When the city announced changes to the school discipline code that would effectively eliminate suspensions for students in kindergarten through second grade, many advocates praised the decision.
But in language presented at a hearing Monday, officials suggested that in cases involving guns or other forms of “substantial” disruption, the city’s youngest students could still be suspended. Some advocates objected to the caveats, arguing that the city was backing away from its earlier promise.
So what’s the process for hammering out the final language? And when will the new discipline code take effect?
While there are no additional hearings scheduled, members of the public can still weigh in by emailing the education department their comments through August 22. In the weeks following, an education department spokesperson said, the city will review the public comments and work with teachers, parents and other community members before releasing a final version of the new policy.
The new discipline code will take effect this school year, and will likely be implemented sometime this fall, the spokesperson said.
It’s unclear whether the discipline code will include an outright suspension ban, especially given pushback from groups including the city’s principal and teacher unions. The city has also said that the language released Monday is in accordance with state law. (A spokesperson would not comment on whether the city believed some exceptions to the suspension ban are required by law.)
Revising the code is “part of an ongoing process that includes continued conversations with parents, students, partners, school staff and community members as we finalize the changes,” education department spokesperson Toya Holness wrote in an email to Chalkbeat. “We remain committed to ending suspensions for students in kindergarten through second grade and putting more age-appropriate discipline practices in place.”
Week in review: A raise for some Detroit teachers — no pay for others
PHOTO: John/Creative Commons
The situation at the Detroit charter school where teachers won’t get their summer paychecks is a reminder about the precarious finances that can affect both district and charter schools.
Charters don’t typically have historic debts like those that nearly drove the Detroit Public Schools into bankruptcy last year, but Michigan does not provide charter schools with money to buy or renovate their buildings. Unlike districts, charter schools can’t ask voters to approve tax hikes to pay for improvements. And when charter schools borrow money, that debt isn’t supported by the state or backed up by district taxpayers the way some school district debt is. So when a charter school shuts down and money stops coming from the state, there could be many people — that includes teachers — who simply won’t get paid.
Scroll down for more on that story as well as updates on the just-ratified teachers contract and the rest of the week’s Detroit schools news.
— Erin Einhorn, Chalkbeat Senior Detroit Correspondent
Paying teachers — or not
- Detroit teachers who mailed in ballots this month have narrowly approved a new three-year contract in a vote of 515 to 474. “We certainly deserve more,” the union’s president said in a statement “but the package offers us the opportunity to build our local, move our school district forward and place students first.”
- The new contract, which will now go to a state financial oversight board for approval, would raise teacher salaries by more than 7 percent over the next two years but would not increase wages enough to bring them back to where they were before pay cuts a few years ago.
- Meanwhile, teachers at the shuttered Michigan Technical Academy charter school — which had a lower school in northwest Detroit and a middle school in Redford — were furious to learn that they won’t get money they’re owed for work they did during the school year. The money will instead go to pay off debts. More than 30 teachers are collectively owed more than $150,000.
- The school is the second Detroit-area charter school to run into financial problems affecting teacher pay. Educators at the Taylor International Academy in Southfield say they haven’t been paid since their school shut down abruptly in early June. Taylor and MTA also have this in common: Both schools had their charter authorized by Central Michigan University.
- Meanwhile, across the state, Michigan’s average teacher salary has dropped for the fifth year in a row, and many districts say they have trouble retaining high quality teachers because of low pay. The finding is included in a six-story series on state teacher pay from Michigan Radio that already has detractors.
- An investor service says the controversial changes Michigan made to its pension system are a “positive” for the state.
- A University of Michigan economist says substitute teachers are paid less in Michigan than other states — part of why the state has a sub shortage.
- A suburban district got 952 applicants for a single teaching job but the district’s superintendent says that doesn’t mean there’s not a teacher shortage.
On the home front
Across the state
- A judge has blocked the state from spending public money on private schools. A Catholic leader explains why he thinks private schools should be entitled to the money.
- MIchigan has dumped its school ranking system in favor of a dashboard.
- An advocate who wants schools to face tougher consequences for poor performance slammed Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent school reform efforts. “Parents are tougher on their kids when they don’t eat their vegetables than Detroit’s turnaround plan is with its hometown failure factories,” he wrote.
- Many of the hurdles that make it difficult to provide enough early education in Detroit also exist in rural Michigan communities.
- A New York writer says Betsy DeVos might be powerful and influential in Michigan but in Washington without her checkbook, she’s “like a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”
In other news
money money money
New York City teachers get news they’ve been waiting for: how much money they’ll receive for classroom supplies
New York City teachers will each get $250 this year to spend on classroom supplies — more than they’ve ever gotten through the city’s reimbursement program before.
The city’s 2017-18 budget dramatically ramped up spending for the Teacher’s Choice program, a 30-year-old collaboration between the City Council and the United Federation of Teachers. More than $20 million will go the program this year.
On Thursday, the union texted its members with details about how the city’s budget will translate to their wallets. General education teachers will each get $250, reimbursable against expenses. (Educators who work in other areas get slightly less; teachers tell the union they spend far more.)
Money given to New York City teachers for classroom supplies, measured in dozens of tissue boxes.
The increase means that Teacher’s Choice has more than recovered from the recent recession. In 2007, teachers were getting $220 a year, but that number fell until the union and Council zeroed out the program in 2011 as part of a budget deal aimed at avoiding teacher layoffs. (Some teachers turned to crowdsourcing to buy classroom supplies.) As the city’s financial picture has improved, and as the union lobbied heavily for the program, the amount inched upwards annually.
“With this increase in funding for Teacher’s Choice, the City Council has sent us a clear message that they believe in our educators and support the work they are doing,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “At a time where we see public education under attack on a national level, Council members came through for our teachers and our students.”