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DPS Employees Protest Contract Changes

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DETROIT (WWJ) - Teachers and staff from Detroit Public Schools marched and picketed in front of the Fisher Building in Detroit, unhappy about the changes to their contract, such as 10 percent pay cuts and upping their health benefit contributions.

Protesters gathered at the Detroit Federation of Teachers on Tuesday carrying signs, some of them reading “Hands off my benefits,” “We feed your kids but don’t make enough to feed our own”, and, “We asked for nothing and they said ‘That’s too much.’”

They proceeded towards the Fisher Building, sending a message to DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts, whose office is inside.  Roberts rescinded teacher layoffs in July this year.

Veteran art teacher Lila Cadage said teachers routinely spend their own money on classroom supplies and other things.

“I’ve been working for about 18 years,” said Cadage. “I spend $2,000 to $3,000 per year so I’ve put over $40,000 into the DPS.  And they’re saying we don’t care?”

High school English teacher Keisha Smith is also worried about class sizes since not all laid-off teachers are being called back.

“It’s going to mean we have overcrowded classes,” said Smith. “We won’t have enough support in our schools. It’s just going to be chaos like every year.”

Smith said that at the close of the last school year, class sizes were at about 35 students per teacher, which is too high, but she fears it could rise to about 45 students.

One Detroit teacher thinks that Governor Rick Snyder should come to Detroit and spend a day doing his job.  He said, then, the governor might truly understand the challenges that Detroit teachers face.

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