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Michigan Lawmakers Want To Prevent Future School "Sickouts"

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State lawmakers could consider legislation meant to stop teacher “sickout” protests, like the ones that closed about 60 Detroit schools Monday. 

Republican state lawmakers are looking into legislation meant to prevent teacher “sickouts,” like the ones that closed about 60 Detroit schools on Monday.  Teachers in the state’s largest district say it’s their only way to protest problems in the district – from state control to overcrowded classrooms - because teacher strikes are banned under state law. 

“I couldn’t be any more disappointed,” said state Senator Phil Pavlov (R – St. Clair Twp.), who chairs the Senate Education Committee.  “And I share in the parents’ frustration of the fact that their children are being denied the ability of a good, predictable education.”  Pavlov says he’s looking into bills that would clarify that sickouts count as strikes.  “I think everybody in this state can understand that these are strike conditions. And we really need to step up the enforcement. And if legislation needs to be introduced to further clarify what ‘strike conditions’ means, maybe that’s what we do,” said Pavlov.  “Maybe we get serious about it and start talking about some punitive measures for these teachers not showing up to work.”  

Pavlov first talked about the possible legislation to Michigan Capitol Confidential.  He told Michigan Public Radio that the legislation could include stripping teacher certifications from those who participate in the protests.  And he wants changes to the way current anti-strike laws are enforced.  Right now, every individual teacher has a right to a hearing before he or she faces punishment.  In the case of recent Detroit protests, that could mean hundreds, maybe thousands, of hearings.   

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— Jake Neher is the State Capitol Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at

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