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Minneapolis Teachers Strike

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Minneapolis teachers walked off the job today:

Teachers in Minneapolis are set to go on strike on Tuesday morning, shuttering classrooms for about 30,000 public school students.

For weeks, the teachers’ unions and school district officials have been negotiating over salaries, hiring and resources for students’ mental health. The talks in Minneapolis failed to reach a resolution by their Monday evening deadline, with the district saying that it could not afford to meet teachers’ demands.

A teachers’ strike was averted in St. Paul, after the union, the Saint Paul Federation of Educators, and Saint Paul Public Schools reached a tentative agreement on Monday night.

In Minneapolis, teachers were planning to picket in front of schools starting on Tuesday morning. Greta Callahan, who leads the teachers’ chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, said significant change was needed.

Members of the union have asked for more competitive salaries for teachers, a starting salary of $35,000 for most education support professionals, better conditions to recruit and retain educators of color, and enough staff to address students’ mental health needs.

Ed Graff, the superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, has said that the district shared many of the same goals. But the district said it had been hamstrung by falling enrollment numbers, which means cuts to school budgets.

The district, he said, “continues to face a significant gap between the resources we have — our revenue — and the financial commitments we made — our expenses,” in part because of falling enrollment, rising costs and decades of underfunding.

Like the teacher strikes around the nation over the last few years, this is a combination of the needed financial demands from workers and standing up for the students too. That community unionism has been critical for these strikes nationwide and a reason why most have been successful. Yes, the teachers need more money. Would you like your kid’s teacher grading their work and sleeping or working a second job? But even outside of this, standing up for mental health care for the students is hugely important. It’s also a racial justice strike. I’m not downplaying whatever issues really exist in the city’s school funding. But that’s not really the teachers’ problem right now. This strike is necessary for a lot of reasons and the teachers deserve our support.

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