Michigan Republicans push laws to punish Detroit teachers who revealed shocking conditions in their schools

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Four state Senators, Phil Pavlov, Joe Hune, David Robertson, and Goeff Hansen have had quite enough of uppity Detroit teachers who have staged “sick-outs” to draw attention to the deplorable – unconscionable, really – conditions in their schools. Images and stories of dead vermin, mushrooms growing out of the wall, disintegrating floors, walls, and ceilings, and clear evidence of black mold in the schools attended by Detroit children have shocked the state and drawn national attention to the disinvestment in DPS under a series of Emergency Managers over the past seven years.

Here’s are some of the photos:

Much more HERE.

And here’s a video. I encourage you to watch it. These poor, sweet children are dealing with things that NO child should ever be forced to deal with.

Despite this clear evidence that we have a HUGE problem in Detroit schools, the problem, it appears, at least according to these anti-teacher, anti-public education Republicans isn’t the deplorable conditions in the schools where teachers are heroically trying to teach and children are valiantly trying to learn. The problem is the teachers. And these Republicans have set out to do something about it.

After all, this is the education of kids we’re talking about so quick action MUST be taken!

The four of them have introduced Senate bills 713, 714, and 715. The latter is tie-barred to a fourth bill that they haven’t gotten around to introducing yet. All three bills were passed out of the Senate Education Committee yesterday.

SB 713 does a number of things (from the Senate Fiscal Agency’s analysis):

First, it compels the Superintendent of Public Instruction to notify the Michigan Employment Relations Commission of “the full or partial days a public school employee was engaged in the strike.” Presumably the sick-outs are being defined as strikes and teacher strikes are outlawed in Michigan. Therefore, I will use the term “strike” with quotation marks around it since, at least in the case of DPS teachers, their union was not involved.

Second, it requires the Commission to conduct a hearing to determine if there had been a violation of the Act within two days, instead of 60 days, of receiving notice of a “strike”.

Third, it allows the Superintendent to bring an action against any “striking” public school employee.

Fourth, it requires a court having jurisdiction impose fines and order other relief the court against a “striking” teacher.

Fifth, it requires a public employer (i.e. the school system) to commence a proceeding to determine whether a public employee violated the Act within five days of receiving a request for a hearing, and to issue a decision within two days of the conclusion of the proceeding.

Finally, it allows a public employer to consolidate all the hearings for multiple “striking” teachers into one hearing.

SB 714 requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to tell teachers that their “striking” teaching certificate could be suspended or revoked and requires the Superintendent to revoke a person’s teaching certificate for at least two years if the person failed to avail himself or herself of the right to a hearing within 15 days.

Finally, SB 715 says:

If a district or intermediate district fails to comply with an order of the Employment Relations Commission to deduct a fine from an employee’s annual salary under Section 2A(7) of 1947 PA 336, MCL 423.202A, the district or intermediate district forfeits an amount equal to 5% of the total state school aid due to the district or intermediate district under this article.

In other words, the school district is not given an option not to punish the “striking” teachers. They MUST punish them or the school district loses state education dollars.

David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan spelled it out: “This expands the impact and severity of strike laws. [These bills are] unconstitutional and [a] violation of freedom of speech and career ending for teachers.”

Let’s not pretend that Michigan Republicans care about the black students in Detroit or about the teachers who have been under attack by them since they rolled into power in 2011. These teachers are, as I said, heroic. They should be getting combat pay given the conditions in which they are trying to educate the kids of Detroit. Instead, they’ve had their pay and benefits slashed time and time again by Michigan Republican’s policies and laws. They have been repeatedly maligned as parasites, leeches on the jugular vein of society who are personally responsible for the lack of funding for education in Michigan simply because they want a fair wage, suitable benefits, and to be able to retire in dignity rather than in poverty.

We owe these teachers so much for what they do day in and day out and Senators Pavlov, Hune, Robertson, and Hansen are disgustingly trying to kick them in the teeth for their successful efforts to pull back the curtain on what education disinvestment looks like in the school buildings of Detroit.

The bills now go to the full Senate. Please contact your state Senator and tell them to vote no on these disgusting anti-hero, anti-teacher, anti-student, anti-public education bills. You can find their contact information HERE.

  • judyms9

    This is another example of Michigan Republicans attempting to control rather than to fix. To them the teachers are the problem, not the condition of the schools. Mr. Earley has skipped town, so there will be no one to specify, order, and oversee the repairs Mayor Duggan ordered completed within 30 days.

  • Nancy Wickman

    Before I retired from the Department of Human Services, I worked in a pretty shabby office in Flint. We had mold and ceiling tiles coming down and toadstools growing inside along the walls. But it still wasn’t as bad as the Detroit schools. One day the state director, Ismael Ahmed, visited the office and was so appalled by the conditions he immediately started making arrangements to relocate the workers to a temporary office until a new one could be built. But this was under Granholm’s administration. It’s such a stark contrast to the fact that no one in Snyder’s administration seems to care enough to be appalled by the conditions in Detroit.

    • If Bernie wins the nomination, I like the sound of “Vice President Granholm”. Her governing experience and strengths offset his weaknesses nicely.

      IMHO

      • She can’t be Vice President. She was born in Canada to Canuckistanian parents.

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