The House Republican proposal for Detroit Public Schools calls for paying the debt amassed during state control of the district, but the remainder of the proposal is an attempt to masquerade attacks on those who teach our children as “putting students first.”
“It is not putting students first to include the same failed policies that rely solely on standardized testing to make high stakes decisions, like holding kids back, grading schools, and closing buildings,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. “It is not putting students first to undermine parents’ confidence that their children are being taught by competent and trustworthy people by hiring noncertified teachers or by privatizing instructional staff. It’s not putting students first to exacerbate the ongoing teacher shortage at DPS by slashing pay and benefits for teachers and stripping school employees of their ability to bargain or have a voice in their working conditions. It is not putting students first to threaten the financial solvency of the Michigan Public School Retirement System for the entire state and the retirement security of DPS employees by forcing all new DPS employees into a defined contribution retirement system. And it is not putting students first to not address the deplorable building conditions in many Detroit schools.”
While House Republicans propose providing DPS $72 million per year for 10 years from the state’s General Fund as a way to offset the cost of paying for the debt accumulated under state control, it’s imperative that they fully explain where this money will come from. AFT Michigan has said from the onset that no school, community college, university, or essential state program see a funding cut. The state must pay this debt – not kids or their families.
“We will continue to advocate for the real reforms that the children of Detroit need,” Hecker continued. “The chaotic, wild-west education landscape in Detroit needs to be addressed, so that state funding flows into the classrooms and not debt payments, the local community can be empowered through a locally-elected school board, wrap-around and support services can be coordinated to improve quality and access, schools are sited and opened where they are needed, and teachers are given the resources and tools they need to improve.”