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  January 13, 2016

Detroit Teachers Shutdown Public Schools in Protest of Deplorable Conditions

Public school parent Stephanie Beal says she supports the teacher protests and the idea of an elected school board to ensure a quality education for all students
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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: A majority of public schools in Detroit were closed Monday, as teachers called out of work sick to protest what could only be described as appalling conditions in the city schools. Inaction over rodent infestation, mold, and freezing temperatures are among their concerns. Which means more than 30,000 students stayed home from school on Monday alone, with some more 20 schools closed Tuesday, another 5 closed Wednesday. The sickouts are expected to continue. Michigan governor Rick Snyder has criticized the move, saying the teachers aren't using the proper venues to raise their concerns. The Detroit school system has been controlled by an emergency manager, giving the local community little say in what happens in their schools.

Well, now joining us to discuss this, we're going to Detroit, Michigan to talk to Stephanie Beal. She's a public school parent who also serves on the parent committee for Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy. Thanks so much for joining us.

STEPHANIE BEAL: Thank you for having me.

NOOR: So, so Ms. Beal, you're a parent of two students at a school that was shut down over these sickouts. What is, what is your reaction? Do you support these sickouts?

BEAL: Absolutely. I support the teachers, because under the conditions that they work in, they still come, and they're professional. The same issues that affect the teachers also affect the students. So we're in this together, and we have to work together. Parents and the community have to come together to support our teachers. Our children are our future, so the fight right now is about receiving a quality education. No student should have to be in a classroom where there's 30 or 40 students. A teacher can't function like that either. If there's lack of health insurance or proper health coverage for teachers, then teachers can't come in the classroom and teach. So a sick teacher can't teach children, either, and not on a consistent basis.

NOOR: And can you, can you describe some of the conditions in your students' school?

BEAL: We have large class sizes. Again, the teacher shortages. We have some supplies. We're short on some supplies. You know, again, they expect the teachers to perform at the highest level with less resources.

NOOR: And Detroit public schools are controlled by an emergency manager. His name is Darnell Earley. And I wanted to get your response to some of his comments. He criticized the teachers because he basically is saying that putting students at risk by not showing up to work.

BEAL: I think students are being put at risk when they don't have the proper supplies in their classrooms. You're putting students at risk when you're making their classrooms too crowded. You're putting students at risk when you're not giving the proper services at the Detroit public schools. Not only that, Mr. Earley is the very same emergency manager that was over the Flint community when they had the water crisis, which is going on right now.

So again, I say he is putting more children in jeopardy than the teachers have done [any]. And if he did that in Flint, secretly and no one knew about it, and he's been gone for a number of years now, or however long he's been gone, then what is it that Mr. Earley is doing secretly that we don't know about it, with our children, with our community? What would we hear about or find out in five, ten years that's happened in our community because of Mr. Earley's responsibilities? So what would we find out later?

NOOR: I wanted to get your demands of Governor Rick Snyder, who appointed Earley, and what kind of changes you want to see happen across the schools in Detroit, including the school where your children go to school.

BEAL: We want to see an elected school board by the parents, by the communities. We want our schools to stop being closed. You know, they're closing schools. Children have to walk longer distances, or catch the buses to school. So we would like them to stop coming and tearing up our communities. They made another school district. The state is already over DPS. But they came in with the separate school district, called the EAA. Why did he not, instead of making more, a separate district, take the same resources he put in the separate district, if put in the remaining district to strengthen it?

NOOR: And what you're referring to is the district that's been, essentially, privatized, right? So you're saying the privatized school district is getting more resources than the public school district.

BEAL: Yes, they are. And because it is also state-run, but you made a separate district. Again, you're working against yourself. And why?

NOOR: Well, Stephanie Beal, thank you so much for joining us, and we're certainly going to come back to Detroit and get an update as these conditions remain unaddressed, and as growing calls for action and the removal of emergency manager, and for Governor Rick Snyder to take action--now there's calls for him to step down over the crisis in Detroit, and also in Flint, as well.

BEAL: Yes, I believe it. And you know, our overall concern with this fight is for our children to have a quality education. They should not receive any less of education than other students in our state. So they deserve the best. We believe in our children, we believe in our community. And nobody should be coming here trying to tear it up.

NOOR: Thank you so much for joining us.

BEAL: Thank you.

NOOR: And thank you for joining us at the Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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