By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck Public School teachers had their own version of a “walk-out” on Wednesday morning.
For the past year students across the country have staged peaceful “walk-outs” to protest school shootings.
Instead of walking out, Hamtramck teachers held a “walk-in.”
Teachers, who were also wearing red in solidarity with a national movement called #redfored, said it was a protest of state funding to school districts.
“It’s in support of our district,” said Jamie Jankowski, a math specialist at Dickinson East Elementary School.
Teachers at Dickinson gathered at the school’s entrance just before students arrived in the morning and walked around the building to the Edwin St. entrance.
Michelle Cook, the president of the teachers’ union, said Hamtramck does not receive proper funding.
“While there are many issues that our members care deeply about, today we want to shine a spotlight on the chronic underfunding of our public schools,” Cook told The Review.
Cook said that according to the School Finance Research Collaborative, the cost to educate a student in this state is $9,590 per student each year.
Hamtramck receives $7,631 per student.
The Collaborative is a private organization of Michigan business leaders and education experts.
The organization, which is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is studying how to undertake changing the way the state funds education.
Cook added that the base cost to educate students goes up for at-risk students (who cost an additional 35 percent) and those who do not speak a foreign language (costing 35 to 75 percent more), Cook said.
Hamtramck is a unique district compared to the rest of the state. Out of over 3,000 students enrolled here, more than 2,000 speak a foreign language as their first language.
While the district has a comfortable $9 million budget surplus, the district’s Director of Finance, Sherry Lynem, earlier in the year warned that there is talk in the state and federal government to slash school aid in the coming years, which would require dipping into that surplus.
The language barrier has long been a challenge to the district. For generations Hamtramck has been the home to recently arrived immigrants.
School officials have beefed up the number of teachers – now standing at 25 — who specialize in teaching English.