News Story

Detroit School Bailout Jeopardized by Teacher Sickouts

'A lot of legislators are afraid of it'

A series of sickouts orchestrated by Detroit Public School teachers that has closed 83 schools since Dec. 10 is jeopardizing the chances of a bailout being approved by the Legislature, according to some Republican lawmakers.

The sickouts, which have impacted more than 34,000 students, come as the Legislature is being asked to approve Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan for a $715 million bailout of Detroit Public Schools. Snyder’s proposal needs legislative approval.

“The timeliness of it (sickouts) is rather unfortunate, because we are right in the middle of addressing the governor’s proposal,” said Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “It is going to be a heavy lift to get citizens of Michigan who aren’t in Detroit to belly up to the table and share in the load. Having behavior like this doesn’t help. These kind of behaviors are counterproductive at the very least.”

Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, who serves as the chair of the Senate Education Committee, called the sickouts “ridiculous antics.”

“I can’t see how this would ever have a favorable impact on that discussion,” Pavlov said in an email. “Denying education to students in order to advance the adults’ agenda is a flawed legislative strategy. It’s time they took the situation more seriously, because this could certainly affect outcomes.”

Snyder’s proposal to deal with DPS debt and school governance is already facing obstacles, according to Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

“I think it would be very difficult to pass,” Jones said. “A lot of people would be afraid to have their name attached to anything that could be considered a bailout. A lot of legislators are afraid of it.”