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Hundreds of public school teachers in Detroit called in sick yesterday, effectively canceling classes in 64 city schools. The "sickout" is not officially sanctioned by the teachers' federation, but the organizers, a group called DPS Teachers Fight Back, say it is also not a strike.
Detroit's public schools have been under emergency management since 2008, but have continue to wrack up debt. The current emergency manager in Detroit is Darnell Earley, who promised to make major budget cuts when he was appointed last January. He was also the emergency manager for the city of Flint, Michigan, and oversaw a disastrous overhaul of that city's water system. Just last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared the lead contamination in the water in Flint a state of emergency after unsafe levels had been recorded more than a year ago.
Earley called the "sickout" in Detroit yesterday an action by a minority of public school teachers, saying it "served no purpose other than to harm and disrupt the efforts intended for those who cannot afford to lose instruction time, social building time, and time in the classrooms."
Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a former teacher and current state representative, says the teachers are not fighting for their own pay, but for improvements in basic, physical conditions so they can teach effectively.