30,000+ students displaced as Minneapolis teachers union strikes

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers launched its strike Tuesday morning that shuttered classrooms for over 30,000 students in the Minneapolis Public Schools district.

The teachers union and district have been trying to negotiate a new two-year collective bargaining contract, but have so far been unable to come to an agreement on the contract’s terms.

The union’s “main demands,” reports MPR News, include caps on class sizes, wage increases, and more mental health supports for students. But school district officials have said “they’re already facing budget shortfalls due to enrollment losses stemming from the pandemic and can’t spend money they don’t have,” according to MPR.

The Minneapolis district was $27.6 million in the red before the coronavirus hit.

Students will pay the price

Minneapolis teachers union president Greta Callahan announced Monday evening the plans to begin the strike today (Tuesday), including in her remarks that “our kids deserve better.”

Students do deserve better. After two years of lost instruction and learning from COVID, a strike at this time does a grave disservice to them and the teachers who want to show up to teach them.

Even before COVID, the district has struggled to help students grow academically, despite nearly consistent increases in per pupil spending. Many of those students, particularly students of color, can’t afford to fall further behind. For example, only 17.8 percent of black students were performing at grade level in math in 2017, and that percentage has been decreasing over the years. According to spring 2021 test results, now only 8.2 percent of black students districtwide are proficient.

This strike is not for the kids, and the union should not pretend it is.

Source: Minnesota Department of Education