Under a new contract between the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers union and the school district, White teachers will be laid off before teachers of color.
Last spring, teachers went on a two-week strike, leading to the agreement that gives teachers of color additional job protections.
“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 says.
Additionally, it says when reinstating teachers, “the District shall prioritize the recall of a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the district.”
The labor agreement’s intent is to protect “underrepresented populations” and solve for “past discrimination” by the district.
That discrimination “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.”
According to a June Minneapolis Star Tribune report, approximately 60% of Minneapolis students are non-white compared to 16% of the district’s tenured teachers and 27% of its probationary teachers.
The agreement states that teachers of color “may be exempted from district-wide layoff[s] outside seniority order,” reported Minnesota outlet Alpha News.
The union says the policies will move the district “closer to safe and stable schools” because “Students need educators who look like them and who they can relate to.”
A representative of the Upper Midwest Law Center told Alpha News the agreement was “unconstitutional.”
“The [collective bargaining agreement] … openly discriminates against white teachers based only on the color of their skin, and not their seniority or merit,” said James Dickey, senior trial counsel at UMLC.
Edward Barlow, a band teacher and member of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers executive board, told the Star Tribune the agreement “can be a national model, and schools in other states are looking to emulate what we did.”