Editor’s Note: Get moving on teacher strike bills

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

The rhetoric in Lansing regarding the recent spate of teacher strikes in Detroit has been heated, especially from GOP leaders in the Legislature.

After teachers closed down more than 90 percent of Detroit Public Schools one day last month, some lawmakers have decided to fight back against the so-called sickouts.

Teachers have claimed a variety of reasons for their actions, from support of Steve Conn, the ousted Detroit Federation of Teachers president, to raising concerns of building conditions.

As lawmakers consider a package of bills to stabilize the financially failing Detroit school district, however, they are less than impressed with teachers’ protests.

“These selfish actions do nothing to help Michigan children, and they do nothing to help the union members who want state support for their failing school district,” House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, said in a statement.

The Senate late last month introduced bills that would make it easier to discipline striking teachers.

Strikes by public employees are illegal in Michigan, but proving them is a difficult and lengthy process. That means punish- ment is unlikely and has clearly emboldened public school teachers to act out without fear of fines or losing their jobs.

Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, is the primary sponsor on part of the tougher strike penalty legislation. But it’s worth noting that Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, is a co-sponsor, too. Hansen is the sponsor of the DPS bills that would bail out the district.

Hansen likely is aware that these teacher strike changes are necessary to get more lawmakers on board with the DPS package. The Senate should pass the anti-strike bills as soon as possible.