Press Release

AFT Leaders Respond to Detroit Public Schools Drinking Water Problems

For Release: 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Contact:

Marcus Mrowka
202-531-0689 (cell)
mmrowka@aft.org

WASHINGTON—AFT leaders respond to concerns with the drinking water at Detroit public schools.

AFT President Randi Weingarten:

“Every child and every educator should be guaranteed safe drinking water at school. What’s happening in Detroit is the latest illustration of the harm inflicted on children and their teachers through the systemic underinvestment in Detroit public schools by this governor and state leaders. We’re working to get water, coolers and hand sanitizers to the schools, and will continue to do everything we can to work with our locals and the district to ensure our members and the students they serve have safe, reliable drinking water, and that we get the lead and copper out of the water in Detroit schools. We’re glad the superintendent took this action to keep kids and educators safe so that, unlike what happened in Flint, the danger could be addressed before anyone got sick or hurt. But let’s be clear that this wasn’t a random occurrence: It is the direct result of a governor and state leaders who have stripped Detroit public schools of resources and have failed to ensure safe and welcoming public schools for students and educators; the only way to get the investment we desperately need is to elect new leaders in Michigan in November.”

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Ivy Bailey:

“We’re committed to making sure that children and their educators have safe drinking water when school starts next week. While officials of the Detroit Public Schools Community District have taken some steps to address the issue of lead in the water at schools, the community needs assurance that students and staff will be able to function effectively on Tuesday when students arrive. It’s important to note that these issues are a direct result of state-led emergency management.

“We’re glad that Superintendent Vitti has agreed to meet with educators, parents and stakeholders to address how to get safe drinking water to our schools and get lead out of our drinking water. We’re ready to work together to keep our educators, students and community safe.”

Detroit Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President and AFT Vice President Terrence Martin Sr.:

“Our union could not stand idly by. We have been battling these conditions for years. They are not new. This is on the state’s hands. We had to ensure that our students and staff have the supplies they need to perform as best they can under these subpar conditions with a commitment to get water and hand sanitizer to every school. It was the union that stepped up to fill that gap.”

Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees President Stephanie Carreker:

“AFT locals in Detroit and our national AFT union are taking a proactive approach to the water crisis in DPSCD because we do not want be faced with another water crisis liked Flint.” ​

Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals President Donna Jackson:

“We do not want to repeat history and be another Flint or Puerto Rico. We need to get safe drinking water to students and school staff.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.