Defend Public Education

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Detroit teachers are fighting to defend their labor rights, the rights of their students to the high quality public education they ALL deserve, and the future of public education

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If you read a newspaper in Detroit these days, you’ll see that a lot of people have much to say about the Detroit Public Schools. The new agreement between DPS and DFT is being hailed as revolutionary reform by some, like Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb, and  American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. In truth it is the worst teachers’ contract ever negotiated in this country, and a plan to bust the union, stripping teachers of seniority rights in order to make room for cheaper labor, opening the system for charter schools to profit from public funding, and undermining the right of every child to a high quality public education.

You’ll also see in the papers and on the news that while teachers are being blamed for the much of the problems in DPS, our voice is under-represented in the public debate.   This blog was created to let the teachers’ voices be heard.

As AFT President Randi Weingarten said “The agreement’s ‘reforms’ and provisions…are mere words on paper without continued collaboration between teachers, their union, and the school district”.  This is one teacher, of 1300 who signed a petition to recall President Johnson, who will fight to prove her right and never let it be more than words on paper.

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10 Responses

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  1. ronaldsf said, on January 24, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    I’m a BAMN organizer, just graduated from Berkeley Law School and now work with Scheff Washington and Driver. I want to congratulate the Detroit teachers for taking a stand for their jobs and their schools and the future of Detroit. We can’t stand divided any longer, and we need to fight these attacks. This is a new day!

  2. Eastsider said, on January 24, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    Hello DFT teacher,

    This is a really good idea, and I hope this blog can become a common meeting place for Detroit teachers and anyone concerned for Detroit’s children.

    I’ve got two questions (can the experienced folks from Chicago help from their experience?) and a request:

    Q1: How specific and personal do people think participants ought to be in posting? We all encounter situations or incidents at our schools that reflect DPS mismanagement or administrative misguidedness; do we want to rehearse complaints that “downtown” can’t seem to supply textbooks to our students? Those kinds of complaints are kind of boring, but these “little” problems are the proof that DPS is as dysfunctional as ever.

    Q2: Conversely, do we want to talk about really general problems, like what would an ideal public education system, unfettered by the attitude and need to run schools as cheaply as possible? Imagining how students could be best-served seems sometimes such a far-off wish, that maybe we should just stick to the problems at hand?

    Request: is it possible to find out what’s being talked about at the Saturday meetings, for those of us with competing commitments? And specifically, what’s the news about how DFT “leaders” are dealing with the recall-petition challenge?

    Thanks for anybody’s responses. Communication is always good.

    Sincerely, an eastsider.

    • detroitteacher2 said, on January 24, 2010 at 11:45 PM

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments and questions.
      On Q1: You make a good point about constant complaints seeming boring, but I do think this is a space where teachers, parents, and students should feel free to express just what they are experiencing. As you say, this is the proof of the dysfunction.
      On Q2: I think we are fighting this fight just for that reason. We want all public schools to be adequately supplied and teachers supported enough to be able to create the most ideal learning situations. The immediate step is to stop the take-over by the private interests who want to do just what you’ve said – do it as cheaply as possible so they can enjoy the profits.

      To find out what comes out of the Saturday meetings, keep checking here. The most recent flyer is posted, and this week there should be more up about our response to the DFT “leaders” (by title anyway). As for their handling of the recall, you can see their website. I’m working on posting our response to that. I’ll say quickly that our position is that their statement is bought and paid for (with our dues) from their lawyer and actually has no real authority. Claiming the recall should stop because Johnson and his appointed recall committee declared the charges invalid is like Kwame Kilpatrick (or any other corrupt official) acting as his own judge and dimissing the charges against him.

