Why educators are holding the line: Stories from Patrick Henry High School

A purple and white graphic that says "I stand with Twin Cities Educators" and includes the logos for MFT, ESP and SPFE unions.

As Minneapolis educators wrapped up the second week of their strike for safe and stable schools last Friday, our coworker Yolanda caught up with educators on the line at Patrick Henry High School. 

Hear from Dante, Ms. Cynthia, Ms. Sandy, and Mykl as they share about why they’re holding the line:

“A lot of parents have no knowledge of or say in (the contract). We have been pushed out for so long, it’s like we don’t have a voice or any say. Parents need to be heard.” – Dante, Education Support Professional

Dante is a military veteran and education support professional at Patrick Henry High School. He’s frustrated by how difficult it has been to survive and afford rent with the salary he makes working for Minneapolis Public Schools, knows that students need smaller class sizes and mental health support to succeed, and wants a contract that protects the recruitment and retention of teachers of color, saying, “Representation in the classroom should matter.”

“Everything’s going up. Gas prices are going up, food is going up. Everything’s going up except my salary.” – Ms. Cynthia, Restorative Advocate 

Ms. Cynthia is a restorative advocate at Patrick Henry High School. Her work focuses on advocating for, protecting, and building relationships with students and their families. “It’s about making sure I have a great relationship with the kids, and trying to help them navigate life’s difficulties and the difficult situations that they’re going through.” She’s holding the line because, “I fight for what I believe in. I believe in justice, and I believe in what we’re fighting for; for safe schools, for mental health for our students, and raises for our coworkers.”

“We don’t need another well-intended white woman like me. We need educators to look like our students that are in front of them.” – Ms. Sandy, Instructional Coach and Building Mentor

Ms. Sandy has been working for Minneapolis Public Schools since 1999, and in her roles as instructional coach and building mentor at Patrick Henry High School, she supports and coaches new teachers. Among MFT’s demands, her priority is protecting and retaining her colleagues of color. “My number one goal is, how can I use my white privilege as a white educator, parent, and community member to say, ‘We have to figure out a solution.’” 

“As a student and now as an employee in this, and seeing it perpetuated – we’re just not treated with the respect we deserve. Staff of color are not treated with the respect they deserve, and that is why I’m out here today.” – Mykl, Restorative Advocate

Mykl is a restorative advocate at Patrick Henry High School. He describes he and his fellow restorative advocates as the “community cornerstones” of the school, as they connect students with the resources they need to thrive, mediate and repair hurt and harm, and keep parents engaged and informed. Mykl says the strike feels especially personal as an 11-year alumni of Minneapolis Public Schools, and he’s holding the line because staff aren’t treated with respect, or paid enough, and students aren’t receiving the care or investment they need to thrive. But “the students, the staff, us together, we know what we’re worth, and we project and operate on that value every day.” 

Show up for Minneapolis educators as they continue to fight for the safe, stable schools our kids deserve: 

  • Go to your local school and hold space with educators. Pickets are from 7:30 – 10:00 a.m. every weekday morning. 
  • Write a letter urging the Board of Education to work with educators to build the safe, stable schools Minneapolis students deserve. 
  • Donate to the MFT 59 Strike Fund. 
  • Share the MFT Bargaining Demands far and wide. 
  • Sign and share this petition.  
  • Sign up to support striking educators by joining a picket and providing food, coffee, and words of support. 
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