Teacher from Detroit Public Schools Get shafted once again

Here we go again. Detroit educators get the shaft once more. Check out this Detroit Free Press article and you’ll see why teachers and citizens alike are pissed about what’s happening.

Long short of the article is this: Detroit Public Schools has run out of cash and will be unable to pay their teachers after June 30th. Not only that but there aren’t enough funds to hold Summer School so the students who are in desperate need of this service are going to have to suffer. It’s a trainwreck for all the innocent people involved.

We all know about countless issues facing Detroit Public Schools today: corruption, embezzlement, massive deficit, decrepit buildings, Emergency Managers (ha, creating more emergencies instead of fixing the ones we are facing), a governor who isn’t doing great governing, and this is the short list. While there is no fix-it-all for the ridiculous amount of problems facing Detroit and its educational system, attempting to balance the budget should not continue to fall upon the teachers of Detroit Public Schools.

Teachers wages in DPS have continued to descend in such a downward spiral that many of its staff have left for other districts, found work in other fields or are simply stuck in what is now a job that can not make their financial ends meet. Essentially, they are expected to and have begun working for free. If you do the math, it’s a fact.

As of April 26, 2016, the median salary for an educator in the Detroit Public School District, according to Salary.com, is a little over $53,000 a year. That’s barely enough to get by, especially when that number keeps plummeting due to ‘cuts’, and decreases in what was once excellent insurance…one of the ex-fringe benefits of going into teaching.

A DPS teacher friend of mine just shared this on her Facebook page:

“I am a teacher.
I elected to spread my pay. That means my salary is spread over 26 pays, allowing me to get paid in the summer months. During that time, the wages I get are for work I ALREADY performed.

DPS has been under the state’s control and management for YEARS now. Under this control, the debt has risen to astronomical levels. Now the state legislators are debating whether or not to pay back the debt that happened under their watch. They are hesitant because of the mismanagement that occurred – again while THEY were in control.

I have been informed that as of now, due to lack of funds, I will not receive the compensation due to me after June. That is 5 paychecks over 8 weeks that I will be missing. This is not money I can afford to lose, especially after loaning the district $9,000 and taking a 10% pay cut that has lasted years.

We are people serving children.
We teach in a place many are unwilling to.
We have names. We have faces.
We have financial obligations. We have families.
We matter.”

When something goes wrong in a school district, the teachers are the hardest hit. Why is that? Why is it okay to balance a budget using somebody else’s paycheck? Money that is relied upon to support families, to pay bills and to have the basic human necessities.

Another crucial and ugly fact is that teachers get no benefit for moving to other districts.  All of their experience and expertise will not even get them a small increase in pay.  In fact, when teachers move to other districts, they have to start all over again at the bottom of the pay scale! But if, say, a doctor goes to a different hospital, they get all sorts of incentives? What makes a teacher any less than any other profession? Teachers should be treated like gods, same as the way many doctors expect us to treat them. As another friend said, maybe all careers should be treated like teachers and be on a pay step program.

Basically, teachers higher than pay step 1 are stuck and at the whim of their district and whoever is heading it.

Yet, without teachers, most people wouldn’t be where they are today. THAT is a FACT.

Detroit Public Schools has, for too many years, been in a holding pattern of piggishness. For example, Proposal S in 1994 that the residents of Detroit will be paying back until 2040. And, since 1999, the bond money has not been used to improve schools. Where did all the money go? Or, is that a rhetorical question? In 2009, a second bond, the Proposal S Referendum, in the amount of $500.5 million was voted for, after the loss of half its student body and many complete school closures. There have been a few improvements made to a handful of schools but the amount used does not compute with the amount of the bond. There are some fat wallets wandering around, on behalf of and to the detriment of, the residents of Detroit and school teachers.

With the immense amount of  bond money, there is no reason whatsoever that the Detroit Public School’s should be in the position where they are now taking from the pockets of the teachers who have dedicated their life to educating our children. If the bond money had been used for its original purpose, schools would be in good working order. If schools were in good working order, students would fill those classrooms. If those classrooms were filled…well, you get the picture. It’s the typical “If you give a mouse a cookie” scenario.

There wouldn’t be such an excessive mess that is now facing the Detroit Public School system. Which, in turn, wouldn’t be affecting those names and faces that are the teachers.

I have no answers. I’m just the wife of a teacher who worked for DPS for several years and is now in the employment of  another district who has since slashed his pay and benefits severely due to similar circumstances as DPS.

It’s no wonder there are so few people going into education in colleges these days. But, I do wonder what the state of education will be like for my children’s future children.

It’s a scary thought.