Michigan legislature approves Detroit school bailout: What's next? (+video)
Michigan lawmakers passed a bill that will keep Detroit's public schools from going bankrupt, but critics say it doesn't do as much as it could have for the public schools.
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After hours of emotional debate, Michigan’s Legislature approved a $617-million rescue plan for the Detroit Public Schools late last night. Yet, many say, there still is much to be done for the state's public schools.
The school rescue bill passed with the narrowest possible margin in both the House of Representatives and the state Senate, with votes of 55-54 and 19-18 respectively. The bill will now go to Michigan governor Rick Snyder for approval.
Although some say that the legislature could have done more to deal with Detroit’s structural problems, others say the bill accomplishes the most important task: eliminating Detroit’s debt.
“We’re disappointed in many aspects,” Terrence Martin, the executive vice president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers told The Christian Science Monitor, “but we remain steadfast, and we are treading forward. The good thing is that we have a school district, and that we have a school board.”
Detroit’s public school system has struggled for years, plagued by declining enrollment and poor facilities.
In January this year, Detroit’s teachers (forbidden from striking) engaged in "sickouts"to protest inadequate facilities and educational materials. More than 50 of Detroit’s schools, which serve approximately 46,000 students, were closed because of the protests.
Months later, in early May, educators again took part in sickouts to protest the city’s admission that, despite a short-term bailout, itdid not have the funds required to pay teacher salaries though the summer months.
If Governor Snyder approves the legislation, which he is expected to do, the Detroit Public Schools will receive $617 million to settle existing debt. Although many are calling this a bailout, Mr. Martin told the Monitor that as the existing debt was run up by the state of Michigan while it had control Michigan legislature approves Detroit school bailout: What's next? (+video) - CSMonitor.com: