The DPS strike held solid today. So few teachers are crossing lines
the administration stopped keeping a count. The Detroit News, in
particular, ran vicious coverage against the strike, mis-characterizing
what is really a great deal of parent and community support (unorganized
and uncertain as it may be) as massive community anger against the
teachers. The News and the electronic media began a red-baiting campaign,
aimed at members of a dissident caucus, blaming them and outside agitators
for the strike--nonsense. All of the media are attacking the strike as a
blow to Detroit, Michigan, public education, children, and working
parents--except the NY Times which ran a remarkably sympathetic article.
Many different groups of teachers and parents are organizing in different
ways. There is a demonstration scheduled by one group on Sunday at 3 at the
school center building. There is a planning meeting scheduled for 3 at the
Unitarian church on Thursday.
The traditional Labor Day Festival, which has been stripped of any labor
political content by the AFl-CIO leadership, is set for Monday. So far, the
AFL has not mobilized any support for the strike whatsoever.
Notes of support for the strike can be sent to me. We will post them
www page asap. Please circulate the URL on the strike:
The paragraphs below were sent to me today from a Rouge Forum member.
that the teachers are on strike against, among other things, standardized
"We delivered our demands to Keith Johnson ( a union staffer--rg) as
negotiations (in his tuxedo) for the dinner break. He said they had already
agreed to reduce class size, remove any mention of merit pay and teachers
will be transferred to other schools if their school is "reconstituted"
instead of the orginal language which ultimately left them without a job.
We are not happy with all that he told us but know that the few things
have gotten so far are because we didn't just walk back in as John Elliott
wanted us to. We gave Johnson our list of demands and a group waited around
to make sure that several other members of the negotiating team received
them as they returned from dinner. I didn't wait around so don't know any
more about this.
We are printing up copies of the demands as well as our own "hotline"
what we did and the responses to be passed out on picket lines throughout
I am including below the list of demands as well as the wording on our
PRIORITY CONTRACT DEMANDS
DEMANDS FOR IMPROVING SCHOOLS THROUGH POSITIVE EDUCATIONAL
1. Reduce class size to: K-3 - 20 4-8 - 24
High school - 27
Special education by state mandate - 10
2. Adequate books, supplies, and physical education equipment, including:
- Two teacher manuals for every teacher
- All students have required textbooks for every subject,
- A second set of textbooks for home use for all students from grade 4
through high school.
- Teacher access to copy machines in every school.
- Complete sets of science materials for all science teachers.
- Overhead projectors and screens for all classrooms,
- Computers in every classroom with software for attendance records and
student grades. Internet access and e-mail capability.
- Committees of teachers the union committee in each school empowered to
decide what supplies, books, and equipment are needed.
- Electrical outlets on every wall in every classroom
- Bring all classrooms up to all applicable building codes.
3. Restore diverse educational programs (music, the arts, shop, etc.)
4. Recruit and retain Detroit teachers:
a. Bring our salaries up to a level comparable to those of the
surrounding Metropolitan Detroit school districts. Out of 85 school
districts in the Detroit area, Detroit teachers ranks 73rd in pay rates.
b. A strong seniority system. Eliminate any language that wotfid cause
discipline or dismissal based on student achievement on standardized tests.
c. No reconstitution of Detroit public schools.
d. No limitation on the use of sick, Family Leave, or personal leave time.
the proposed new attendance scheme.
e. No increase of the school working day. Restore prep time for teachers
and student lunch and break times to enhance the quality of what students
and teachers can do during the class day. f. Actively recruit new certified
and qualified Detroit teachers. g. Eliminate duty periods.
5. Full due process rights for teachers, including the right to appeal
principals' decisions on disciplines and other matters.
6. No reassignment of student grades by principals.
7. No strings attached to additional salary steps or pay raises.
8. Full and equal benefits and rights for all. DFT members including:
social workers, attendance agents, psychologists, teacher consultants,
adult education teachers,
teachers of the speech and language impaired and all ancillary staff;
recently hired employees.
9. A minimum of one building substitute per 400 students.
10. A daily prep for teachers.
11. No restriction on qualification for movement on the salary schedule to
Master's, Master's Plus 30, or Doctoral Schedules.
12. A school library for every school with a librarian and computers with
internet access. Fully stocked library with current materials.
13. No so-called merit pay.
14. No extension of the school day or school year beyond state requirements.
15. No split classes.
These demands were ratified in an open meeting of DFT members, parents,
students, unionists, and community leaders who support the DFT strike to
win quality education on September 1, 1999.
The petition reads as follows:
Petition in Support of the Strike to Win Quality Education
We, the undersigned teachers, students, parents and community members,
support the just struggle of the Detroit Federation of Teachers for quality
education and better working conditions. Together we demand, first and
foremost, smaller class sizes, more and better books, supplies and
equipment -- including computers -- the arts, music, and other diverse
educational programs for the students and teachers of Detroit. We demand
contract provisions for the recruitment and retention of qualified
teachers, including comparable wages with teachers in the Detroit
metropolitan area. Only these measures can achieve quality education.
We reject blaming teachers, students and parents for the problems caused
the neglect of public education in the city. We reject the attempt to
stifle real education and teacher creativity through the increased use of
and emphasis on standardized tests."