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Detroit Judge to Rule on Protest of Appalling School Conditions

Photograph by Getty Images

Some 88 Detroit public schools closed last week and tens of thousands of kids were forced to stay home after teachers at those schools called in sick—a planned protest of the conditions of their schools' programs and facilities.

Today, two schools closed after around 75 teachers called in sick so that they can protest in front of the courthouse, where a judge will rule on whether the "sickout" action is within the law. In Michigan, official teacher strikes are illegal.

Meanwhile, the sick outs attracted national attention as major news coverage of the reasons for the sickout, well, sicked-out the rest of the country. Reports showed fungus and mushrooms growing out of walls, scalding steam coming up through the playground and descriptions of a stench so bad it made a reporter gag among other unbelievable conditions.

The matter came before a judge after Detroit's school district filed a suit against the teachers last week in an effort to compel them to return to the classroom and stop calling in sick. Teachers says the district and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder should be put on trial over pay, class sizes, building conditions and the governor's plan to overhaul the district.

DPS has lost considerable enrollment. Many blame the high number of independent, publicly funded charter schools. Snyder's plan for schools improvement includes closing any charter schools an appointed commission deems inadequate or underperforming. Critics question whether Snyder has children's best interest in mind, considering his administration's role in the Flint, Mich., water crisis.

According to the Associated Press, Republican lawmakers in Michigan have introduced legislation that would classify work stoppages (such as the sickouts) as illegal strikes and also allow the state superintendent to revoke teaching certificates of teachers who participate.

Meanwhile, there has been no official response from the governor about the smells, mold and other effects of the crumbling infrastructure of the city's poorest schools.

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