Corruption in Michigan: Deplorable Conditions of Detroit Public Schools

As Flint struggles with its toxic water crisis, the Detroit Public Schools system is facing a major crisis of its own — and the two issues share a common link: The Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager was formerly Flint’s emergency manager who had praised the decision to tap into the polluted Flint River for the city’s water source.


Related Story: Mich. Gov. Ignores Safety, Poisons Poor Black Residents to Save a Buck

Teachers in Detroit have been protesting the deplorable conditions of their schools and on Wednesday staged their biggest “sick-out,” where teachers refused to work to bring attention to the matter. This forced 88 of the city’s 97 public schools to close, according to the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Facebook page.

Some of the problems schools face include significantly overpopulated classrooms, leaky ceilings, mildew, broken heaters, warped floors, bugs and rats. In addition to the poor building conditions, teachers are also protesting cuts in salaries and increased health care expenses.

Like Flint, Detroit is also a majority-Black city, with 82.7 percent of its population being Black. This greatly contrasts with the overall population of Michigan, which is 14.2 percent Black, as well as the U.S. Black population of 12.7 percent.

The DPS requested a temporary restraining order be filed to prevent teachers from calling any further sick-outs. Among the damages were “students deprived of their right to attend school, students’ academic progress adversely impacted, waste of taxpayer money and parents forced to miss work.” A judge Thursday afternoon denied this request.

Darnell Earley, DPS emergency manager, said of the closings, “We have heard teachers’ concerns and identified short and long-term solutions to several key issues. It’s time for all of us to work together to ensure that there will be a school system in Detroit for future generations of the city’s children.”

He called the closings an “extreme disservice” to the students who were forced to miss school and said the sick-outs were “unacceptable” and “very unethical.”

But in the eyes of Flint and Detroit residents, Earley, who also served as the emergency manager in Flint beginning in 2013, is the one who’s unethical, not the teachers — beginning with his involvement in the water crisis.

According to an op-ed written by Earley, he did not make the decision to switch the water supply, and the plan “was approved by Flint’s mayor and confirmed by a City Council vote of 7-1 on March 25,” months before he was appointed emergency manager in October.

“It did not fall to me to question, second guess or invalidate the actions taken prior to my appointment,” he said.

But Earley, who made $180,000 a year in his emergency manager position in Flint, spoke out with high regard for the switch in April 2014, saying, “This is indeed the best choice for the city of Flint going forward.”

“The water quality speaks for itself,” he said.

With residents now facing the consequences of lead poisoning, which could result in severe and permanent health damage, the quality does in fact speak for itself.

The conditions in which Detroit students learn in on a daily basis also speak for themselves. People have used Twitter to post pictures of the schools, raising the question of, at the least, how effective the learning environment can be for these children and, at the most, how damaging this could be for Detroit’s youth.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took to her Twitter account to speak out about the DPS protests.

“No one would tolerate these conditions in a wealthy suburb,” she tweeted. “Detroit students and teachers deserve better.”

The link between the water crisis and the dismal school conditions has not been lost on teachers, including Joel Berger, an English teacher at Cass Technical High School.

“Teachers, parents and students are just fed up with the injustices that are being done to our students,” he said. “It’s about Earley, who was the emergency manager in Flint when they switched the water over, and now he’s being charged with looking over Detroit Public Schools.”

And as Flint residents seek the resignation of Gov. Rick Snyder, citizens of Detroit are protesting for the removal of Earley, who now makes a salary of $225,000 a year while the DPS face a crippling $515 million in debt. The debt also resulted in 100 layoffs in the state of Michigan’s largest school district this year.

Snyder had hoped to introduce a solution to the debt problem before 2016 but has not yet even introduced a bill regarding a resolution to the legislature.

Latest News

Syracuse University campus

News Roundup: TV Diversity, Syracuse Hire, and Segregated Training

Check out our news roundup of diversity and inclusion updates and insights from across the U.S.: Syracuse University Creates Athletics Diversity Position  While most colleges and universities around the county are making COVID-19-related cuts in regard to their athletic departments, Syracuse University has hired Salatha T. Willis as the associate athletic…

What Friends Tell Friends: Choose Kaiser Permanente

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org. Integrated, nonprofit health plan tops NICE Satmetrix customer experience benchmark study for 10th straight year. For the 10th year in a row, more people would recommend Kaiser Permanente to a friend or colleague than any other health plan in the nation, according to the recently released…

Cesar Conde

NBCUniversal Sets Ambitious 50% Diversity Goal for Women, People of Color

Cesar Conde, chairman at NBCUniversal News Group, announced a groundbreaking goal to have a 50% diverse workforce at NBCUniversal, according to Deadline. Conde, the first Latino in this role, outlined his plans in an internal video for employees on Wednesday. The ultimate goal is for NBCUniversal, No. 7 on DiversityInc’s 2020…

Mastercard Expands ShopOpenings.com to the U.S. & Canada, Delivering a Search Tool That Identifies What Stores Near You Are Open for Business

Originally published on mastercardcontentexchange.com. Search solution complements new Digital Acceleration for Small Business global initiative which helps small businesses advance digitally and drive online commerce As businesses seek to draw customers back both in store and online, Mastercard is introducing new tools to support them. Today, Mastercard announced the geographic…

Abbott Receives FDA Approval for New Heart Rhythm Devices Featuring Bluetooth Connectivity and Continuous Remote Monitoring

Originally posted on Abbott.com Abbott (NYSE: ABT) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the company’s next-generation Gallant™ implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D) devices. The devices bring new benefits to patients with heart rhythm disorders, including a patient-preferred design without…

AT&T Gives Back to Teachers, Nurses and Physicians with New Savings on Unlimited Wireless Plans

Originally posted on ATT.com More Than $1 Million Pledged to Teacher-focused Non-profit Organizations Including Teach For America and Alliance for Excellent Education AT&T* is giving back to America’s teachers, nurses and physicians that give their best to our communities every day by extending exclusive savings on our best wireless plans for…