Flashpoint 1/17/16: Conditions at DPS, Flint water crisis

The dramatic unveilings at the North American International Auto Show had some competition for headlines with the water crisis in Flint and the conditions at Detroit public schools.

Devin Scillian is joined by Reggie Turner, attorney and former state board of education member, Clark Durant, founder of Cornerstone Schools, Nancy Kaffer, columnist at The Detroit Free Press, and Sheila Cockrel, former Detroit city council member, to discuss the crisis in the Detroit public schools.

Teacher sickouts brought to light the horrendous conditions in DPS that included mold and mushrooms in the buildings.

Turner brought up the strike that occurred in 1999 and led to over 10,000 students leaving the district which hurt the schools’ budget the following year.

“The sad part about that is there are a lot of fabulous teachers and principals within the DPS system who are in a highly politicized system that makes good learning hard to accomplish,” Durant said. “I think these sickouts, while they bring attention; in the long run I think they’re going to hurt the long-term sustainability of the system.”

Kaffer explained the frustration that these teachers are going through and the deplorable conditions of the schools they are forced to try to teach in. The sickouts caused Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to tour some of the schools where mold was found, mushrooms were discovered growing from a wall and a dead mouse was found in a trap in plain view. Students are expected to wear their coats until noon so the school can save on heat. Kaffer said that the teachers are frustrated year after year, knowing that people understand the conditions but that nothing is done.

“I don’t think children can achieve real success in this kind of environment,” Cockrel said.

The full discussion about the DPS crisis is in part one of the video above.

President Barack Obama declared Saturday that an emergency exists in Flint in response to a request from Governor Rick Snyder. The action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief which will provide water, water filters, water filter cartridges, and water test kits to residents.

“All the stuff that has been happening this week, the National Guard and Michigan State Police going door to door to let people know not to drink the water and deliver bottled water, that’s week one stuff. That’s immediate crisis response stuff,” Kaffer said. “This should have been happening in September or October.

Cockrel discussed how General Motors stopped using the water from the Flint River water a year ago because it corroded the engines they were making.

The issue of blame was discussed and the full discussing is available in part two of the video above.

Devin was joined by John McElRoy of Autoline Detroit at Cobo Center where they toured the North American International Auto Show. That segment is available in part three of the video above.

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