The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Detroit teacher suspended for leading a fight against a degenerating school system

Oct 7, 2002

In the middle of September, Steve Conn, a teacher in the Detroit public schools, was given a three-day suspension, charging him with "excessive absenteeism" for calling in sick last February 20. And yet, during the summer, Conn had been given a $150 bonus, rewarding him for "good attendance" for the whole year.

Did it take the board seven months to take his temperature? Or was it just a bureaucratic mix-up, in a system well known for its heavy-handed bureaucracy?

Actually, it was neither. Conn was disciplined because he, along with other people, had fought last year against the Detroit School Board and its "CEO" David Burnley over the board's reduction of supplies, books and staff in the schools. Conn had helped organize demonstrations and a Day of Protest for Quality Schools last February 20 – the day for which he was disciplined.

Maybe the Board figured it would wait until things cooled down a little before disciplining Conn.

Maybe they figured wrong, since Conn's discipline provoked a rally outside the high school where he teaches.

That's what should happen when a militant is disciplined.