Defend Public Education

Victory Through Action at Marquette!

Posted in union action by Nicole Conaway on March 16, 2015

18282_10206003845032870_8531899979730750903_nToday’s DFT-led rally at Marquette was another success. About 50 teachers, students, BAMN and other supporters, including Members of the Michigan Operating Engineers Union carried handmade signs and chanted boldly as we picketed near the school sign. Our voices were so loud, neighborhood students said they heard us from their house and came out and joined the picket!

Radio, internet, and TV news media all covered today’s event. Detroit CBS Local reports that DPS is “reviewing the situation” with Principal Lockhart.

We must build on this initial victory and not rest until Mr. Lockhart and all abusive Principals are out of our schools and Gov. Snyder’s Emergency Manager is out of Detroit!

Join us at the next picket to stand up against Principal Abuse and for the quality schools our students deserve Tuesday March 24, 3:15 at J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy


DFT Members: Vote Defend Public Education/Save Our Students Slate in Delegate Elections March 8,9,10

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on February 26, 2010

Detroit Teachers!

Vote in your Schools March 8, 9 & 10 for DFT Delegate to the AFT National and Michigan Conventions! 

           1. For video statements from our candidates, go to .  Watch, post comments, and forward the link to other teachers.
           2. See the attached pdf of our campiagn flyer.  Print it, copy it, and pass it out at school.
Vote for the Defend Public Education / Save Our Students Slate  in the Convention Delegate Elections !
Mark the dates—March 8, 9, 10 and 11—in your calendar, because what you do on those days will determine the character of public education for years to come.
On March 8, 9 and 10, DFT members will vote for slates of candidates to represent us at our union’s state and national conventions. On March 11 we will have our next union meeting. If we vote in defense of public education, in defense of our union and our students, this will be the first meeting in which we will break the spell of tyranny and repression that is making us weak and embattled when objectively, we are so strong.
Unlike any other convention delegate election, this election is a referendum on who we are, on who we aspire to be, on what is most important to us, and on our commitment to stand on the truth, on our most important principles and beliefs. This election is an opportunity to defeat the whole right-wing, pro-charter, anti-public school ideology being pushed by virtually every politician and the whole media.
for the complete text of this statement, see the attached pdf file

Detroit Teachers demand recall hearing on President

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on February 12, 2010

As reported on Michigan Radio: (Click link for audio)

DFT Meeting Breaks Down Amid Accusations of Vote-Rigging

Excert from story on  Michigan Public Radio site:

DETROIT, MI (Michigan Radio) – A teachers’ union meeting in Detroit abruptly ended tonight after erupting into chaos.

About 1,300 teachers signed petitions to recall Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson from office.

Lisa Sinnett is a teacher at Western International High School. She says a majority of the members at the meeting tried but failed to put the recall question on the meeting agenda.

“They lied,” Sinnett said about the vote tally. “And so if I had any doubts in my mind to listen to what Keith Johnson had to say – which was what I wanted, to hear what he had to say when I came in, to address what people said – I don’t have any more doubts that that was a corrupt and false vote.”

For the full story, click DFT Meeting Breaks Down Amid Accusations of Vote-Rigging

To see it for yourself click links below:


Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on February 3, 2010

Students, educators and concerned citizens rallied tonight in Lansing to protest the budget cuts and move to privatize education and demand fair, equal, quality public education for all.

A Parent group met at Chapelle School in Ypsilanti to protest the planned closing of their school and mass teacher layoffs. Here’s an excerpt from their flyer:

We reject the lie that “there is no money” for public education, when Wall Street bankers and the Pentagon get trillions. We are calling for united and independent action of the entire working class—parents, teachers, bus drivers, staff, students, and residents in school districts throughout the region. We did not create the crisis and we should not be made to pay for it.  If we accept these cuts, more will come next year. What is left in 2010 wil be in the crosshairs in 2011. Where will it end? We must defend the fundamental right to public education, or it too will be taken away from us.
We say: No more! No cuts! No closures! Ypsilanti workers united for the way forward!

THURSDAY FEB 4TH: Detroit Teachers rally with city and county workers Downtown Detroit 4:30 PM from Coleman A Young Municipal Center to the The Guardian Building (Wanye Co. offices)

THURSDAY FEB 11th: DFT Membership meeting, members to hold recall vote of President Johnson

MARCH 4th: National Day of Action to DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION State-wide march in Lansing

Detroit Teachers Demand removal of DFT President

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on January 16, 2010

Detroit teachers demand the removal of DFT president Keith Johnson at the January 14 general membership meeting

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Keith Johnson illegaly adjourns meeting

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on January 16, 2010

Keith Johnson illegaly adjourns meeting

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DFT Members to hold recall vote of President

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on January 15, 2010

Members of the Detroit Federation of  Teachers at the general membership meeting tonight participated in a historical moment for our union. Tonight we took back our union, held our meeting free from the dictatorial rule of Keith Johnson and passed the following three motions by an overwhelming majority.

Motion 1: that the DFT support the teachers in their lawsuit to stop the $250 per pay deduction which began this week.

Motion 2: that the vote for the recall of President Keith Johnson be taken at the next general membership meeting.

Motion 3: that Keith Johnson step down as President of the DFT pending the recall vote.

Here are the details. The meeting began as usual, actually a little quieter than usual despite the size of the crowd. Keith called the meeting to order and the motion was made by Brother Steve Conn to amend the agenda to add the special item including the 3 motions. A loud second rose up from the body. To which of course, Keith’s response was to rule the motion out of order, and swiftly try to get the agenda approved. He got it approved, got it seconded, and called the vote. Then he made a big mistake. Above the roar of members chanting ‘NO!NO!NO!”, “King Keith” proclaimed, “The ayes have it.” Now, people can only take so many lies. When you put it right in their faces like that, they tend to upset. Thanks Keith. You couldn’t have made it any easier.

