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Detroit Teacher: Relationship With Officials is Like ‘Abusive Relationship’ Where You ‘Stay for the Kids’

Detroit Teacher: Relationship with Officials is Like ‘Abusive Relationship’ Where You ‘Stay for the Kids’

Detroit public school teacher Lakai Wilson described to CNN the terrible conditions under which her students are being taught, and how only now after teacher protests made national news are changes being made.

Wilson described her and other teachers’ relationships with district and state officials as “abusive,” where teachers only stay for their love of the kids and where change only happens when things get too bad

"'I love these kids, I love them. I love their families. I've taught them; many of their parents were my students...I’m committed to them,’” Wilson told CNN.

"But she says they are being left behind and exposed to what she believes to be dangerous elements in the school. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an open investigation into the conditions there.”

Indeed, pictures of Spain Elementary-Middle School are hard to look at. The gym’s floor boards are warped, rendering it impossible to use. The playground is in similar shape, overtaken by clouds of steam. The only place for students to let off energy, then, is in the halls.

“[Wilson] tells us that after the sickout and inspections, along with media attention, improvements began to appear. Two humidifiers now run in the gym. A plastic sheet covers the entrance to the other side of the gym, where exposed ground remains,” CNN said.

But school officials are pointing the finger at the state’s legislature, which needs to act to provide the district with the money it needs to make improvement.

They’ve also taken a firm stance against the teacher protests by staging “sick-outs,” which have kept thousands of Detroit students home these past few weeks.

The school system's executive director of communications, Michelle A. "Zdrodowski told CNN [in an e-mail] that the teachers' sickouts 'don't help us in pleading our case for their assistance.’”

Still, many teachers feel as if it’s the only way they can cast the spotlight on the conditions Detroit students are suffering from.

In David Kade’s fourth-grade classroom, students are forced to work in sweltering heat of 94 degrees due to a busted heating system during the winter.

But this, still, is the least of his concerns- he describes seeing mice, roaches and bedbugs infest the school in previous years.

"Kade points to a water fountain outside his classroom. For part of his tenure at Spain, he says it was a hole that mice crawled in and out of, and eventually it was covered with a board, for about four years. But a new, working water fountain showed up right after the sick-out, Kade says,” according to CNN.

Teachers want to know why this has been allowed to happen- and until responsibility is taken, protest is unlikely to end.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

1/15/2016

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