Minneapolis (AP)—When Minneapolis Teachers 14 days strike fixed In March, he celebrated a key provision in his new contract to shield teachers of color from seniority-based layoffs and help ensure that students from racially minorities There are teachers who look like him.
Months later, conservative media outlets have emerged with condemnation of the policy as racist and unconstitutional discrimination against white teachers. A legal group wants to recruit teachers and taxpayers willing to sue for taking out the language. The teachers’ union portrays the dispute as a tangled dispute, when there is no imminent threat of one’s job loss. Meanwhile, controversy is raging just months ahead of a debate in some US Supreme Court cases that could reshape affirmative action.
“The same people who want to dismantle teacher unions and blame seniority are now defending it for white people,” said Greta Callahan, chair of the teacher unit at the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. “It is all made up by the right wing now. And we couldn’t be more proud of this language.
Recent coverage in conservative platforms such as the local news website Alpha News, Fox News Nationally and the Daily Mail internationally criticized prominent figures, including Donald Trump Scott Walker, Jr. and former Wisconsin Gov., who curtailed the power of public workers unions in his state. Walker called it “another example of ending government unions” on Twitter.
The contract language does not specifically say that white teachers will be placed ahead of teachers of color, although critics say the effect will be. The contract exempts “members of the under-represented population among licensed teachers in the district” as well as alumni of historically black and Hispanic colleges and tribal colleges. About 60% of the district’s teachers are white, while more than 60% of the students are from racial minorities.
Advocates say students from racial minorities perform better when their teachers include teachers of color and support staff, and that’s especially important in a district that suffers from stubborn achievement gaps. Callahan said his union fought for years To add security to their contract, and she knows of two other districts in Minnesota with similar provisions.
Minneapolis is One of America’s many districts is struggling With dwindling number of teachers and tight budget. But Callahan disputes that the provision threatens one’s job, noting that there are about 300 vacancies in Minneapolis. teachers and students prepare to go back to school, And the language won’t take effect until the 2023 academic year.
Callahan called it “just a teeny, small step toward equity” that doesn’t start for many teachers of color leaving the district in recent years because they feel underpaid and humiliated.
For Lindsey West, a fifth-grade teacher at Clara Barton Community School who identifies as black and Indigenous, seniority is a piece of a larger mission to reform language education.
West said she feels strongly that students of color benefit from teachers who look like them, but added that she has also seen diversity be empowering for white students. She said she has sometimes been the first teacher of color that black or white students have.
“We want children of all demographics to have experiences with people from different backgrounds and different cultures, and to be aware that our shared humanity is important, not the things that divide us,” West said.
Minneapolis Public Schools interim superintendent Rochelle Cox declined a request for an interview.
“The purpose of this provision is clearly to treat white teachers based on the color of their skin, regardless of qualifications, and this is a major problem under the Constitution and the 14th Amendment,” said senior trial attorney James Dickey. Upper Midwest Law Center, a conservative nonprofit that often takes on public employee unions. It has litigated over issues such as the COVID-19 mask mandate and the display of Black Lives Matter posters.
Dickey said his group is considering suing and that a flood of Minneapolis taxpayers – and some teachers – have contacted him to say they are “outraged that my tax dollars are being used to fund such a racist agenda.” can go for.”
He argued that a 1986 US Supreme Court decision known as the Vaygent case that precludes such provisions and would serve as a precedent in Minnesota.
The Voygent case involved a teacher contract in Jackson, Michigan, which took a different approach from the Minneapolis settlement. This effectively stated that Jackson could not make the cut which reduced the percentage of minority personnel employed in the district. White teachers filed suit after the layoffs, while some teachers of color with less seniority kept their jobs. A divided Supreme Court held that the layoffs violated the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.
Andrew Crook, a spokesman for the American Federation of Teachers, said he did not know anything resembling Minneapolis wording in contracts in other states, although he added that some contracts provide exceptions directly from seniority rules for teachers in difficult-to-fill specialties. We do. such as mathematics and special education.
Officials from other national public employees unions and professional unions either said they knew nothing of the sort in their fields or did not respond to requests for comment.
Two affirmative action Cases set for oral debate before the Supreme Court in October, which involved Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, could have an impact on the Minneapolis dispute. Keeping in mind the race in college admission, matters are challenging Decision.
Affirmative action has been reviewed several times by the High Court over the past 40 years and has generally been upheld, but with limits. With three new conservative justices on the court since its last review, however, Practice may be facing its greatest danger So far.
Joseph Daly, professor emeritus at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, who over the years has mediated disputes across the country, including several teacher cases, said the Minneapolis language is designed to avoid court challenge.
“In the past the US Supreme Court has taken affirmative action when ultimately very legitimate objectives were to be achieved in demanding equality for all human beings,” Daly said. “Now the question today is: Will the courts uphold this concept in light of the more conservative stance on the Supreme Court? I have no answer.”