LANSING — State Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) was in the Court of Appeals in Detroit today to support 28 defendants — including two dozen Detroit Public Schools (DPS) teachers — who are facing a complaint of wrongfully striking. Teachers across the Detroit school system have been calling in sick and sharing photos on social media to call attention to the deplorable state of many of Detroit’s schools, and the dangerous conditions Detroit’s children are forced to endure when they go to school.
“Detroit teachers have been doing everything they can to get people in Detroit, Michigan and the nation to understand the horrible conditions that exist and most Detroit schools,” Rep. Gay-Dagnogo said. “Instead of being thanked for bringing the issue to light, two dozen of Detroit’s best teachers now face legal action. This lawsuit doesn’t do anything to help our children. We need to take immediate action to save Detroit schools.”
Rep. Gay-Dagnogo, a former Detroit teacher currently serving as the House Democrats’ Urban Education Reform advisor and chairwoman, has made improving Detroit schools her top priority in Lansing. She is working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to secure funding for Detroit schools so that they can operate to the end of the school year, and to find longer-term solutions that will finally address the challenges faced by DPS.
“I support the actions of the Detroit teachers because they have made the nation take notice of the unacceptable and disgraceful state of Detroit’s schools,” Rep. Gay-Dagnogo said. “Now that the country is aware of the true state of Detroit schools, it will be harder for Lansing to ignore the problem. For that reason, these teachers should be thanked — not prosecuted. I stand with Detroit teachers and will fight for them in Lansing.”
DPS teachers have used sick-outs and photos shared on social media to publicize the alarming conditions that exist in the schools. The district is expected to run out of money before the end of the year. Instead of thanking teachers for calling attention to the urgency of the DPS situation, teachers have faced a backlash, including the lawsuit filed by DPS emergency manager Darnell Earley to punish teachers who took part in the sick-outs and a bill authored by Sen. Phil Pavlov (D-St. Clair Township) that seeks to prevent future teacher sick-outs.
“Detroit teachers have endured years of pay cuts, increased health care premiums and co-pays, emergency managers, the failed Education Achievement Authority and legislation intended to undermine public schools in favor of for-profit charter schools,” Rep. Gay-Dagnogo said. “Despite it all, Detroit teachers have always put our kids first and continue to do so. Instead of being thanked for the hard work they do, they are being punished. What we need are solutions that will help our kids, not retribution against teachers who are trying to do the right thing.”
Gay-Dagnogo has been a tireless supporter of Detroit teachers during recent sick-outs. However, over the weekend, Gay-Dagnogo urged Detroit school teachers to return to their jobs on Monday.
“I will always support Detroit teachers who put their heart and soul into teaching our children,” Rep. Gay-Dagnogo said. “Their bold actions shined a bright light on the deplorable conditions of our schools, and I can’t thank them enough for that. The nation now knows what our children face every day. I urge teachers to return to their jobs, while concerned community members and I will be in court to support their colleagues who face legal action for calling attention to the deterioration of Detroit schools.”