For the second day in a row almost all of Detroit’s public schools are closed. As of 7:15 a.m., 94 of the district’s 97 schools were shut down due to masses of teachers calling in sick. It wasn’t a plague, it was an act of protest.
Teachers are not showing up for work because of indications that the district will soon run out of money and be unable to compensate teachers for their labors when the next pay day comes. The creative method of protesting can be attributed to the fact that Michigan state law forbids teachers from striking.
“Let us be clear. We are still locked out,” Detroit Federation of Teachers president Ivy Bailey said in an email she sent Monday evening to the union members. “We do not work for free and therefore we do not expect you to report to school tomorrow.”
According to Governor Rick Snyder, the district’s debt will reach about $515 million by summer. Much of the debt can be attributed to a drop in enrollment and therefore a drop in government funding as parents turn to charter schools and other alternatives to the public school system. The total number of students currently enrolled in Detroit public schools is less than a third of what it was in the 2003-2004 school year. A panel has been convened to discuss the possibility of bailing out and overhauling the school district.
“We remain confident that the funding issues for DPS will be resolved, and have been working daily with Lansing to move the reform legislation forward,” officials wrote on the school system’s Facebook page.