The DPS teacher “sick out” is a no-win situation for all the parties involved. In case you have not heard the news, 94 of Detroit’s 97 schools are shut down because teachers are primarily protesting pay concerns as well as working conditions.
There are two sides to this issue; the first is the right of the teachers. As CNN stated:
“94 schools closed after more than 1,500 teachers called in sick to protest after learning the district only has enough money to pay teachers through June 30.
Because some teachers can elect to receive their paychecks year-round, the union representing teachers argues that shortfall means those educators have already started to work for free” 1
It is absolutely absurd to expect teachers to work for free, especially in a system such as Detroit Public Schools. Teachers arrive to their schools only to be met with crumbling infrastructure, fights between students, and a lack of supplies. All teachers deserve to be compensated fairly for their labor, and it is good that Detroit teachers are standing up for themselves.
But DPS cannot turn a blind eye to their own problems that have solely been caused by their own decisions. One example is DPS “losing” $30 million in federal aid meant for teacher pensions. Simply stated, DPS never “sent the money to the state pension fund” and now they are being audited to find out where the money went. 2
Another example of corruption in DPS is the embezzlement scam where the Free Press reported that 12 DPS principles stole $1M in kickback funds through people and organizations such as school vendors. 3
Now this is not to say that the teachers are at fault for any of this, they aren’t, but DPS often only has themselves to blame for cash flow problems.
The second side of this issue is the effect on the school children. Detroit has consistently been given poor marks for the performance of their students. The more sickouts that occur, the less time students have to learn which will put them even further behind in terms of academic achievement than their counterparts in the metropolitan areas.
Moreover, DPS schools are sanctity for some students. Some DPS students live in crime ridden areas where the only safe place for them is a public school. If they do not have school to go to, they risk more than missing a day of learning.
But students also can find common ground with the sickouts. They believe their teachers deserve to be paid, and even more so, they believe the conditions in DPS schools are beyond atrocious and must be fixed.
The ‘sickouts’ are a bad situation for everyone. This is another example of what occurs when a government system becomes too big and runs amok for years without there being any consequences.
 – “Detroit schools closed again due to teacher ‘sickouts’,” CNN, 5/3/16
 – “Feds: DPS keeps $30M in aid meant for pensions,” The Detroit News, 4/26/16
 – “Feds: 12 Detroit principals stole $1M in kickback scheme,” The Detroit Free Press, 3/31/16