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"Day of action" in Detroit, as Lansing debates DPS' future

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

Detroit teachers and parents had a “day of action” Tuesday.

It centered around a number of “walk-in” events at neighborhood schools throughout the city.

Those brief rallies were meant to show public support for investing in schools and educators.

They’re designed to complement the recent wave of teacher sickout protests that have drawn attention to deteriorating buildings and other crisis within the Detroit Public Schools.

Standing with her grandson outside Greenfield-Union Elementary-Middle School, Billie Stewart said students there deserve the same classroom resources as their counterparts in suburban schools.

“I’m talking about computers, I’m talking about music teachers, I’m talking about art teachers – things that would give them more than just a minimum wage job,” Stewart said. “Something that would give them a future that they could look forward to.”

The Detroit Federation of Teachers has not organized the teacher sickouts, but it did organize the walk-ins.

DFT Vice President Terrence Martin said the idea behind the walk-ins “is to bring the community together around this fight.

“It’s going to take parents, it’s going to take teachers, it’s going to take community folks, for us to get what’s best for children,” Martin said.

That fight is for the very future of DPS, which will go bankrupt sometime this spring without some kind of state aid.

State lawmakers held more hearings on Gov. Snyder’s controversial, bankruptcy-style DPS restructuring plan as the events went on in Detroit.

Louise Ingram, whose granddaughter is a third grader at Greenfield-Union, said she “doesn’t know what will work” for DPS at this point. But she feels the teachers are “not being treated fairly.”

“So I stand in solidarity with the teachers, you know, so far as asking that we get something better going than what’s already in place,” Ingram said. “Because it’s not working.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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