On Wednesday, hundreds of Detroit public school teachers called in sick and refused to go to work—citing "deplorable" conditions in the city's crumbling school system. Their actions forced officials to close 90 percent of the school district: classes were cancelled for about 46,000 kids.
As The Daily Signal's Lindsey Burke points out, just 4,000 of those kids are proficient in reading, and their graduation rate sits at a pathetic 7 out of 10. And while the teachers may be right that their schools are in terrible shape, inadequate funding simply isn't the problem: the district spends roughly $16,000 per pupil each year.
The teachers have apparently returned to work today, despite promises from one union leader to continue the strike, according to CNN:
An attorney for the Detroit Public Schools has asked a judge to issue a restraining order and preliminary injunction to force teachers to stop sickouts and return to work, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
The motion names the Detroit Federation of Teachers, interim teachers union president Ivy Bailey and 23 Detroit Public Schools teachers.
"DPS has requested the court's intervention in addressing the ongoing teacher sickouts that are plaguing the district," Michelle Zdrodowski, the spokeswoman for the Detroit Public Schools said in a statement.
The teachers union responded to the filing, noting "Detroit deserves better."
"It is regrettable that the Detroit Public Schools seeks to punish those who speak out about the deplorable conditions in our schools," Bailey said. "It would be so much more productive to actually do something to fix Detroit schools rather than file restraining orders against those who expose the miserable conditions."
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has vowed a new wave of reforms, consolidations, and new management strategies to fix the school district. But he's just really rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Everyone knows that Detroit Public Schools are broken beyond hope because the government can't run inner city schools. Bureaucrats are destined to fail, no matter how hard they try.
There's a better way: take the money that would have been used to patch holes on a sinking ship and give it back to the kids so that they can buy an actually worthwhile education. Let families decide which schools best serve their children's needs, instead of their zip codes.
As it so happens, this week is National School Choice Week, and Reason is hosting events around the country to celebrate the idea that kids deserve choice and control over their own futures. Tonight's event is in Washington, D.C. at Capitale. Go here for more information.