Judge Rhodes lashes out against teacher sick-out

Posted at 4:07 PM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-05 16:08:16-04

Detroit Public Schools Transition Manager Steven Rhodes is lashing out following the teacher sick-outs that closed Detroit schools for two days.

Rhodes released the following letter: 

Like every insolvent organization that I have dealt with in my professional life, Detroit Public Schools is in a fragile state. It is fragile in its finances, in its ability to compete and in its relationships, especially with those to whom it is accountable. DPS needs the cooperation, perseverance, understanding, and support of everyone who is interested in its future. DPS needs all of that now and it will need all of it for years to come.

The process of reforming DPS must include full transparency. Therefore, I report these facts about the recent strike by the Detroit Federation of Teachers:

* It puzzled, angered and alienated state legislators of both political parties at the very moment that they are considering lifesaving legislation for DPS;

* It threatens the community’s ability to achieve our shared goal of a new, locally governed DPS that can give our students the best possible education;

* It kept more than 45,000 students out of the classroom for two days of instruction;

* It deprived children, children!, of a nutritious breakfast and lunch, as well as a hot supper for many;

* It forced working parents either to make last-minute alternative arrangements for the care of their children or to take the time off of work and lose their pay;

* It will undermine our ability to retain our students;

* It will undermine our ability to attract new students;

* It will undermine our ability to attract new teachers;

* It diminished, on the threshold of collective bargaining, our productive and mutually beneficial relationship with DFT leadership;

* It may cost DPS $4 million in lost state aid, which is equivalent to the amount necessary to hire 40 teachers;

* It perpetuated the negative highly misleading narrative enveloping DPS that some have accepted;

* It was inconsistent with the commitment and dedication to our students that our educators have commendably demonstrated through many challenging years and;

* It was unnecessary.

To achieve our goal to giving DPS a fresh start, we must openly and honestly recognize the serious challenges that DPS faces. I have certainly tried to do that and will continue to do that. At the same time, we must also acknowledge the internal challenges that DFT leadership faces. Whatever those challenges may be, however, they must not be addressed at the cost of depriving our students of instruction, leaving our children hungry, burdening our parents and jeopardizing the future of DPS.

But the stakes are even bigger than the future of DPS and the education of its students. The future of the City of Detroit is also at stake.

As the Transition Manager for DPS, I pledge to do my best not to allow this unfortunate and unnecessary strike to interfere with my commitment to assist DPS in achieving its mission and in transitioning the district to local control. I ask everyone with a stake in the future of DPS and the City of Detroit to join me in that pledge.


Judge Steven Rhodes

Transition Manager