Detroit’s Teachers Going Back To The Classroom Wednesday After Receiving Pay Promises

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Between money issues, sick-outs, and Lansing’s fast-track action for a partial solution to the DPS crisis, it has been a whirlwind few days as far as the the Detroit Public Schools goes.

Detroit Public Schools transitional manager Steven Rhodes gave teachers and school employees the assurance they needed earlier today that they will be paid for their work.

At a membership meeting late this afternoon, the Detroit Federation of Teachers encouraged the school employees to go back to school on Wednesday.

“We’ve been working 24/7 to secure the assurance that educators will be fully paid for the school year, so they can go back to the classroom and do what they love to do—teach their students. It is a fundamental right to be paid for the work one does. Anything other than that is dead wrong and tantamount to wage theft,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

As we’ve talked about before, word was that the Detroit Public Schools would not guarantee educators at least some salaries from as early as April 28 through June of this year.

According to a statement, Weingarten thanked Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Judge Rhodes and others, including Gov. Rick Snyder, for their help in securing the assurance of payment.

The future is far from clear for DPS, however. A bill exited committee in the Michigan state house that would split the Detroit Public Schools in two – an old district that carried the debt and new district – and would cover $33 million in immediate costs and assume $515 million in debt, but does not include $200 million in planned transition costs to the new district.

“We’re just not buying it. We’re looking at the debt and $30 million in transition costs,” state representative Al Pscholka (R) told the Detroit Free Press. “And the Detroit Public Schools will be getting $50 million when you take that the $1,100 per student (the portion of the per pupil allowance that is used to pay off district’s debt) off of them.”

“Detroit’s public school teachers deserved to know they are going to be paid fully for their work. Now they have that assurance. I appreciate the hard work and dedication displayed by Detroit Federation of Teachers leadership, Judge Rhodes, and the Governor to resolve this issue so our children can return to class tomorrow morning,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

There are five provisions of the bill that are causing controversy locally.

  1. All Detroit Public School teachers and staff would have to re-apply for their jobs. Limits would also be imposed on collective bargaining on the school’s calendar and employee work schedule.
  2. The Detroit Public Schools could use non-certified teachers under the plan. Instead of getting certificates they could waive their student teaching or certification requirements permanently.
  3. Charters would have almost free reign as the Detroit Education Commission agreed to by Governor Rick Snyder and Mayor Mike Duggan that was to help regulate and approve the locations and authorizations of new charter and public schools is not in this bill.
  4. An election for school board wouldn’t occur until August 2017. In the meantime, a seven-member school board would be appointed jointly by the Detroit Mayor, appointing two members and the Governor, who will get five appointments. The elected school board taking office on Jan. 1, 2018.
  5. The district will fall under the oversight of the Financial Review Commission, the same one that has authority over the city of Detroit’s finances with the addition of two members – the districts transition manager and Superintendent. That Superintendent would be selected by the appointed school board.

The House and Senate versions differ considerably, so even if approved by the State House those differences would have to be sorted out.

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