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Teacher 'Sickouts' Shutter Half of Detroit Schools

Teacher "sickouts" shuttered more than 60 Detroit schools Jan 11 in the latest dispute over working conditions in the troubled district.

The teachers are protesting large class sizes, poor building conditions, a lack of textbooks and other resources—in addition to the concessions they've made under a series of emergency managers, according to the Detroit News

The city has $515 million in debt and has lost 100,000 students since 1999, the newspaper reported. 

The sickouts have been encouraged by a teacher group called Detroit Strikes to Win, headed by Steve Conn, who was ousted last year as the head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Conn is seeking reinstatement and has promised to push for a strike if that doesn't happen.

The DFT itself hasn't ruled out a strike, but is trying to contain the anger that Conn's group seems to have tapped. "We may have to do a district-wide work stoppage or strike action, but we must be united and we must honor the democratic rights of all members with a secret ballot strike authorization vote," DFT President Ivy Bailey said in an undated statement on the DFT website.

Bailey is also calling on the state to hold hearings on the decrepit state of the district's schools. 

"We refuse to stand by while teachers, school support staff and students are exposed to conditions that one might expect in a Third World country, not the United States of America," she said in a statement

DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley has said he agrees that teachers have some legitimate concerns, but that the work stoppages are "unethical," and urged teachers to return to schools, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Read more about the situation from District Dossier.

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