Thursday, January 21, 2016
A majority of Detroit public schools were closed yesterday due to a coordinated “sickout” of teachers. This work stoppage was the latest in a series of showdowns with state government and was timed with an arrival by the President to attend an auto show. Activists used the opportunity to hold rallies to air their grievances publicly.
Educators have staged several work stoppages to protest the dilapidated state of public schools as well as Governor Rick Snyder’s plan for the schools, which involves spliting the school district in two. Yesterday’s protest closed over 85 schools and followed last week’s efforts which shut down more than 60 and prompted visits to school sites by Mayor Mike Duggan and inspectors. Detroit Public Schools is several hundred million dollars in debt and has been under the administration of emergency manager Darnell Earley for a year.
The “sickout” strategy attempts to sidestep Michigan law which prohibits teacher strikes. Schools have been found with mold in walls, crumbling infrastructure, and infestations.
In response to the sickout, the school district has filed a lawsuit and sought an injunction against the union as well as individual activists and teachers.