Teachers Take Stands In Detroit, Chicago

Two big school districts – Chicago and Detroit – in fierce battles over funding, conditions and the role of unions. We’ll dig in.

Protesters line the streets outside Detroit's Cobo Center on Thursday, January 21, 2016. Substandard conditions in Detroit Public Schools have lead district teachers to stage periodic "sick outs," shutting down much of the troubled public school district this winter. (Via @DetroitTeach / Twitter)

Protesters line the streets outside Detroit’s Cobo Center on Thursday, January 21, 2016. Substandard conditions in Detroit Public Schools have lead district teachers to stage periodic “sick outs,” shutting down much of the troubled public school district this winter. (Via @DetroitTeach / Twitter)

We know big urban school districts have struggled for a long time to do their jobs, but lately some look at the edge of meltdown. In Detroit, teachers resorting to “sickouts’ to protest schools just falling to pieces. In Chicago, the state of Illinois threatening to take over in a last ditch maneuver that has not worked in Detroit. There are issues with unions, but also with equity and the way we do or do not educate some of our most disadvantaged kids. Now the Supreme Court is in the mix. This hour On Point, Detroit, Chicago, and urban education in meltdown mode.

— Tom Ashbrook


Maggie Severns, education reporter for POLITICO. (@MaggieSeverns)

Andrew Rotherham, co-founder and partner at Bellwether Education Partners. (@arotherham)

Elizabeth Todd-Breland, professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Author of the forthcoming book, “A Political Education.” (@EToddBreland)

Nicole Conaway, high school math teacher at Detroit’s East Village Preparatory Academy and Detroit Public Schools Teacher Sickout organizer. (@nicoleconaway)

From Tom’s Reading List

POLITICO: Governor lunges for control of Chicago schools, teachers union — “The broke Chicago school system is the latest laboratory for an ambitious Midwestern governor trying push his anti-union agenda. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is angling for a takeover of the financially flailing school district, a move that would allow him to battle the powerful Chicago Teachers Union.”

Detroit News: Cass Tech students walk out to support teachers — “Detroit Public School teachers, students and other supporters rallied Monday in support of instructors who have staged repeated sickouts to protest poor building conditions and other problems in the state’s largest school district. The demonstrations, which included a noontime walkout by students at Cass Technical High School, came as a judge conducted a hearing on the district’s request to bar further sickouts.”

New York Times: Crumbling, Destitute Schools Threaten Detroit’s Recovery — “Detroit’s public schools are a daily shock to the senses, run down after years of neglect and mismanagement, while failing academically and teetering on the edge of financial collapse. Last Wednesday, teachers again protested the conditions, calling in sick en masse and forcing a shutdown of most of the city’s almost 100 schools.”

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