Thursday, March 23, 2006


Over 800 Detroit teachers called-in sick Wednesday forcing the closure of more than 50 schools:
Some 53 Detroit elementary schools were closed this morning after nearly 800 teachers called in sick for classes.

The closings were announced about 15 minutes after the 7:30 a.m. start time at Pasteur, Dixon, Carleton and Barbara Jordan schools. While some children were loaded back on school buses for a trip back home, others had to wait at school for parents or guardians to pick them up.

School officials had estimated Tuesday that as many as 1,500 teachers planned to protest because they are lending the district five days' pay at the same time principals could see their salaries rise from 4.7 percent to 10.6 percent.

On Tuesday, Detroit teachers lent the first of those five days' pay, a part of a one-year contract it reached with the financially struggling district.

Principals argue their increase isn't a raise because they took a 10 percent pay cut in the last school year, and administrators say they need the pay boost to keep and attract principals.

At Dixon Elementary School on the city's west side, Henry McDuffy was frustrated as he picked up his grandchildren.

"The kids are in the middle of it," said McDuffy, who was late for work "There has got to be another way to deal with it rather than keep kids out of shool. It's an ugly situation."

District officials said about 300 of the district's 10,000 teachers and similar staffers call in sick on a typical day.

"We are confident that our teachers who care very deeply about our children will show up," school spokesman Lekan Oguntoyinbo said Tuesday.

Detroit Federation of Teachers officials said they urged staffers to show up. They said they risk disciplinary measures if teachers can't explain their absence. "We are urging our members to go to work," said union spokeswoman Michelle Price.

The average DFT member will see a reduction of about $1,636 in pay because of the loan. The remaining four days will also be taken out of the teachers' paychecks, and district officials have promised to repay the teachers in the future years.
Teachers in our district down here in California's "Imperial" Valley haven't seen an increase in take-home pay in nearly five years.

Unlike the teachers in Detroit, our administrators have received substantial pay increases (over and above the rate of inflation) during each of those five years.

And no, we teachers can't have any sort of "sickout." According to Board Policy, teachers may be fired for participating in any "unauthorized" job-action.
See this week's edition of The Carnival of education here and our latest posts over there.