For Immediate Release:                     

Johnson collaborates with DPS EFM Rob Bobb in dismantling public education in Detroit

Contact: Steve Conn. 313-645-9340

Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) nominal president Keith Johnson has brought internal union charges against union activists Steve Conn, Heather Miller and Tracy Arneau in a desperate attempt to bureaucratically eliminate opposition to his illegal efforts to reinstall himself as president of the union through a fraudulent ballot count, and to protect his continuing policies of collaboration with DPS EFM Robert Bobb.

In the recent run-off elections for DFT President, Johnson claims to have received 40 more votes than challenger Steve Conn. However, 718 of the 4,625 votes cast were not counted. The election committee refused to follow the bylaws and carry out a hand recount, which would have revealed Steve Conn to be the actual winner of the election. Instead, Johnson hurriedly took the oath of office at the last union meeting, before DFT members could even vote to accept or reject the election committee’s report. Johnson then fled the meeting, after which the members took an overwhelming vote of “no confidence” in Keith Johnson and demanded a new election.

“The charges are completely baseless. They are a cover for Johnson’s desperate bid to seize and hold union power dictatorially and thereby assist Rob Bobb in destroying public education in Detroit,” said Steve Conn. “Teachers are united with students, parents and the community to stop Bobb’s ‘search and destroy’ mission against public education in Detroit. We are fighting to restore democracy in our union and to save our students’ right to a public education,” Conn stated.

Johnson’s cooperation has been key to enabling EFM Robert Bobb to implement destructive academic policies which serve only to create chaos in DPS, thereby paving the road for privatization through the expansion of charters.

Last Friday, Bobb ordered a large number of teachers to be removed from the classroom effective today, reassigning them to the classification of “Math Coach” or “Technology Coach.” When Conn and his caucus, Defend Public Education/Save Our Students, organized teachers to resist the removal of teachers from the classroom, Bobb threatened an equal number of layoffs instead.  Whether through reassignment or layoffs, thousands of students will have their education disrupted mid-year, undermining continuity for the students and creating such overwhelming conditions of over-crowding in the remaining classrooms that teaching is impossible.

“These are untenable conditions. The overwhelmingly black and Latino/a students of Detroit are being denied access to education. The billionaires and their corporations must be forced to pay more taxes so that the government can provide the funds to maintain a functional school system in Detroit. Anything less is the plain racism of a New Jim Crow,” said Joyce Schon, attorney for the Detroit School Board.

Many Detroit teachers will be attending the DFT Executive Board meeting this Thursday after school to demand that the false charges against Conn, Miller and Arneau be dropped, to demand a new election and to demand that the union take action against Bobb’s latest attack on Detroit students and teachers.