On Monday in Detroit, Mich., a so-called “sickout” left nearly two-thirds of the city’s public school system closed as teachers instead rallied together to address health and safety concerns. The city’s mayor and other authorities heard the demands of the teachers, which also prompted a public response from Mayor Mike Duggan.
The sickout caught the attention of State school superintendent Brian Whitson, who issued a statement that Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley can open the channels to hold meetings to discuss the classroom building concerns which happened in the wake of two public rallies attended by the teachers.
Among the problems the teachers raised, poorly constructed roofs, vermin infestation, poor heating and water systems among other issues.
The Detroit News writes:
“I care deeply about the safety and well-being of teachers in Detroit, just as I do the students,” Whiston. “They all still need to be in the classrooms teaching and learning, though. If buildings have health and safety issues, they need to be addressed immediately with the district administration and all appropriate agencies.”
In response, DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said the district “places a top priority on creating a good working and learning environment for our students and staff.”
In all, 64 schools were closed by way of the sickout which left thousands of students without instruction for the day. Parents were told of the planned strike Sunday evening, which was reportedly planned by local label organizer Steve Conn. CNN reports that the Detroit Federation of Teachers union would not be calling for a strike vote.
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“We haven’t sanctioned the sick-outs, but I want everyone to understand the frustration,” Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, told CNN affiliate WXYZ.
Still, Ann Mitchell, the administrator for the DTF, said teachers work in a school system that needs a lot of help.
“We shouldn’t have classrooms busting out at the seams. We have 45 and 50 students in classes,” she said. “We have classes where there is no coverage for the students, there are no teachers there because we have a teacher shortage. These issues have to now be addressed.”
Detroit public school teachers say dwindling city and state budgets have hurt city schools, WXYZ reported.
Detroit has been plagued with budgetary concerns citywide for years, which has trickled down to schools. Historically, the school system has long battled with funding, organizational structure and a host of other detrimental issues.