About 60 Detroit teachers protested Monday outside a court where a judge is to hear arguments in a case that could force teachers to stop calling in sick as a form of protest.
A couple dozen other teachers were in the courtroom waiting for the hearing to start. Teachers' sickouts have repeatedly forced Detroit to close public schools in the past two weeks, keeping thousands of students at home. In a bid to stop the absences, the city's school district filed a lawsuit.
The governor and the school district's emergency manager should be put on trial, not teachers, according to Detroit teacher Steve Conn. Teachers are upset over pay, class sizes, building conditions and Gov. Rick Snyder's plan to overhaul the district.
Two schools closed Monday because of a high volume of teacher absences, said the district, which has about 100 public schools and 46,000 students. On Wednesday a sickout shut down more than 85 of the district's schools.
That and other sickouts have angered Republicans in Michigan's Legislature, which they control. Last week they proposed — and promised to quickly pass — legislation to make it easier to deem such work stoppages illegal strikes.
Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan. The proposed legislation would shorten the deadline for the state Employment Relations Commission to conduct a hearing on complaints from 60 days to two. It also would allow hearings to be held for more than one teacher at a time, empower the state superintendent to revoke their teaching certificates and impose larger fines.
In recent months, Detroit educators have stepped up efforts to protest their low pay, Snyder's plans for the district and its ramshackle finances, dilapidated buildings and overcrowded classrooms.
The district is run by an emergency manager appointed by Snyder. Warning of a potential bankruptcy, he has pushed state lawmakers to pass bills to overhaul the school district by splitting it in two.
The Associated Press