For Immediate Release
Contact: Kenneth Eban
Community-based Organizations Call upon Union President Greta Callahan and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers to Reach an Agreement with Minneapolis Public Schools to Protect Teachers of Color from Layoffs before a Strike
(February 10th, 2022 - Minneapolis, MN) - The Advancing Equity Coalition, Racial Justice Network, and We Win Institute are calling upon the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and Union President Greta Callahan to reach an agreement with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) to protect teachers of color from any staffing reductions before a teacher strike takes place. MFT membership will begin voting on Monday, February 14th, whether or not to strike under a call for “Safe and Stable Schools.”
A Time-Sensitive Opportunity to Retain Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers
According to the district’s financial projections (see p. 5 of the 11/16/21 Memo “Pro forma Financial Projections - General Fund), MPS could lay off as many as 134 teachers ahead of next school year due to declining enrollment and revenue. MPS will notify teachers as soon as March if they are a part of staff reductions in their buildings.
Without a formalized agreement between MPS and the MFT explicitly protecting teachers of color and Indigenous teachers from staffing reductions, teachers of color and Indigenous teachers will be disproportionately impacted by the district’s layoffs due to current contract provisions that prioritize seniority within the district. Without such an agreement in place, teachers of color and Indigenous teachers would not be protected or prioritized and could be notified of layoffs while on strike, leaving no recourse for achieving equitable retention practices.
In addition, any agreements made during ongoing contract negotiations that cost the district additional money could increase the number of teachers that need to be laid off – again, disproportionately affecting teachers of color and Indigenous teachers. That’s why the Advancing Equity Coalition, Racial Justice Network, and We Win Institute are calling for an MFT-MPS agreement to be reached as soon as possible – ideally before a strike begins and definitely before the end of February.
“It would be an injustice for the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers to carry a strike into March while leaving teachers of color to excessing and layoffs. We cannot let MFT use protections for teachers of color as a bargaining chip or leverage with the district, and that is why an agreement needs to be in place before a strike begins.” said Titilayo Bediako, Executive Director of We Win Institute and a former MPS teacher.
Hiring & Retention of Teachers of Color at MPS
For years, the Minneapolis community has demanded that MPS increase the racial diversity of their teachers to be more representative of their student population. As a response, up to 30% of new teacher hires have been teachers of color or Indigenous teachers. However, this new influx of teachers of color and Indigenous teachers entering the district become extremely vulnerable to both building and district reductions due to Last In, First Out (LIFO) contract provisions. The impact of these provisions make it difficult for MPS to increase the number of teachers of color in the district - with harmful consequences for all students, especially students of color.
- Despite an uptick in hiring teachers of color, due to the Last In, First Out policy, MPS gained just 6 new teachers of color across the entire K-12 district over a 3 year period from the 2018-19 to the 2020-21 school year.
- 37% of teachers of color and Indigenous teachers are probationary vs. just 23% of white teachers.
- Children of color comprise 66% of the MPS student body but teachers of color make up just 18.5% of the MPS teaching force.
- Research shows that increased teacher diversity improves student engagement, student achievement, high school completion, and college attendance. Additionally, increasing the amount of teachers of color in the district is good for students of color AND white students.
“As a system, we tell teachers of color and Indigenous teachers that they are important. We hire more of them, but then they are the first ones to be let go due to our layoff practices. With declining enrollment and no protections in place, we have a revolving door for teachers of color and Indigenous teachers where we welcome them in and immediately push them out,” said Paula Cole, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence-Minnesota and a former MPS teacher.
The Advancing Equity Coalition has been tracking the current cycle of contract negotiations between MPS and MFT since they began in February 2021. With contract negotiations now being closed to the public, AEC has been sharing resources, hosting events, and offering opportunities to learn more about how the contract impacts teachers of color in MPS. The Racial Justice Network and We Win Institute have been advocating for better conditions and accountability for the educational experiences and outcomes for Black students and teachers.
See attached Resources on Protecting Teachers of Color
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The Advancing Equity Coalition is a collection of organizations representing parents, students, teachers, and local foundations that include Centro Tyrone Guzman, Coalition of Asian American Leaders, Educators for Excellence, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER), Integrated Schools-Minneapolis, J.D. Graves Foundation, Legal Rights Center, Migizi, Northside Achievement Zone, and Voices for Racial Justice. Learn more at AdvancingEquityCoalition.org, RacialJusticeNetwork.com, and We-Win.org
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