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Obama to Meet with Michigan Gov. Today; Will Detroit Public Schools Be Discussed?

Obama to Meet with Michigan Gov. Today; Will Detroit Public Schools Be Discussed?

It really is an eerie case of deja vu.

In January, as the Flint water crisis was reaching a fever pitch, so was the dissatisfaction of the teachers working in the beleaguered Detroit Public Schools district.

Each week saw dozens of schools closed as teachers called out sick in protest of deplorable learning and working conditions. Taking to social media, Detroit teachers shared photos of mushrooms growing in classrooms, leaky pipes, buckling floors and even unwanted visitors from the rodent family.

That week, President Obama paid a visit to Detroit to stop by the North American International Auto Show. The White House said Obama was there to see "the remarkable progress made by the city, its people and neighborhoods.” It’s education system in peril was not mentioned.

Months later, another round of sick-outs that closed nearly all Detroit Public Schools finally evoked a response from the White House.

During Teacher Appreciation Week, no less, the district warned teachers they might not be able to pay them their earned salaries past June 30th due to the district’s severe budgets issues; the American Federation of Teachers figured about two-thirds of teachers would not receive their earned salaries over the summer months.

In response to the news, thousands of teachers responded by calling out sick two days in a row and closing 94 out of 97 schools in the district.

In the second day of protest, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing that the sick-outs are “major problem.” The Obama administration urged the district and its teachers to come to an agreement for the sake of students.

While Detroit teachers have returned to work today following a guarantee of pay, the wounds festering under the recently applied band-aid are unlikely to heal without long-term treatment.

Though President Obama will be meeting with the state’s governor Rick Snyder today to follow-up on the Flint crisis, the White House cannot say whether or not the sad state of affairs in Detroit Public Schools will be discussed despite such a discussion seeming like a no-brainer.

"President Barack Obama is headed to Michigan on Wednesday to visit Flint and review the response to the water crisis there, but Earnest said he did not know if the subject of the teacher protests would come up in a meeting scheduled with Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder,” the Detroit Free Press said.

The ceremony honoring the 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes yesterday was beautiful and inspiring, a wonderful addition to a yearly tradition honoring the country’s educators.

Let’s make a new tradition this Teacher Appreciation Week- and address the kind of turmoil occurring in Detroit Public Schools head on.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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