A new contract recently agreed upon by the Minneapolis teachers union and Minneapolis Public Schools includes a provision that prioritizes protecting teachers of color when it comes to layoffs.
The contract states that teachers will be laid off by "order of seniority" unless the teacher is "a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the District." The Minnesota Reformer reports that while just 18% of the teaching workforce in Minneapolis is nonwhite, 23% of teachers who "excessed," meaning their positions were eliminated, during the 2020-2021 school year, were people of color.
Joseph Daly, a law professor at Mitchell Hamline University who is an arbitrator for the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, told the Reformer: "Will there be legal problems? Probably the same problems we've had for years and years with the concept of affirmative action.
"To me, this is an attempt at affirmative action, to bring in and keep teachers who look like the kids they're teaching."
Minneapolis Federation of Teachers President Greta Callahan added in a statement: "We worked closely with the district to be sure we were turning our shared values of retaining underrepresented educators into enforceable contract language. At the same time, we are still preserving seniority rights to protect all members from arbitrary layoffs."
"To remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination, Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) mutually agreed to contract language that aims to support the recruitment and retention of teachers from underrepresented groups as compared to the labor market and to the community served by the school district," a Minneapolis Public Schools spokesperson said in a statement to ABC affiliate TND.
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