Michigan Failing Again

How Michigan House conservatives are holding Detroit schools, teachers and students hostage.

How Michigan House Conservatives Are Holding Detroit Schools, Teachers And Students Hostage

Conservatives in the Michigan House are using the financial crisis in Detroit Public Schools to punish the city’s 45,000 students, strip worker protections and benefits, discipline teachers for going on strike or participating in walkouts over the deplorable state of school facilities, and allow noncertified teachers to be brought into Detroit classrooms. In the dead of night, 4:30 am last Thursday morning, the House passed a legislative package that does all of the above in exchange for emergency funding that still would fall short of the amount Mayor Mike Duggan says is needed.

In recent months the terrible condition of schools in Detroit drew national attention and teachers led the charge to highlight the issue staging “sickouts” in January. So the news that the school district was in such financial dire straits that teachers would not be paid after June led to more protests and frustration. In response, the Michigan Senate proposed and passed legislation that meets much of what leaders in Detroit say is needed to keep the city schools operating and afloat and includes a commission that would oversee spending and operations.

But then came the House version—the group of discriminatory bills passed last week—which would do little to help Detroit Schools’ budget but lots to harm the already struggling city schools. Now, the Senate could take up the House version of the aid package as early as tomorrow. If the legislation passes through the Senate it will land on Gov. Snyder’s desk forcing him to decide, again, between financial austerity or supporting some of his state’s most economically disadvantaged citizens.

This is why teachers from across the city are going door to door and raising money at lemonade stands to oppose the House legislation and encourage Gov. Snyder to veto any version of the House legislation.

BOTTOM LINE: With the fallout from the lead crisis in Flint far from over, it is time for Michigan lawmakers to step up and provide the same infrastructure, supports, and school upgrades for its lowest-income populations as those in more well off communities.

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