  3. PISSED OFF PARENT said, on January 22, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    This is a crying shame!!! The educational system in Detroit has crashed just like the auto industry. When are they (Mr. Bob, Granholm) understand what they are doing to our children!!! First of all they need to treat the parents with greater respect. If it was not for us having these children then none of them would have a job. I was educated by DPS and all three of my children attend DPS. I volunteer as well as teach in DPS. There are several concerns that I have. If DPS is good enough for you to work in then why in the HELL your kids are not here!! How do you want me to respect you when as a teacher do not trust the teaching of your CO-WORKERS!!!! Back to Mr. BOB and Granholm, I feel that you are my children’s pimp and we are your (******). You donot ask us what we want. You select parents that you want to hear from and the rest of us do not know a thing that is going on. AS a teacher, I have not yet seen anyone come to our building and ask what we need or see the conditions that we work in from a falling school to lazy custodians, engineers and neglectful parents. When are you going to realize that before we can begin teaching we have to break down walls and break throught barriers. We have teenage moms and dads that cannot read so how can they begin to help our students at home? We have so much poverty and further more substance abuse is on the rise!!!

    • detroitteacher2 said, on January 24, 2010 at 11:51 PM

      Thank you for pointing out that the parents we hear from in the news are handpicked, and describing your working conditions as well as the outside factors all of us teachers face.
      For clarification, who is the you you’re addressing when you say “your kids are not here” and “you as a teacher do not trust the teaching of your co-workers”?

  4. Cheri said, on January 21, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    The teachers have now become lower than autoworkers. It doesn’t matter that most of us have graduate degrees paid with our own money and invest more of our own income to teach our children. After 31 years of teaching, I am getting tired of being the dog kicked out the door. Union members need to unite and fight this.

    • detroitteacher2 said, on January 21, 2010 at 10:11 AM

      Cheri,
      I sympathize with your frustration. I would say ALL union members need to unite, and we need to support each other across unions. Of course teaching is very different from autowork, but the principal of workers not taking the blame and financial hit for mismanagement is the same.
      If you mean were lower than autoworkers in pay, this has always been true for me. It’s nothing new. Family members who are autoworkers were making about $90000 several years ago. And, to drive your point home, they didn’t get paid more because their work is more important, but because they built a STRONGER UNION.

  5. George N. Schmidt said, on January 13, 2010 at 3:14 AM

    It is good to hear from you and read this site. We’ll remain in contact from Chicago. Over the past year, we’ve worked on http://www.substancenews.net to make it a news and “analysis” service. We are not a blog, but encourage teachers and others to post “comments” following the publication of our stuff.

    Because our budget is very small (minuscule, actually) we have never been able to even bring our “old” site to the “new” one, so you can also find back issues of Substance at http://www.substancenews.com.

    Our print edition has been coming out for 35 years, and generally we’ve tried to cover major events in the history of the Chicago Teachers Union. We’ve been on line since 2002, first at http://www.substancenews.com and now at http://www.substancenews.net. Most of our reporters are teachers or retired teachers, most veteran teachers in Chicago’s schools. I had 28 years before they fired me in August 2000, but we decided to keep doing Substance.

    • detroitteacher2 said, on January 13, 2010 at 9:01 AM

      Thanks for contuing your work. Just heard some stories from Chicago a few days ago of what things are like in the wake of Arne Duncan. People need to hear those stories.

  6. zeta said, on January 13, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    I am writing in an effort to inform teachers across the country about what has happened in Chicago due to REN 2010 the school reform, gentrification, displacement program. Starting in 2001, since the announcement off 2010, 3000 African American teachers have been fired. Only 22teaching positions have been lost for whites.

    The Hispanic population of teachers and students have increased by about 33% with all other minorities doubling.

    These figures are similar for the population of students . in Chicago. We are loosing 1.5% of our teacher an student population for African Americans annually.

    The City of Chicago’s school reform initiative has had a devastating effect on the African American community. Parents are being relocated because of housing issues. Students of color are being expelled at an alarming rate and teachers are being fired.

    Many teachers are being put through a very subjective e-3 process, which makes them unsatisfactory teachers after
    20-30 years of service.

    Many have been lied on by principals who have falsified reports and sent to the CPS Law Department so they will be fired.

    Last but not least, some of the most violent children in the system are being interviewed and their testimony used in dismissal hearings for teachers after these same students
    have physically and or verbally assaulted them.

    This is what you have to look forward to since Chicago is the model for School reform nation-wide.


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