Happening Today: Live Q&A with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Register to attend.
Teaching Profession

Detroit Schools Open Following 10-Day Teachers’ Strike

By Ann Bradley — September 15, 1999 3 min read

Schools opened in Detroit last week after members of the teachers’ union approved a tentative agreement ending a 10-day strike.

More than 8,000 teachers crowded into the city’s convention center Sept. 8 to approve the deal, which allowed schools to open the next day for the district’s 177,000 students.

The three-year settlement, which union members still must ratify, includes 2 percent salary increases for teachers still progressing through the salary schedule.

Veteran teachers who have reached the maximum pay will receive larger raises, about 4 percent, to make their salaries more competitive with those in surrounding districts.

Reducing Class Sizes

The district also promised to reduce class sizes, a make- or-break issue for many teachers frustrated by years of overcrowded elementary classrooms. During the 2000-01 school year, the district will reduce class sizes to 17 students in 22 schools, with similar reductions in 22 more schools the following year.

John Elliott, the president of the 11,500-member Detroit Federation of Teachers, said he was relieved to see the strike end and pledged to work with the district’s new administration on reform initiatives.

“This has been a tense time,” said Mr. Elliott, whose members voted to strike Aug. 30 against his advice. “As long as I have something to say about it, this strike was not about reform. It was an attempt [by district officials] to weaken and reduce the effectiveness of the teachers’ union.”

‘Maintain Momentum’

David Adamany, the interim chief executive officer of the Detroit schools, said in a statement that the return to work would allow the system to “maintain the momentum that was developed for improvements in the school system.”

The strike came as a blow to the school board installed last spring by Mayor Dennis Archer, who was given control of the city’s schools by the Michigan legislature.

The new school leaders had sought to institute some type of merit pay for teachers, a proposal they were forced to drop in negotiations.

Failing schools can be closed, however, with safeguards for teachers’ jobs and transfer rights, according to terms of the new accord.

Sick-Day Restrictions

In addition, the district won its battle to put restrictions on the use of sick days, with a policy that will withhold raises from teachers who miss more than eight days of work, except in certain circumstances.

Veteran teachers who have reached the top of the pay scale will be able to earn more money with the addition of four $3,000 “steps” on the salary schedule.

But experienced teachers will have to meet performance criteria to advance, including satisfactory ratings, participation in professional-development activities, compliance with attendance criteria, attainment of credits toward advanced degrees in their specialties, and certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The agreement also requires new hires, and teachers who have just begun further coursework, to take classes in their areas of teaching expertise in order to get salary credit.

The strike took Mr. Elliott, who has run the union for 18 years, by surprise when just 3,000 of the union’s approximately 8,000 teacher members showed up during the last week of August to vote on a 10-day contract extension.

Many of those who did turn out to vote, Mr. Elliott said, were his political opponents and “internal professional agitators” who generated spontaneous support for a strike.

“We’re still willing to work with the school administration on reform initiatives,” he added.

In other parts of the nation, teachers were on strike in one Rhode Island and five Pennsylvania districts, according to the National Education Association.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession 4 Ways Districts Are Giving Teachers More Flexibility in Their Jobs
After a year-plus of pandemic schooling, some experts are seeing momentum for district leaders to reimagine what teaching can look like.
11 min read
Teacher working at home in front of camera.
Getty
Teaching Profession Why Teachers Leave—or Don't: A Look at the Numbers
New EdWeek survey results reveal why teachers consider leaving the profession, and how the pandemic has changed their decisionmaking.
6 min read
v40 32 Teacher Retention INTRO DATA
Stephanie Shafer for Education Week<br/>
Teaching Profession We Asked Teachers How They Want to Be Appreciated. Here's What They Said
All they need is respect, independence, a break, and a heartfelt word of thanks after a difficult year.
3 min read
Image shows a teacher in a classroom.
skynesher/E+
Teaching Profession New Teaching Jobs May Emerge With Continued Demand for Virtual Learning
As school districts plan for online learning to continue beyond the pandemic, they'll need teachers to staff those virtual classrooms.
4 min read