Protest against DPS state control held on eve of count day

- It is the eve of count day for schools and Detroit teachers and community leaders are rallying for big improvements and more control.  Meanwhile, it looks like Gov. Rick Snyder is making some plans in Lansing to help the struggling district.

They were more than 50 deep - teachers, parents, even students at an interfaith rally at Cass Park as the threat of bankruptcy looms over Detroit Public Schools.

"Our pay is frozen," said Marnina Falk. "Our students are in class rooms without updated books."

That's not the half of it

Conditions inside some schools are horrible from mold, to rodents and classroom temperatures fluctuating from extreme to another.

"I have an autistic daughter so any kind of changes or any kind of environment that's uncomfortable for her, it's going to affect her," said Shanay Watson-Whittaker, a Renaissance High School parent.

As DPS nears the financial cliff lawmakers are working on a rescue plan to restructure the district and  get rid of its operating debt.

"What is in the bill now and what is actually in writing and is passed is two different things," said Ivy Bailey, the interim president of the Detroit Teachers Union.

Bailey, the interim president of the Detroit Teachers Union, testified in a committee hearing Tuesday.

"If we could go back to pre-concession days plus an increase for teachers then I think we'll be okay,' said Bailey. "I think there is more to it than that. There has to be money to sustain DPS over next 10-15 years.

Faith leaders at the rally echoed another major concern regarding the revamping of DPS, the need for local control.

"The actual state of affairs in Detroit schools have gotten worse under emergency management," said Dawud Walid of Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"All of those issues, those dots have to be connected - Flint, Benton Harbor, Detroit," said Rev. Edwin Roe of Central Methodist Church who took it a step further. "It's time that white people start talking about white racism and it's time we stood with people who are fighting the result of white racism."

Although Emergency Manager  Darnell Early is on his way out and Republican lawmakers are ready to ax the EAA, DPS teachers and parents still have a number of concerns and one can only wonder if they'll try to get their point across with mass absences on Wednesday - count day.

"I talked with teachers and we're here for the students," Bailey said. "There is no union-sanctioned sickout tomorrow. We're not planning on one. But like I always said, who knows what's going to happen."

Some parents may keep their kids home tomorrow.

DPS released a statement which said in part:

"In order to attain our goal of having a school system that is not only academically competitive, but also financially sustainable, it is critical that students attend school all day, every day. When they are not in class, it hurts their potential for academic success and exacerbates the serious financial challenges already facing the District."

-- Michelle Zdrodowski, Executive Director of Communications 

Snyder is planning in Wednesday’s budget a proposal of $72 million over the next 10 years to tackle the DPS operating debt and startup for the new DPS. Snyder is also expected to ask for $50 million to help the district get through the school year. It could run out of money in November.

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