Monday, February 15, 2016

DETROIT - Sick of Inadequate Schools

"Why Detroit’s teachers are ‘sick’ of their inadequate schools"9 PBS NewsHour 2/9/2016


SUMMARY:  Detroit's public schools have been in financial decline for more than a decade as their enrollment plummeted.  Now on the brink of insolvency, the district is confronted with decrepit buildings, a chronic lack of resources and fed up teachers who have staged "sick-outs" in protest of the conditions.  The NewsHour’s April Brown reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Next, to Detroit, and a city school system in turmoil, plagued with decrepit buildings, financial uncertainty, a chronic lack of resources, and now a recent wave of teacher sick-outs.

All of it is fueling a growing anxiety that the system could run out of money in coming months.

April Brown has our report.  It’s part of our Making the Grade series, which airs every Tuesday.

Tonight’s story is in partnership with the American Graduate Initiative.

APRIL BROWN (NewsHour):  The playground at Detroit’s Spain Elementary and Middle School sat empty for weeks.  No children were allowed in because of this.

LAKIA WILSON, Counselor, Spain Elementary-Middle School:  We started to call it a steam geyser, because we really don’t know what it is, if you notice that there is steam coming out there.  There is also some liquid that is spewing out from it.  So it’s very dangerous because it causes the temperatures on the playground to reach 110 degrees.

APRIL BROWN:  Lakia Wilson is the counselor at Spain, a school with a century-long legacy in this Detroit neighborhood.  But for the last two years, she says, steam and water, reportedly from the sewer system, have been seeping out of the concrete in the parking lot and shooting out of this pipe a few feet away.

This is your only playground?

LAKIA WILSON:  This is our own only playground.  We have lost our gym, and we have no playground now.

APRIL BROWN:  What do your kids do for exercise now?

LAKIA WILSON:  Our children are limited to walking the hallway.  They have become like mall walkers.

APRIL BROWN:  The gym she referred to is now locked.  But before that happened, a few cameras captured what is there.

How would you describe what we see inside?

LAKIA WILSON:  A scary movie.  The floor has been removed, the parquet.  And now what you see is just a layer of blackness.  We have been told that it was black mold.  In fact, the city inspector said that it was mold.

APRIL BROWN:  Teachers and staff say they have had building issues for years, including mold, water damage, and broken windows, some of which city inspectors recently cited as code violations.

India Brimberry, the school’s student health aide, is among those concerned these problems are affecting the health of those who work and study here.

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