The Spark

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

Layoff threat in the Detroit Public Schools

Oct 30, 2006

The Detroit Public Schools administration and the Detroit media have started a new campaign against the Detroit teachers who went on strike last September.

The district sent out layoff notices to 430 teachers and counselors last week. The Detroit news media was quick to jump on the case, blaming the layoffs on the two-week strike, which, they said, added to a drop in student enrollment in the district this year.

There are a number of holes in this story.

The biggest one is that this layoff notice happens EVERY SEMESTER. Many teachers with lower seniority are used to receiving layoff notices every six months. Sometimes those notices get cancelled a few weeks later; sometimes the teachers get moved from one position to another, following shifts in student enrollment. It’s business as usual in this large school district.

There’s absolutely nothing new in this new layoff notice, except maybe the number of teachers receiving the layoff notices. But those numbers are clearly pumped up, to send the message that the teachers were wrong to fight.

It’s a cynical game, played by cynical administrators, helped along by a cynical news media.

No doubt the teachers who saw through the district’s earlier games will see through this ploy as well.