Detroit Public Schools

How high is your 'gross' tolerance? Would you be able to fully concentrate on your work if you shared your office space with rats? Maybe you'd look away, stare at the ceiling until the rat parade passed by...except that ceiling is moldy, too – to the point of potential collapse. Better avert your eyes – try the floor.

Nope. With every step you take, you risk falling through the buckled, mildew-ridden floor. In the corner you see mushrooms growing, probably as a result of the toilet that is leaking into the room. Is this your office, or the world's worst nature preserve?

It's neither. You're a kid trying to learn in a Detroit public school.  It turns out that Detroit schools are almost as toxic as Flint's water. So how did it get this bad?

Four years ago, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder pushed for and signed into law legislation expanding the state's ability to appoint "emergency managers" to overrule elected officials, privatize public services, rewrite city contracts, or even fire elected officials in the name of balancing budgets.

The emergency managers’ short-term goal of saving money has proven deadly in Flint, and Snyder’s failed leadership on the issue earned him the top spot on the list of the world’s 19 most disappointing leaders by Fortune magazine. That was before the public school mess in Detroit intensified and made national news this year.

And all of this is happening under state-appointed emergency managers who have been in charge of Detroit public schools the past seven years. The horrifying conditions led the Detroit Public Schools board to file a class-action lawsuit against Snyder and state officials last month for ignoring the needs of public schools.

This is yet another cautionary tale about cutting funds and starving vital public services.

Teachers have been sounding the alarm to no avail. Many quit because of health reasons. The toxic buildings, teacher shortages, and mismanagement have led to a series of teacher protests. But instead of fixing the problems, local politicians retaliate against the teachers.

The Michigan House of Representatives has just passed a bill that fails to provide the schools with enough money and would strip the teachers of their voice at work and benefits, which will surely worsen the teacher shortages.

“The House is exploiting the serious financial crisis in Detroit’s public schools to carry out an anti-worker and anti-government agenda that will set up generations of students for failure,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr.

AFGE represents thousands of federal workers in the Detroit area, many with children in Detroit public schools. We are calling on lawmakers to support the compromise legislation passed by the Michigan Senate.

The people of Michigan have suffered enough. We can’t let students, teachers, and other workers become the latest victims of the governor’s failed leadership.

Click here to learn more about the situation and what you can do.

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