State Board of Education President Talks DPS and LGBT Guidelines

Bre’Anna Tinsley/ WDET

Detroit Public Schools teachers and students are back in the classroom after teacher sick-outs closed almost every school in the district for two days on Monday and Tuesday. That’s as state lawmakers debate bills to bail out DPS

State Board of Education President John Austin (D-Ann Arbor) and Bridge Magazine Reporter Chastity Pratt-Dawsey speak about the situation on Detroit Today.

It shouldn’t have come to teachers pointing out horrific conditions… but it took that to get attention in Lansing,” says Austin.

Even if the Legislature approves a DPS bailout, there’s a lot of concern in Detroit about what that end product will look like. 

There’s a fear that when the dust settles, DPS will be set up to fail, will fail,” which could result in an all-charters model for public education, says Pratt-Dawsey.

Meanwhile, the state House has approved a budget that would strip per diem funding for State Board of Education members. Lawmakers hope to punish the board for approving guidelines for how to treat LGBT students.

It’s not only small, petty - it’s pointless” says Austin, saying the funding amounts to about $3000 per year for each member. 

Parents want this,” he continues. ”They want to help these kids be acknowledged and be supported and not be at risk. As we’ve heard, it’s a matter of life and death for these kids… And it’s very dangerous when a legislature is sending messages that say we’re going to legislate the bathroom use, we’re going to tell you what your gender identity is.” 

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio link above.

Image credit: Laura Weber Davis/WDET

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