Detroit teacher ‘sick out’ highlights district’s worst-in-nation student performance

Victor Skinner,

DETROIT – Detroit Federation of Teachers members ditched their students to protest about pay today, despite data that shows they’ve been ineffective at improving the district’s worst-in-the-nation student academic performance.

“There’s a basic agreement in America: When you put in a day’s work, you’ll receive a day’s pay,” DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey said in a statement announcing a teacher sick out today to protest the district’s chronic budget problems. “Unfortunately, by refusing to guarantee that we will be paid for our work, (Detroit Public Schools) is effectively locking our members out of the classrooms.”

DPSstudentperformance_small Detroit teacher 'sick out' highlights district's worst-in-nation student performance

Bailey’s brash comments beg the question: What are Detroit and Michigan taxpayers getting for their money?

The answer is simple: Failure.

The DPS district profile for the 2015-16 school year posted online shows that while the graduation rate has increased slightly in the last three years, student academic performance in general remains a national embarrassment for virtually all grade levels.

The combined results for students of all grades tested last spring shows a mere 2.9 percent met basic proficiency standards for science, 7.9 percent reached that threshold for math, 8.1 were proficient in Social Studies, and 14.6 met standards in English Language Arts.

The dismal student performance was echoed during the National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment, which ranks fourth- and eighth-graders in 21 urban school districts across the country based on their performance on a standardized test.

Detroit students finished dead last, and in some subjects they scored worse than the last time the test was administered in 2013. The last place performance in 2015 marks the fourth consecutive time the district’s students ranked at the bottom, following last-in-the-nation performances in 2009, 2011 and 2013, The Detroit News reported in October.

“In math, 36 percent of DPS fourth-graders achieved at or above basic level, up from 35 percent in 2013, while 27 percent of eighth-graders tested at or above basic, up from 24 percent,” according to the news site.

“In reading, 27 percent of Detroit fourth-graders tested at or above basic, down from 30 percent in 2013, while 44 percent of eighth-graders were at or above basic, down from 46 percent.”

DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski told the news site in October that officials consider the embarrassing scores an improvement.

“While these scores clearly indicate that Detroit Public Schools still has much work to do to improve student outcomes in reading and math, we are pleased that the scores appear to be leveling out,” she said. “Improvements in student achievement are at the center of the restructuring that is currently underway in DPS and is guiding all of the district’s actions and decisions.”

Michigan lawmakers are currently considering a $715 million plan to bail out the chronically broke school district, and DPS officials are concerned that repeated teacher “sick out” days could rub the Republican-controlled legislature the wrong way.

DPS-backed “educators,” meanwhile, seem more concerned about the district’s money problems and the impact on their checks than educating the students they were hired to teach.