Almost every Detroit public school was closed today, the second day of a mass teacher sickout over pay and other issues. Some 45,000 students missed class.
In light of Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes’ declaration that the district will run out of money by June 30 without an influx of cash from the state, it seemed like a good time to speak with Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, who’s been leading the push to get the rescue plan through the state Legislature.
Hansen tells us this latest round of teacher sickouts creates a legislative challenge.
“Trying to make sure that we get enough votes that we pass something is one thing. This creates a challenge to try and get my colleagues in the House to support it,” Hansen says.
But, he assures us that the teachers “are going to get paid, period.”
There does seem to be some divergence between the GOP legislative leadership, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, and rank and file DPS teachers on how to handle the budget crisis.
On the first day of the sickout, Detroit teacher Sarah Jardine described Rhodes’ reform package as “distasteful” and “a very bad idea for public school in Detroit.”
Hansen tells us he’s spent a lot of time talking to folks in Detroit about their concerns, and he understands their frustration.
“It’s not an easy task to try and craft something that balances all of the different groups. And I guess at this time I look at it as, everybody might be just a little bit uncomfortable both sides of the equation, so I think we’re in a pretty decent place,” he says.
All that said, Hansen hopes the Legislature is able to set aside political posturing and work together to help the children of Detroit.
“We have 47,000 kids that need a great education,” he says. “This should not be something that is political. It should not be divisive between the two, we need to work together and get this done.”
Sen. Hansen talks more about the budget problems facing DPS in our conversation below.