In the midst of a national debate about how schools can safely reopen in the fall, 2,000 Detroit children were expected to walk into classes Monday to do what they haven’t been able to do since mid-March — learn in person.
But the first day of summer school in the Detroit school district Monday was not without disruption. Dozens of protesters citing health concerns stood outside one of the district’s bus terminals beginning at 5 a.m., blocking buses from leaving to pick up students to take them to school. The protesters included teachers.
Their actions meant students who needed to arrive by bus to a handful of the 23 summer school sites likely missed the first day of classes, which began at 8:30 a.m. At one school — Greenfield Union Elementary-Middle School — a small trickle of students had arrived by the start of classes.
Overall, just a few more than 500 students made it to in-person classes on the first day, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said Monday afternoon.
Schools affected included Munger, Mackenzie, Bennett, and Earhart, which were offering summer school classes. The Charles Drew Transition Center and Jerry L. White Center, which provide extended school year services for students with special education needs, were also affected.
“Unfortunately, our medically fragile students that get direct pickup were most affected by the protest,” Vitti said.
The protests didn’t impact students whose buses left from other terminals…
About 4,000 children are enrolled for the summer program. Half of them opted to attend classes in school buildings, while the rest will take classes online. More than 300 teachers signed up for the 170 positions.
The district may be one of the largest in the nation to attempt to bring students back to school buildings, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered closed in March to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. In New York and Chicago, for instance, summer school is happening online only. Locally, some smaller districts, including Novi Community Schools, have already begun in-person summer classes.
Last week, teachers affiliated with the By Any Means Necessary group held protests hoping to stop the start of the summer classes.
Benjamin Royal, an organizer with the group, said the bus terminal protests were about protecting schools and communities from the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s a deadly pandemic. People of all ages have died. Children have died,” he said.
He and other protesters said it doesn’t matter to them that parents chose the in-person option…
“Nobody should have the right to voluntarily put their child in a dangerous situation,” Royal said.
Royal is a teacher in the district. He’s also a member of the executive board for the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Terrence Martin, the union president, told members in a social media post Sunday night that if those teaching summer school find no personal protection equipment in their schools, “Staff are to exit the buildings immediately.”
So the school district decided to hold summer school classes for at-risk students and they had twice as many teachers sign up to teach than they needed to fill open positions.
The political radical in charge of the teachers union formed a group to physically block special needs kids from getting to the school buildings. These are public school teachers trying to bully families from getting access to classrooms that their taxpayer dollars have already paid for. The teachers then go on to claim that the parents should not have a right to make the decision what happens to their kid. They imply that the parents are abusing their children by sending them to school in person.
At this point, I truly do not care if they ever re-open public schools. Go ahead and keep them shut down forever. If these teachers are so profoundly worried about their personal safety that they feel little kids are a meaningful threat to their life, turn them loose and let them find another job doing something that they perceive is less threatening.
Create an immediate voucher program for parents to go procure the education their children require not to fall behind academically. Kids’ education should not be sacrificed to keep these lunatics on the employment rolls.
I cannot imagine watching that scene and thinking that it would be safe to go forward leaving your kid with these people.