From the Detroit News:
. . . .Teachers are upset by large class sizes, pay and benefit concessions, and a state plan to create a new, debt-free Detroit school district. DPS, which has been run by a series of state-appointed emergency managers since March 2009, has $515 million in past debts and unpaid vendor and pension bills.
At a lunchtime rally outside DPS’s Fisher Building headquarters, teachers said the district’s students are being jeopardized by poor building conditions and a shortage of educational materials.
Students lack textbooks and other supplies and come to learn in buildings where roofs are leaking and they breathe mold every day, said Kimberly Jackson, a seventh-grade teacher at Paul Robeson Malcom X Academy. Even some bathrooms don’t even have toilet paper, she said.
“We are set up for failure,” Jackson said to a crowd that cheered and chanted that they’d had enough.
“No other district ... would allow their children to be inside a school building under those conditions,” she said. “Many of our (classes) are way oversized — some with as many as 50 children inside one classroom. It’s time out for that. It’s time out for biz as usual, it’s time out for working in deplorable schools.”
Teachers, joined by parents and children, took turns talking about their frustration over conditions in the schools. Holding signs and chanting, the group of about 200 people marched around the building.
The rally was organized by DPS Teachers Fight Back – a grassroots group formed a week ago by teachers, parents and community members who want the best education for the students, Jackson said.
They outlined demands that include improving working conditions, decreasing classroom sizes and restoring staff positions, pay and benefits. They also called for local control to be restored at DPS.
“Our goal is not to shut the schools down,” said Jackson. “Our goal is to have a quality education for our children. ... We’ve been trying to make do with what we have. Our children deserve better.”
Joann Jackson attended the rally with her two grandchildren, 6-year-old Larry Price and 10-year-old Alayah Price, both students at Robeson.
“I am sick and tired of what is happening in Detroit Public School system,” Joanna Jackson said. “We are $4.5 billion in deficit. Every time I turn around, I am asking where’s the money? No one seems to know.” . . . .