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AFT Leaders on the Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Concerning Detroit Schools

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

DETROIT—Statements from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, AFT Michigan President David Hecker and Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey on today’s unprecedented federal civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan State Board of Education, charging that the state is violating the U.S. Constitution by not providing students with their fundamental right of access to literacy skills and interventions.

AFT President Randi Weingarten: “The state of Michigan has been totally negligent in making sure that Detroit students have the literacy skills they need to function in today’s society. It is unconscionable that the state’s leaders allowed schools to crumble and kids to go from grade to grade without the requisite literacy skills. Detroit’s educators are doing everything in their power to give these students the best education possible, but you can only do so much without the necessary resources and interventions. This landmark federal case should be a wake-up moment to get the state’s attention and force it to remedy this crisis. Public education should be the great equalizer for our country, but sadly, that isn’t a reality. Detroit is a prime example of how government mismanagement and neglect can result in separate and unequal public education systems.”

AFT Michigan President David Hecker: “Today’s filing takes our fight for high-quality public education one step further. The students and families of Detroit deserve access to the same high-quality public education that students across town in Grosse Point get. The taxpayers of Michigan have a responsibility to ensure the next generation receives the education they need. Unfortunately, Lansing’s apathy has broken that promise to the students of Detroit.”

DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey: “For more than a decade, the educators of this city have been raising the red flag about Detroit Public Schools: Our schools are falling apart, our classrooms lack the basic resources needed to educate children, and we have been forced to do more with less to give our students a shot at the American dream. This lawsuit is not about individual teachers or individual schools. It’s about the quality of the Detroit school system and our community. Apparently, the state of Michigan is satisfied with the status quo. But the parents, educators and community are unwilling to accept the current state of our school system. The DFT and our members stand with the people bringing this lawsuit today and for what it represents: giving our students an opportunity to succeed.”

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