February 18, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Detroit, MI – After two months of wildcat sickouts, Detroit teachers tried a new protest tactic Feb. 9: union-backed “walk-in” protests at several city schools.
“I saw a teacher at Cody who, every single morning, would just take paper towels and disinfect it and clean up from the rodents that did their thing the night before,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told the Detroit Free Press after a rally with teachers and students outside Greenfield Union Elementary-Middle School. “Our goal is to get… a school system where its teachers don’t continue to subsidize what’s going on here, a school system where the heroism is not viewed as a condition of employment, but is respected.” Longtime second-grade teacher Vivian Ingram said she had 37 students in her class instead of 25, and the school has computers, but no computer teacher to help students use them. Meanwhile, state-appointed Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, who agreed to resign at the end of the month after the union demanded a return to local control, announced a plan Feb. 8 to spend $300,000 on fixing the mold, rodent infestations, and other building conditions teachers protested. “Unfortunately,” he said in a statement, making the most urgently needed repairs would cost more than $50 million, and unless the state legislature appropriates more money, the cost will have to come out of other items in the schools’ budget. Read more