From that point the meeting was ours.   Keith left the room to make an important phone call, likely to the police department or to tell someone to call the police, we continued our meeting.The chanting continued. He tried to regain control, but never did. Keith said sit down, more people stood up. As members felt the strength of taking back thier own power, the chanting became celebratory.  Keith threatened to have disruptors removed, asked the police to take us out, starting with the people standing on chairs. More of us got up on chairs. The police appeared to explain to Keith that they couldn’t do anything for him, again. I don’t know who the officer talking to him was, but I thank him for seeing the truth and setting Keith straight. Eventually Keith adjourned the meeting. They even turned the lights off on us. We didn’t move. We adopted the special item as the agenda, and passed all three motions by an overwhelming majority. 

What was supposed to happen, according to Keith’s agenda, was that his lawyer would explain to us that the charges on the recall petition were invalid.   Last night in an emergency executive meeting, Keith declared this so and ordered the petitions with the signatures of over 1300 members to be THROWN AWAY. Who does he think he is? He seems to thing he gets to be judge and jury of his own trial.  WE Determine the validity of those charges, not him, and not his lawyer. DFT Members will not stand for this usurpation of our democratic rights by a president who has threatened, bullied and lied to us!

A few words on the hearing in Lansing on the powers of the Emergency financial manager:

You know their not really interested in real educational reform when the want to give someone like Rob Bobb control over academics in addition to money. It doesn’t suprise me though.  Of course private interests like The Skillman Foundation who need that cash flow from DPS want it, so they have a more “stable” district to work with. Every DPS Board member presented evidence on Bobb’s failures. Some described the success of DPS just before the state take-over of the late 90’s and the devastating results of that take over. House Education Committee members raised the issue of Bobb’s lack of accountability. Right now he only answers to the Governor. The DFT website was conspicuously neutral, simply stating that the hearing was happening at the House of Reprasentatives in Lansing on the question of whether Bobb should have academic power and that a bus ws available for members who wanted to go to the hearing. Hmm…

Michigan House Education Committee hearing on giving Academic Power to Rob Bobb

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on January 14, 2010

10:30 AM TODAY Thursday Jan 14, House Education committee will hear testimony on “School financial managers and powers related to academic emergencies”

Click here for committee member contact information and email or call to tell them NO! Do Not give Rob Bobb academic control of DPS. Now you know it’s not about educating children when they want to appoint someone who has no expertise as an educator to oversee academic affairs. It’s just one more piece of the take over plan.

View or listen to the webcast o f the meeting on House TV

Johnson gets props from Weingarten as recall effort grows

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on January 13, 2010

While DFT President Keith Johnson faces a growing recall effort by DFT membership, the AFT is using him as the poster boy for their national campaign to undermine teachers and students rights.

From the DFT website:

DFT President Keith Johnson and the 2009 bargaining team are being honored at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Jan. 12 for the innovative contract that ushered in union-driven reforms and held the line on wages in a deficit-ridden school district. The 2009-2012 contract has been called the most progressive in Michigan history. For the first time, Detroit teachers will drive staff development, counsel and mentor their peers, and determine school bonuses. AFT President Randi Weingarten will honor Johnson and the team for the innovative negotiations that accomplished the package. Johnson will be in Washington to accept the award for his bargaining team: Mark O’Keefe, Patrick Falcusan, Felecia Clark, Mershira Oliver and Paula Trilety.  (For more analysis of Weingarten’s speech see Union to propose test scores figure into teacher ratings)



Meanwhile Back in Detroit,

The wage claim forms are stacking up on Attorney George Washington’s desk as teachers see the first deduction from their paychecks, and the organizing meetings for the recall of Johnson have grown to over 100 teachers representing dozens of schools across the city, and petition signatures number 1300+.

Innovative? Progressive? 

Rather than take wage cuts, thanks to the stellar negotiating skills of Johnson and his bargaining team, we got  $10,00 in payroll deductions from.  Only those who will profit from the taking over of public schools call this the most progressive contract in Michigan History for private profit. The school bonuses teachers will determine will be given “if the district secures funds”. 

The only people who call this outrageous deal progressive are those who stand to profit from the take over of pulic schools. As Weingarten honors Johson, she rejects a letter from the DFT election committee who voted UNANIMOUSLY to suspend this ratification vote due to many “iregularities”.

Teachers file lawsuit to protect wages

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on January 11, 2010

Lawyer George Washington  filed suit today on behalf of the first fourteen of the 7000 teachers, counselors, and other school employees whose rights were violated by the  contract negotiated between Robert Bobb and Keith Johnson.

Teachers will see the first of 40 $250 deductions on their paycheck  tomorrow.  This deduction amounts to an illegal loan to the district, violating the Michigan Payment of Wages Act of 1978.  The total deduction of $10,000 is part of the Termination Incentive Plan included in the recent agreement.

Also included is a provision to pay teachers back $1000 per year up to ten years only after they resign or retire. Teachers who are laid off will not get it back, and if the district files bankruptcy as it threatens, none of us will.  This is what AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten referred to as a “bonus” in her full-page ad in the NY Times, “Detroit Teaches America a Valuable Lesson” . This is no bonus, this is theft. But Weingarten is right, Detroit is teaching America a valuable lesson. We are teaching her, and Robert Bobb, and anyone who thinks we will quietly sit by and let them push their agenda through that DFT is not a bank and our students are not for sale.  We will not simply let Robert Bobb steal from our paychecks to hire more consultants and management firms and turn DPS into a two-tiered charterized system.