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House bills would kill Detroit public schools and retaliate against us

Michigan House Republicans made it clear with their early morning vote that they plan to destroy Detroit’s public education system, take away the rights of educators and school staff, and bust the union. Under cover of darkness at 4 a.m. today, lawmakers passed some of the worst bills we have ever seen, all targeting the Detroit public school system—which overwhelmingly serves black and brown children.

They are gunning for educators and school staff because we dared to stand up and speak up about the deplorable conditions that are harming our students and the wage theft against us. Even though they are dead wrong, Michigan’s House Republicans—in their own twisted way—have used the sickouts as their excuse.

Now is the time to expose to the world just how discriminatory and harmful these House bills are. Now is the time to demand Gov. Rick Snyder veto these bills if they come to his desk.

Now is the time to contact our legislators to hold them accountable and urge them to examine themselves and do the right thing for Detroit’s kids and schools.

As we told you in yesterday’s email, the House bills:

  • Provide $72 million per year with a total cap of $500 million, which is not enough to cover the Detroit Public Schools’ debt and fund critical educational services;
  • Take away job security by requiring all staff to reapply for their positions;
  • Tie test scores to teacher pay;
  • Allow the hiring of noncertified teachers and the privatization of instructional services;
  • Eliminate the collective bargaining agreement;
  • Punish employees and their unions for any kind of strike action; and
  • Initially impose an appointed school board for at least one year.

This action by House Republicans is a clear retaliation against educators and school staff for standing up. They are hoping to incite and bait us. And that is why now is NOT the time for more sickouts. Engaging in more sickouts would play into the hands of politicians set on killing our schools and our union. Our Lansing fight back must be strategic.

Our fight back

This is the most serious threat we have ever faced. In March, the Michigan Senate approved a bill package that would provide the $715 million we need to address the DPS funding crisis and provide the resources we need to save public education in Detroit. The Senate bills also would return our school district to a locally elected school board with real decision-making authority. The Senate bills are not great, but they are significantly better than the bills proposed in the House. What’s more, they preserve our jobs and our collective bargaining agreement.

Lawmakers in the Michigan Senate need to hear from you

The most strategic way to fight back is to influence lawmakers in the Senate to do the right thing. Rest assured that we have a team of lobbyists, educators, parents, community allies and influencers who have been in Lansing fighting for Detroit’s schools. We believe the most effective way to move the Senate is through discussions, in their offices, with Detroit teachers and school staff; they need to hear from educators and school staff—the soldiers on the frontlines every day—who are fighting to give students the education they deserve.

Remember, we are not alone in our fight for Detroit’s kids and schools. Not only are we on the side of what is morally right, we have a coalition of parents, community allies, and business and faith leaders standing with us. This is our moment to convince the Senate and the governor that the House bills are wrong. The Senate must vote down these bills, and Gov. Snyder must veto these bills if they come to his desk.

Take action in your schools today

We are asking every school to select one person to serve as an education advocate. We are putting together an army of educators to have one-on-one conversations—along with parents and community allies—with key legislators across the state to oppose the House bills. We are in discussions with the school district to ensure that schools and classes are not disrupted. Schools must remain open, and that’s an important part of our strategy to save public education in Detroit.

Once your school has selected a person to serve as an education advocate, contact the DFT today via email at Q& We will hold a special training for these people tonight.

Every member has a role in this fight. There’s plenty to do. There will be a number of actions this weekend to keep us engaged in the fight. The DFT encourages members to join in phone banking, Labor to Neighbor community canvassing, and Labor and Education in the Pulpit actions, to continue to build support from parents and community members. Stay tuned for more information on how you can be part of the fight.

Now, more than ever, we have to stay encouraged, stay engaged and keep up the fight.

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