Union: Teacher sick-out tied to Obama's Detroit trip

Eighty-eight of Detroit's 97 public schools were closed Wednesday when teachers participated in a districtwide "sickout" to push for demands related to school conditions and their rights as employees.

The protests also coincide with a hearing for ousted teachers union head Steve Conn, and those conducting it must have felt a chill wind blowing in from all the activity outside.

More than 60 schools were closed January 11 due to teacher absences.

However, these negotiations fail to solve larger questions of underfunding that have yielded the poor conditions afflicting some Detroit schools. Almost 45,000 students had to stay home.

"As the city celebrates this "ultra-luxury" automobile event, Detroit's public schools are in a state of crisis", wrote the union on its website.

In place of the teacher effectiveness coaches, the district will provide funding to high-needs schools to hire 49 new teacher-leaders or instructional deans, who will take over the role of coaching teachers. In a video accompanying their petition, the teachers' group reveals some of the worst of these circumstances in Charles L. Spain Elementary and Middle Schools.

President Obama headed to Detroit on Wednesday to visit the North American International Auto Show and applaud the progress the auto industry has made since the global financial crisis, when major automakers teetered on the edge of bankruptcy.

The school system is struggling with debt of $515m.

The teachers say they are protesting classroom overcrowding, mold in classrooms, collapsing ceilings and dilapidated buildings, none of which was addressed in Snyder's speech Tuesday night, though the governor said that "Detroit schools are in need of a transformational change". State-appointed emergency managers have overseen both the Flint water system and DPS in recent years.

Teachers are unhappy that the debt-ridden district has allowed conditions inside their classrooms to deteriorate.

Todd McInturf/AP Protesters converged Wednesday outside a Detroit convention center set to host a visit by President Obama. More than 20 additional schools closed Wednesday, bringing the total to more than 80 schools.

Earley, the Detroit schools emergency manager, was emergency manager in Flint when the city switched its source in 2014. Earley has said he was not responsible for the decision - only with implementing it after it was approved.

"(The) time to act is now", he told lawmakers. "Emergency Management is not working", she said.

Michigan Senate Democrats, in a tweet after Snyder's address, took a swipe: "Crumbling #DPS schools are a direct result of damage that can be done by unelected emergency managers".

Mayor Mike Duggan said he plans to speak with Snyder about the "deeply disturbing" images he saw during his tour of the DPS schools last week.