Right now, Detroit teachers are spread out all over the state working to get support. They are working to have a voice in legislation that will impact not only Detroit kids, but every tax payer in Michigan.
It isn’t on the agenda yet, but will definitely be the hot topic behind closed doors during caucus discussions in the Senate tomorrow.
Teachers and members of the American Federation of Teachers have scheduled meetings with lawmakers they believe are on the fence about how to handle the Detroit Public Schools financial crisis.
They are going door to door in their districts, hoping to encourage voters to put pressure on their lawmakers.
A group of teachers spoke to 7 Action News as they went door to door in a neighborhood in Royal Oak on Monday.
“The purpose is to get them to ask their lawmakers to vote no on the House bill,” said Sean Perrin, a 5th grade teacher at Clark Prep Academy.
“I thought I would be in a classroom teaching students, and just educating them,” said Jason Posey, who works at Noble Elementary as a 3rd Grade Teacher.
Posey says he didn’t realize educating kids would mean getting involved in politics. He says it is essential because he believes the House bill does not provide enough funding to put Detroit Public Schools on the right track.
They heard lawmakers behind it say it is a lot of money, just over $500 million. The problem? That is basically the debt accumulated after the state took control more than seven years ago.
Teachers feel the state has contributed to decreasing enrollment, declining academic performance, and that debt. To only compensate the district for the debt accumulated under state management, doesn’t solve the problem.
These teachers prefer a separate Senate bill which would provide about $200 million dollars more to restructure and hopefully fix the problem.
“We shouldn’t be low-balling education,” said Posey.
Teachers also said they are working to raise awareness that the legislation doesn’t just allow uncertified teachers in Detroit, it puts in one district something lawmakers behind it want in every district.
They have heard Rep. Daniela Garcia (R-Holland) say that she believes uncertified teachers should be allowed in all public schools. She believes it will help address the teacher shortage without increasing the costs of hiring teachers. She says there are qualified people without teaching certificates.
The state already has alternative certification programs to allow professionals to use their work experience to the benefit of kids with one semester of coursework and a mentor. The legislation would leave administrators with the option to not even require that.
“They are coming for your neighborhood next,” said Posey.