News and Commentary

Minneapolis Teachers Go On Strike For Pay Increases, More ‘Educators Of Color’
11 January 2021, Berlin: The hallway of the John Lennon High School in Prenzlauer Berg is empty. As of today (11.1.2021), a tightened lockdown in the Corona pandemic is in effect. The schools remain closed. Photo: Annette Riedl/dpa
Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) will begin a strike on Thursday for the first time in decades — shutting 30,000 students out of the classroom for reasons that include the “recruitment and retention of educators of color.”

“About 3,500 Minneapolis teachers and education support professionals will participate in the strike,” CBS Minnesota reported. “Their demands include a living wage for the support professionals staff, smaller class sizes and a counselor and social worker at every school. They’re also looking for more educators of color and higher teacher salaries. The average for Minneapolis teachers is $71,000.”

MFT President Greta Callahan said that “those at the top of this district continue to hoard power,” claiming that “if we don’t intervene, we believe the Minneapolis Public Schools will cease to exist.”

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Public Schools signaled that they would be willing to cooperate: “While it is disappointing to hear this news, we know our organizations’ mutual priorities are based on our deep commitment to the education of Minneapolis students. MPS will remain at the mediation table non-stop in an effort to reduce the length and impact of this strike.”

MFT’s website features a webpage with “anti-racist” and “racial justice” resources, including an “Anti-Racism Daily” email newsletter and “Racial Equity Advocacy Training.” The webpage suggests various anti-racist books, including How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

As The New York Times reported, Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff has said that the district is facing challenges due to falling enrollment numbers — necessitating cuts to school budgets. Total enrollment from kindergarten through high school plummeted below 30,000 at the start of this school year, down from nearly 33,600 in the fall of 2019. 

In nearby St. Paul — which saw enrollment decline from 37,000 to 34,000 over the same period — strikes were averted as the St. Paul Federation of Teachers and St. Paul Public Schools negotiated a tentative agreement.

Indeed, COVID-19 lockdowns and the rising popularity of left-wing instruction in public schools — especially Critical Race Theory (CRT) and LGBTQ ideology — has motivated many parents to seek new educational opportunities for their children. From March 2020 to September 2020 alone, homeschooling rates across the United States grew between 5.4% and 11%. Over the same period, the United States Department of Education has seen public school enrollment diminish “by its largest margin in at least two decades” — a drop representing a 3% loss in enrollment between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.

A report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools revealed that charter school enrollment increased by 7.1% during the 2020-2021 school year — marking the category’s largest expansion in five years.

“Nearly 240,000 new students enrolled in these innovative, student-centered public schools, despite a sharp decrease in overall public school enrollment during the same period,” the analysis explained. “Of the 42 states evaluated, 39 experienced charter school enrollment increases, while only three saw modest decreases. By comparison, district school enrollment dropped precipitously in every state.”