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"Fed up" Detroit parents: Most support teacher sickouts, ready for "action"

Jan 14, 2016

Detroit parents and grandparents at the Detroit Parent Network community meeting.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents say they’re angry about conditions in the city’s schools — and ready to do something about it.

Dozens of them packed a meeting led by the Detroit Parent Network Thursday night.

The event was billed as a community conversation about school concerns.

But many there — disgusted by overcrowding, crumbling buildings, and teacher shortages throughout DPS — were ready to organize and make their voices heard as the district’s future is debated in Lansing.

Annette Kinsey says Detroiters deserve a voice in the future of their school system, one that’s been run by state-appointed emergency managers for nearly seven years.

“And it just hasn’t worked,” Kinsey said. “I think parents are fed up, and people are ready to move to action.”

A large majority said they supported DPS teachers’ recent “sickout” protests.

They believe the sickouts have drawn much-needed attention to the schools’ plight, and want to keep up that momentum.

Dana Dacres is a mother of four children at Burton International School.

She says it’s time for parents to take up the same fight, and make city and state officials hear their voices.

“Help them understand, make them understand that there is a serious problem here,” Dacres said. “It’s just not the teachers complaining and whining. The parents see that there is a legitimate problem.”

But Detroit parents’ feelings are unlikely to sway the Republican state lawmakers, who hold the district’s fate.

DPS needs what amounts to a state bailout package to avoid bankruptcy before the end of the school year.

Bills introduced in Lansing Thursday sketch out a bankruptcy-style restructuring plan, though many details are still unclear. They would restore a delayed and limited measure of local control to Detroit schools.