Conflict of interest: Minneapolis teacher union president running for school board

Imagine this scene playing out at a local teachers’ union meeting:

Union member 1: It’s really hard negotiating with these community members elected to the school board.  

Union member 2: I know, right? And to think we funded their campaigns and got them elected. I feel betrayed.

Union leader: What if we take out the middleman? Work with me. What if we just elect one of our own to the school board? Then we can negotiate with ourselves and secure nice juicy raises and cheaper health insurance!

Union member 1: So moved!

Sadly, this is not fiction. Greta Callahan, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, just announced she is running for an open seat on the Minneapolis school board. If she wins, she will move from one side of the bargaining table to the other.

Callahan was in the news recently for leading teachers in Minneapolis on their three-week strike in 2022 that resulted in a teacher contract so expensive and unsustainable that the superintendent resigned the day after he signed it. The Minneapolis school district continues to hemorrhage students and is facing what’s known as “statutory operating debt.”  

On its face, a teacher union president serving on the school board would be a blatant conflict of interest. But absent any rule or law against it, voters will have to make that judgment in the November election.

That conflict should be obvious to voters, but Callahan would not be the first teacher to successfully run for school board in Minnesota if she wins. In fact, a majority of the current White Bear Lake School Board are either teachers or former teachers. While they don’t currently teach in the district, their loyalty is with their profession, not with parents or taxpayers.

The public sees teachers generically as experts in education, which is understandable. The question for candidate Callahan is whether she can convince voters her loyalty will be with them, not her former employer. I have my doubts.

This post is part of American Experiment’s broader campaign to expose the teachers’ union as an organization more concerned about adults than children. While many teachers in Minnesota work hard and care about the children they teach, their union Education Minnesota has opposed every important education reform in the history of the state. Go to to learn more.