So 85 Detroit Public Schools were closed again today due to teacher sickouts. Today 85 schools full of teachers got together and decided enough was enough. 85 of the 97 total DPS schools went without for the 4th, 5th? Day this year. I hadn’t planned on writing about sickouts again today, I really prefer to focus on the preventative measures my team is working on this school year to HELP prevent teacher burnout. But, I am so disappointed, so extremely disappointed, with last night’s State of the State address. As I sat down to write this morning, I couldn’t move past it.
I have not heard Governor Snyder speak previous to last night (on purpose, I really don’t like to get involved in politics). I like to think I am a pretty transparent person, and appreciate this characteristic in others…especially people who are placed in charge of the wellbeing of my peers; doctors, teachers and yes, politicians. I flipped on my television last night in hopes that I would hear a plan, or the skeleton of a plan, that was destined to set education in this state on a path focused on increasing student engagement, raising graduation rates and repairing the deterioration of EDUCATION inside the city of Detroit. What I heard instead was blame shifting, recommendations to develop yet another commission and that Detroit Public Schools are in crisis; insert eye roll here, uh, a committee already exists, and obviously. Truly, when are we going to move forward?
Over the last year, I’ve tried to involve myself more in education policy, mostly because the policies that drive our education system in this state are a mystery to me. I find myself wondering, quite a bit actually….well whyyyyy do we do things this way? And usually, I find my answer wrapped in legal wording that I need my attorney (who happens to ALSO be my mom) to summarize and turn into English for me. I am so thankful for groups like StudentsFirst and Education Trust-Midwest, and rely on them for updates and insight into statics and policies that impact every student in this state. But there is something I have not been able to find the answer to…WHEN are we going to move forward?
The governor already has a commission to provide recommendations on how to help move DPS forward, he actually made mention of them during his speech, The Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children. This coalition is made up of 36 leaders representing education, business and community sectors (well rounded!) It has the backing of Skillman Foundation, State Senators and the AFT. I strongly believe the leadership is here, these people can help move our schools forward. Their work focuses on supporting Detroit’s charters, public and EAA schools. All inclusive, all Michigan education. As it should be.
I am married to a historian, and he reminds me, sometimes daily, of the importance of knowing how we got to this place so that we can insure that we do not return to it in the future. But Michigan children cannot wait any longer, Michigan teachers cannot wait any longer. These sickouts are representation of the frustration, neglect and hopelessness that these educators feel. These sickouts are happening because prior discussions and cries for help went unanswered. If not now, then when? Four Emergency managers, and seven years of this. How much longer can this possibly hold out? These sickouts are telling me our teachers can’t take much more.