Several hundred demonstrators chanted “enough is enough” at a state Capitol rally opposing Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed reorganization of the Detroit Public Schools.
The rally was organized by the teachers union, which brought in members by the busload to protest and to lobby state lawmakers.
“I’m here to defend public education in Detroit, to stop the governor from shutting down Detroit public schools, and to restore democratic rights to the people of Detroit with an elected school board immediately,” said Nicole Conaway, an organizer with the Detroit Federation of Teachers.
The governor’s plan includes creating a new school district, that would be run by a chief with sweeping authority and an appointed – not elected – school board. It would be funded entirely by the state. The current school district would exist solely to collect local taxes and pay off a mountain of debt.
High school teacher Chejuana Stewart says six years of state control over the Detroit schools hasn’t worked. And she doesn’t think more state oversight is the answer.
“We’re here understanding that there are some budget cuts, but we are constantly being oppressed. Our personal quality of life is being effected,” she says. “Many teachers are making less now than they were making five or six years ago, and it’s just getting to be too much.”
The governor’s plan could be sent to the Legislature as soon as this week, although it’s already drawing opposition from Republicans, who don’t like the cost, and Democrats, who want to see control restored to an elected school board.