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Detroit Teachers Fight Back! Teachers Shut Down Schools to Fight for Restoration of Democracy and Defend Public Education

BAMN January 13, 2016 Featured, Fighting Racism, Labor Movement, Public Education, Saving Art & Music, Social Justice, Stop School Closings Comments Off on Detroit Teachers Fight Back! Teachers Shut Down Schools to Fight for Restoration of Democracy and Defend Public Education

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE

The “Snyder flu” sickout has become Detroit’s most dynamic action to defend our civil rights and our public schools. And there is only one remedy that can cure the “Snyder flu”: restore the democratic rights of the people of Detroit, terminate Snyder’s regime of Emergency Manager takeovers, and stop the Snyder Plan from destroying public education.

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No Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

The extraordinary phenomenon—what some are now calling a “rolling strike”—began with just a few schools and one determined organization. It has grown rapidly to become the most important political power based in our city. In this struggle, teachers—with the broad support of students and parents—are standing up against the results of a generation of attacks on the people of Detroit, and especially attacks on our black and Latino communities. The teachers’ actions have shifted the balance of power in the state; teachers, students and the community have seized the initiative for the first time in many years.

As of this moment, our new movement in Detroit, this teacher-student struggle to save our schools, has the potential of achieving a real victory. But, rather than allow that victory, the politicians
and corporate moguls, including the news media—that is, the very people responsible for the attacks on Detroit— are trying to push forward misleaders whose job is to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

We must use our newly won power now to achieve the real victory that is possible. We must keep our eyes on the prize.

Real victory means, first, keeping up and extending our campaign of direct mass action. The misleaders’ main objective is to shut the action down. Typically, misleaders try to replace effective action with some lame, passive, phony action that only makes the powers-that-be feel powerful again by making us look weak and scared. But sometimes misleaders argue for some crazed publicity stunt that may feel cool for a minute but which has no real power to it, and may get a bunch of people arrested for no real purpose.

To limit and end the current struggle, the misleaders will probably attempt to reduce our political demands to the call to get rid of Emergency Manager Earley. This would be a fatal mistake. We must demand an end to the whole tyrannical takeover regime. No more Emergency Managers, at all! Trading one tyrant for another would not be a victory. If we keep fighting, we can get rid of Earley and prevent his replacement by another tyrant, and another and another. We can make a real gain for democratic control over our schools.

Real victory means fighting for the most important demands that can make a real difference, both in our own and in our students’ daily lives and in the balance of power between the people of Detroit and the political and economic powers that have been so determined to break our spirit and destroy the very basis of our communities. Those demands include:

  1. Restore the full, real democratic rights of the people of Detroit now. End all takeovers—over our schools, over our city government, and over the teachers’ union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT). All real power in Detroit needs to be of the people, by the people, for the people.
  2. No more attacks on our public schools. No more school closings, no more charters, no more selling our schools to charter companies. Our children are not for sale!
  3. Reject the Snyder Plan, along with the mountain of lies told to sell it. The Snyder Plan is merely a lightly veiled scheme for the mass closure of our public schools and the mass charterization of
    what is left. Any “new money” will merely be a subsidy for more charter schools and an end to all but a token few real public schools. (See Steve Conn, “Address To the Third Mass Membership Meeting: Defeating the Snyder Plan” May 3, 2015)
  4. End the scapegoating of teachers. Restore teachers’ democratic and union rights. Reduce class sizes dramatically now. Smaller class sizes and the restoration of teachers’ democratic and union rights are now essential emergency measures to start repairing the terrible damage Snyder’s attacks have inflicted on the education of Detroit’s young people.
  5. Restore all the EAA schools to the public school system—no more EAA “Snyder schools.” The Governor’s personal takeover of the EAA schools is a cruel scandal. The “Snyder schools” are
    among the worst in the country. They are an experiment that has failed brutally for our children. The disastrous EAA experiment must be ended.

Sign and circulate the petition to Restore the Democratic Rights of the People of Detroit Now. Contact BAMN for more information.

Detroit Federation of Teachers: Takeover “Membership” Meeting

Thursday, January 14, at 4:30pm
• Fellowship Chapel, 7707 W. Outer Dr., Detroit
We demand the restoration of members’ democratic rights and end to the union takeover!

Appeal Hearing for the reinstatement of the elected DFT President, Steve Conn

Wednesday, January 20, at 9:00am
• AFT Michigan office, 2661 E. Jefferson, Detroit
For all teachers suffering from “Snyder flu,” be sure to seek urgent treatment.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY NOW / BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY (EON/BAMN)

A Caucus Fighting for Civil Rights and Public Education in the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers [2016.01.13]
Contact: (313) 980-7075 or (313) 806-1485
[email protected]  www.bamn.com

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About The Author

BAMN is a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action,integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.

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