Will Detroit teachers' dispute go beyond sick-outs?

Local, national teacher union reps meet with mayor in Detroit

A representative from the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) escorted Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to three Detroit Public Schools (DPS) buildings on Tuesday.

The first stop was Spain Elementary School in the Detroit Medical Center area. Spain Elementary could be considered a poster child for why teachers have organized and staged 88 school sick-outs in the past two days.

"The water leaks through here when it rains, in the worst way. On a rainy day you have water throughout this entire hallway," said Ronald Alexander, principal at Spain.

Without question, there are problems with some of Detroit's school facilities. However, the district maintains keeping kids out of the classroom is not the answer.

"Sixty-four buildings yesterday, 24 buildings today, it's not helping us make our case to the legislature," said DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski.

It gets muddy when figuring out which tail is wagging the dog, and who has control.

"You get to a point when you say, 'Enough is enough," said Rhonda Quin.

DFT and AFT reps say they're not condoning the sick-outs but they support their teachers. They say they are not meeting to organize a strike vote, but they'll entertain the idea if it comes up.

They want their voices heard and, yes, Lansing and Detroit leaders hear the protests loud and clear. However, it's difficult to tell who the conductor is driving this train. Without a conductor, it's difficult to tell what happens next.


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