After weeks of bargaining with the teachers’ union, a new contract was constructed to “protect” teachers of color. However, educators quickly found out that it means white teachers could be at a disadvantage, regardless of seniority.
Thanks to the clever wording in a contract, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is paving the way for taxpayer-funded discrimination in the workplace. Disturbingly, a recent collective bargaining agreement struck between the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and MPS following a 2-week-long teachers’ strike has resulted in a policy that will engage in firing and hiring practices that favor certain races over others.
Starting in the Spring, educators will be subject to layoffs or transfers in order of seniority — but there’s a catch. If the teacher happens to be a person who is marginally represented in the community, the schools may ignore seniority in order to prioritize skin color.
WCIV reports the contract states that if a teacher is “a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the District,” the schools may “excess,” which means to lay off or transfer, teachers “outside of seniority order.” The agreement also applies to recalling or rehiring teachers who were previously let go.
“[T]he District shall deprioritize the more senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population, in order to recall a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers,” the agreement indicated.
Both district and union representatives claim that the contract makes Minneapolis one of the only school districts in the U.S. to implement a “seniority-disrupting” code specifically designed to hold race over merit.
“This is landmark language in a collective bargaining agreement,” said Joseph Daly, a Mitchell Hamline University law professor and arbitrator with the state’s Bureau of Mediation Services. “I’ve never seen language like this.”
The contract also incorporates the “Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Staff Development and Advisory Council,” which promises to focus on equity and supporting “specifically educators of color, in navigating and disrupting our district as a predominantly white institution.”
“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 spokesperson for Minneapolis Public Schools told TND in a statement.
The policy was put in place to reform the district’s workforce, of which 18 percent of teachers are people of color. The district hopes to reshape employment to more closely resemble the student body, of which 62 percent are African-American, Latino, and Native American students.
Law professor Daly says that he expects to see lawsuits filed over the policy, which one could argue violates the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment.
“Will there be legal problems? Probably the same problems we’ve had for years and years with the concept of affirmative action,” Daly said. “To me, this is an attempt at affirmative action, to bring in and keep teachers who look like the kids they’re teaching.”
After examining the contract, University of Minnesota Law Professor Stephen Befort believes that the district was careful to never mention race-based hiring in the agreement so as to avoid these inevitable lawsuits.
“It’s pretty clear that how they crafted the provision, they were trying to make it defensible legally,” Befort said.
It’s disturbing to see a race-based employment code implemented by a government entity, especially one as important as education. Still, this policy is only a symptom of the racially-divisive curricula already being taught in America’s schools.
The remedy is clear — we must remove our children from these schools, stand up in the public forums concerning our children’s education, and vote to replace individuals who do not represent the equality and freedoms our Constitution guarantees every individual, regardless of color. Of course, if this doesn’t work, there is always a class-action lawsuit waiting around the corner.