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Reconstitution Plan Gets Detroit Teachers Hopping Mad


From guest blogger Dakarai I. Aarons:

Detroit teachers—2,600 of them—at 41 schools being reconstituted under No Child Left have been told they have to re-apply for their jobs. And they've been given just a few days to do it.

The affected teachers, who are at schools that have failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress for at least five years, received notices Tuesday saying they'd have to apply by Friday.

Robert C. Bobb, the governor-appointed emergency financial manager who is running the district, has fired 33 principals and replaced 37 others .

Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, told The Detroit News he considered Bobb's actions a violation of the union's contract with the school district and would be looking into legal action.

Look for more on this and other issues in Bobb's efforts to remake Detroit schools in the next edition of Education Week, hitting a mailbox near you the week of Aug. 12!


For what its worth, the issue here should be the law. I won't complain if Detroit or other systems use a legal tactic along the lines of bankruptcy to close schools, even if it costs good teachers their jobs. After all, good auto workers lost their jobs when GM declared bakruptcy.

My complaint is the denial of teachers the basic leagal protections that all Americans enjoy. I'll be curious what the lawyers say.

The dangers with the No Child Left Behind act are clearly being felt in Detroit. In the creation centralized school control, teachers are often casualties of a school system's failure. The plight of the Detroit school system is felt nationwide. It has been a failing institution much like its primary industries for generations. The question that arises is how does one repair such devastation. Clearly Robert C. Bobb is taking the scorched earth policy as a solution to the current dilemma.
The politics of No Child Left behind clearly leave the burden of progress on principals. When a school underperforms, the principal is the first to go. The reality of the situation should dictate that the principal have full control of their school especially in the hiring of educators. The teachers are on the frontlines in the determination of student progress. Progress that is measured by standardized exams. The earlier displacement of nearly 70 principals by Bobb is at the root of this current debacle. After sacking 33 principals and reassigning 37 others, Bobb is clearly trying to establish a top down system where principals control the schools and are beholden to measurement under No Child Left Behind.
No Child Left Behind does much to erode union strength and confidence as 2600 teachers in Detroit can attest to. This upheaval has 2600 people trying to scramble to get their old jobs back. Has this what NCLB come to? The erosion of basic job protections in order to be subordinate to a political act that has been shown to be ineffective. NCLB is the increased federalization of one of the most important aspects of a person's life that of education. At one time, there were over 200,000 school districts, now there are about 16,000. Much of the centralization has to deal with economics but one cannot help but think there are other factors at work. Does this centralization of our nation's school systems meet the needs of our children? No, what has done is subordinated those needs to a national political mandate, one which is blown by the fickle political winds of the time.
Detroit teachers are clearly the victims of this mandate. Bobb is clearly trying to remake the school district in the way that he sees fit. This would normally be the job of a mayor and its city council, but with the fallout of the last administration, this is job for which the current administration does not have the strength to take on. It's ironic to see how political corruption leads to bigger governmental controls. Local control would better meet the needs of the populace but what do you do when the locals are out of control?
The Detroit situation clearly shows the dangers of how a political act like NCLB affects a school system. There is no excuse for the failure of the schools. It is the fault of the politicians as well as school employees for letting the failure become institutionalized. Now regardless of the attractiveness, NCLB is reconstituting schools with an outcome that is just as uncertain and success is not guaranteed. However, there are 2600 people caught in the undertow of politics with now uncertain futures. I don't see the solution in NCLB nor Bobb but what are the other alternatives. We must find another way, not just for Detroit but for us all.

I taught for 10 years at middle and high schools. I worked very hard to advance within the system. I got promoted to Administration. Again I worked very hard at my job. My school has made AYP for the past 5 years. I left DFT and joined OSAS and I knew according to the contract that I have the right to come back to DFT if I needed. Where am I now?
My position got eliminated!
I have no right in OSAS and I have no right to come back to DFT. I don't even have a chance to be hired as a teacher.
I'm a laid-off Curriculum Coordinator. Thank you very much...

I am sorry for the calamities befalling Detroit school personnel. I agree that this was too short a time to allow teachers to reapply. On the other hand, as a conservative, I see the law of unintended consequences happening here and think it will be another lifetime before Detroit is economically viable again. You live in a state that loves taxes and the more the merrier (people flee when they are overtaxed and underrepresented). You live in a state and city where unions have been allowed rampant control over businesses and organizations and that has really worked out well, huh? You live in a city where the government forced a social experiment (forced integration) in the 1970's which caused people to flee in droves. You must make the changes from within.

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