Under a new contract between the Minneapolis School District and the local teachers union, it is a requirement that white teachers will be fired first in the event of any staff downsizing.
“Starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle, if excessing a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the site, the District shall excess the next least senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population,” the agreement, which was originally obtained by Alpha News, says. Minority teachers “may be exempted from district-wide layoff[s] outside seniority order,” and will also be given priority during reinstatement. In addition, teachers at 15 “racially isolated schools…with the greatest concentration of poverty” will be exempt from any downsizing that occurs in the future.
Both parties justify the racially discriminatory measure by pointing to alleged racial hiring inequities in the past. “Past discrimination by the District disproportionately impacted the hiring of underrepresented teachers in the District, as compared to the relevant labor market and the community, and resulted in a lack of diversity of teachers,” the agreement adds.
Despite backlash, the teachers union is sticking by the plan and hopes it can become a national model. “It can be a national model, and schools in other states are looking to emulate what we did,” Edward Barlow, who sits on the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers executive board, told the Star Tribune. “Even though it doesn’t do everything that we wanted it to do, it’s still a huge move forward for the retention of teachers of color.”