Teachers Of Color Protected From Layoffs In New Minneapolis Contract

The protections kick in when there are staff reductions due to budget cuts.

A provision of the new Minneapolis teachers’ with the school district includes language intended to protect teachers of color from layoffs if there are future staff reductions due to budget cuts.

According to CBS News, the agreement was reached between the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and the Minneapolis Public Schools in late March after a three-week strike where educators demanded higher pay, smaller class sizes and more mental health support for their students. The standoff ended when 76 percent of the union voted in favor of the new contract.

Effective next spring, an exception in the new language involves a seniority-based system for staff reductions and layoffs for “teachers who are members of populations underrepresented among licensed teachers in the [d]istrict."

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The contract also includes mentorship support for teachers of color and creates an anti-racist council tasked with "reducing inequitable practices and behaviors in our learning places and spaces as well as supporting educators.”

"The research literature is very clear: teachers of color have a positive impact not only on students of color but also on white students," Dr. Katie Pekel, executive director of educational leadership at the University of Minnesota, said, according to CBS News. "There's this idea of if you can see it, you can be it."

According to research on diversifying the teacher workforce compiled for Minnesota districts, 5.6 percent of licensed teachers identify as a teacher of color or American Indian in Minnesota compared to 30 percent of students.

In a statement, Minneapolis Public Schools said it agreed to the contract with the union "to remedy continuing effects of past discrimination" and the language "aims to support the recruitment and retention of teachers from underrepresented groups as compared to the labor market and to the community served by the school district."

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