The outrageous working/learning environment in some of Detroit school buildings has gotten national and even international attention over the past few months. Over the past month, teachers have staged multiple “sick-outs” to protest the deplorable conditions they are forced to try to teach in, resulting in multiple school closings. Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Emergency Manager Darnell Earley has tried twice to get courts to intervene but was rebuffed both times. Yesterday, DPS students themselves staged a protest. The only outcome of that expression of civil disobedience was that some of them were suspended:
Students spilled onto the street as Communication and Media Arts high schoolers walked out, standing up for their teachers – and their education despite a five-day suspension handed down by principal Donya Odom.
“I got suspended for five days for an American right,” said Tarik Jackson. “That’s ridiculous.” […]
[Student Jalon Nelson said] … “we deserve books, we deserve money, we deserve better education and we’re not getting it and if you’re going to stop us from standing up for our rights – we’re going to go. Because Dr. King would have done the same thing.”
And still the shocking conditions persist:
— Detroitteach (@teachDetroit) January 12, 2016
I went to Cody in Detroit. Dedicated and caring staff teaching kids in appalling conditions. pic.twitter.com/2Vh0cYZ9GV
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) January 14, 2016
— Detroit Metro Times (@metrotimes) January 14, 2016
Much more HERE.
These shocking images were confirmed by a recent inspection of several DPS schools, leading Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to threaten action if the conditions aren’t corrected. “We are giving school officials a reasonable timeline to correct the deficiencies, and we hope they will,” Duggan said in a statement. “If they don’t, we are going to take prompt legal action to enforce compliance.
“I don’t want there to be any confusion,” Duggan continued. “A claim of a shortage of funds is not a defense to violations of building or health codes for any building owner. We’re not going to allow our children, DPS employees, or the public to continue to be subjected to substandard conditions.”
When asked about all of this, Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, the man largely responsible for the tragedy happening in Flint with the poisoning of their drinking water, was blasé. For instance, when he learned about a leaking roof that had made the gym at Spain Elementary stunningly warped and unusable, Earley told them to stop using it. Problem solved! Kids don’t need gym, anyway, right? That’s not on the test!
When confronted by the inspection reports showing a laundry list of health and safety issues that need to be addressed, Earley essentially shrugged:
“Code violations are not new to Detroit Public Schools,” said Darnell Earley, brushing off the issue.
If you don’t have kids in the DPS system, I ask you to take a moment to think about the implications of this. Would you want to send your child to a school where the gym is unusable, where mushrooms sprout from the walls, that are too cold (or too hot) for kids to be reasonably comfortable, or where black mold is making both students and teachers sick? What would your response be? Would this have any chance at all of continuing if it were in YOUR school district?
It’s time for Darnell Earley to go. His seemingly careless attitude about the conditions in Detroit schools is disgusting. It’s also time for our state legislators to quit screwing around and do something about this ongoing tragedy once and for all. These children are having their opportunities for success stolen from them by a state that cares more about tax breaks for corporations than it does about the black kids in our urban areas.
It’s our state’s shame and hideous legacy and the time for talking is over. It’s time to invest and renew and rebuild. NOW.