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Detroit Teacher Protest Closes 18 Schools


(MPRN-Lansing) - Eighteen schools in Detroit were closed Thursday as teachers and other staff skipped classes to protest at the state Capitol. Their target was Governor Rick Snyder’s latest turnaround plan for the Detroit Public Schools.

Speech pathologist Sheila Fields says she’s fed up with how students and staff are being treated.

“All these emergency financial managers that come in. They get bonuses, and still the deficits keep growing,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense, and the conditions of the schools are depressing and disgusting.”
“I worked in a charter school for several years, and I saw the problems, the many problems in a charter school,” says Katie Cunningham, a fourth grade teacher, “and I just don’t want those conditions to happen to our students in DPS.”

Governor Snyder’s plan is also getting a cool reception from Republican leaders in the Legislature, who don’t like parts of the plan that would use state funds. But House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) directed his ire at the teachers who walked off their jobs to protest.

“We have adults here protesting the governor’s presentation of a plan?” he said. “If they’re protesting his plan, they ought to get ready to protest mine.”

Cotter says he’s opposed to using the state School Aid Fund to reimburse the Detroit schools for money used to pay its legacy debt. That’s part of the governor’s proposal that would have to be approved by the Legislature. The district’s emergency manager, Darnell Earley, issued a statement that included:

“This unplanned turn of events is seriously misguided and directly harms our students – taking away a day in the classroom that students can ill-afford given the school days already missed due to our severe weather this past winter. It is truly unfortunate that so many of those who profess to be dedicated educators have decided to participate in this action given its unjustifiable and unconscionable consequence."