Yesterday, educators in Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools filed 10-day strike notices. After two years of continued crisis and decades of divestment, educators are drawing a line in the sand for themselves and our students. That means they’ll go on strike unless contract agreements are reached before March 8.
As parents of students in these districts, we’re acutely aware of how a potential strike will impact our kids and families – and we know that if we want safe, stable schools for our kids, we must stand in solidarity with the educators who provide that safety and security.
All of us are impacted by the state of our public schools. Take action now to show your support, loudly and proudly:
In Minneapolis, educators with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers are advocating for:
- Increased minimum salary of $34,000 for educational support professionals (ESPs), who currently make a base salary of just $24,000 a year. These are poverty wages and that is unacceptable.
- A 20% pay increase for teachers. This may sound like a big number, but Minneapolis teacher salaries haven’t kept up with the cost of living. Teacher salaries have increased by 42% since 2001, while the cost of living has gone up by 54%. We must have wages that attract and retain quality teachers for our kids, and the district needs to keep up.
- Investment in recruiting and retaining educators of color. A quality education means our kids need culturally responsive teachers who look like them and share their experiences.
- Mental health support for kids. We are in a childhood mental health crisis; our kids are counting on us to fund the support they need.
- More COVID protections. Our educators risk contracting COVID every time they enter the classroom. They’re frontline workers we rely on, and they deserve to feel safe on the job. And, providing more protection for teachers means our kids will be safer at school, too.
“It’s not going to get any better if we do nothing. The alternative is for our students to continue to not receive the things that they deserve, and for enrolment to drop. We are offering systemic change,” said MFT teachers chapter president Greta Callahan.
In St. Paul, St. Paul Federation of Educators members are proposing:
- Smaller class sizes so students can get more individualized attention. Students need that extra attention now more than ever during this pandemic.
- Increased staffing for mental health teams at every school. Our schools are experiencing a mental health crisis and especially need more psychologists, intervention specialists and social workers.
- More adults working with our students with special needs so they can get more one-on-one support.
- Creating culturally affirming school climates so all students, no matter what they look like or how much money their family makes, can thrive and succeed.
- Fair and reasonable cost-of-living wages for our educators, especially for our education assistants and support staff, to keep them in the profession.
“We do not take the decision to strike lightly, but strongly feel that this action is necessary if we hope to build the schools that our students deserve and the profession our educators deserve,” The St. Paul union said in an email to members sent Wednesday before filing the 10-day strike notice.
Solidarity with educators is solidarity with our students and families. We have been moving through this pandemic together, and we are not stopping now. Educators are leading the way, sacrificing their pay, and taking the risk of raising their voices so that our schools are places of care, safety, and learning.
We’ll be in touch soon with more updates as Minneapolis and St. Paul educators continue negotiating with the school districts. Until then, send us an email if you have questions or want to help us get the word out about standing up for educators, students, and our communities.
Trisha Harms, Communications Director (Minneapolis)
Sabrina Mauritz, Field Director (St. Paul)