Over the last two weeks, the story of a state-inflicted disaster poisoning the public water supply in Flint, Michigan, has exploded in the national media. Thanks to the false economy imposed by a state-appointed manager who took over the governance of that beleaguered city, Flint’s water supply has been tainted by dangerous levels of lead, especially harmful to children. Restoring a safe water system for Flint residents could take years, and the costs of the needed fix will far exceed any supposed savings the state manager promised.
A similar state-made disaster is unfolding meanwhile just down the road in the Detroit public schools, but the national media have not yet focused as much attention on this story. Our counterparts in Detroit are asking for our help. The conditions they have to contend with are appalling. Here’s the story, and here’s how you can help.
Under Detroit’s emergency manager, school funding has gone from bad to worse, educators and students have been treated shamefully, and the schools have been left to rot. Literally.
Black mold in classrooms. Gym floors buckling. Mushrooms growing inside buildings. And that’s just the beginning.
While the schools are crumbling around them, educators and staff work every day to give Detroit’s kids a fair chance.
But these working people have also been abandoned. After taking a pay cut years ago to help balance the budget, they’ve now gone 10 years without even a cost-of-living pay raise.
Combined with repeated benefit cuts, many dedicated educators can barely afford to continue their work.
Our local union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, is fighting for the schools kids deserve and the respect educators have earned. Until now, their pleas have been ignored.
You can read more in the e-mail below from DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey.
Over recent weeks, through the actions taken by many of our members, the deplorable condition of our schools has made local news. And thanks to your hard work and mobilization in the schools combined with the work of our local union and the partnership with our national union, we’re now making national news.
We’ve started a petition calling on the emergency manager and the state to fix our schools and provide fair funding for our students and educators.Will you sign the petition and demand that Detroit’s students get a fair chance to succeed?
Across the city, our educators and staff work every day to give Detroit’s students a fair shot. But how can kids focus when there’s black mold growing on the ceiling, leaking roofs, rodent infestations, buckling floors and other serious environmental hazards?
Our national union, the American Federation of Teachers, has created a powerful video to show just how deplorable the conditions have become. Watch the video and sign the petition, then share both with your friends and family, and ask them to join you.
The schools’ health and safety hazards are serious and must be addressed, but they’re just the beginning. Budget cuts have cut our programs to the bone. How can our kids reach their full potential when we’re forced to slash enriching programs like music and art? How can we support students through emotional or behavioral trouble when school counselor positions are eliminated? How can we give every student the attention he or she deserves when classrooms are chronically overcrowded?
The educators and staff in our schools are holding this district together, but our schools are literally crumbling around us. We’ll keep up this fight as long as it takes to ensure our kids have a fair chance and our members get the dignity, respect and fair wages they deserve.