Detroit teachers protest working conditions

The Detroit Free Press reported on Jan. 11 that teachers in Detroit have staged a sickout that closed some 64 schools demanding “that the district address what they’ve described as deplorable teaching conditions.” In response to the action, Mayor Mike Duggan vowed to “tour schools Tuesday to assess the condition of the buildings” and state schools chief Brian Whiston “called for health and safety issues in the district to be immediately addressed.”

Two new appointees to watch

Two interim school leaders took office as we began the new year.

President Obama appointed John King acting U.S. Secretary of Education in the wake of Arne Duncan’s resignation. King served as state commissioner of the New York schools. He has a Ph.D. in education and a law degree. However, King has not endeared himself to New York state’s teachers’ unions. He pushed reform on them, including forcing into place a new accountability system and he tried to collect student data for use by software marketers.  The state’s courts have already stepped in. Congress will have to approve his appointment if he is to remain in the job after Obama leaves office.

As a search firm begins to seek a new Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lonny Rivera steps into the interim role. Rivera served as a deputy state superintendent, as superintendent of the nearby Oregon City Schools, a principal in Toledo, and as chief of staff for the Toledo Public Schools. Rivera temporarily succeeds Richard Ross, who resigned after revelations of state cheating on charter school success reports. He has said he will not seek permanent appointment.




Chicago board settles suit

The Associated Press reported on Dec. 17 that the Justice Department said on Wednesday that “it has settled a lawsuit it filed against the Chicago Board of Education alleging pregnancy discrimination against teachers.” The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Chicago last December, “said the board had a pattern of discrimination against pregnant teachers at Scammon Elementary School that resulted in the women receiving lower performance evaluations and threats of termination.” Under the terms of the settlement, “the board must pay $280,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to eight women and change its personnel policies to guard against discrimination based on gender and pregnancy,” and it “also must establish training requirements that reinforce a commitment to a workplace without gender-based discrimination.”