DFL Legislators Speak Out on the Increase Teachers of Color Acts

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Tuesday, the chief authors of the House and Senate Increase Teachers of Color Act bills spoke out on the economic, cultural, and emotional importance of providing robust support for new and current teachers of color in Minnesota schools. Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton), Senator Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis), Representative Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis) and Representative Alicia Kozlowski (DFL-Duluth)presented their bills to strengthen the Teachers of Color Act in E-12 and higher education and release the following statements:

“For decades, Minnesota students have been starving to have teachers who reflect the rich racial and ethnic diversity of our schools and our state,” said Sen. Kunesh, chief author of SF 619, which addresses E-12 programs. “The policies in these bills will help close student opportunity gaps and alleviate our overall teacher shortage by helping students see themselves following a teacher’s career path.”

“Minnesota public schools are growing more and more diverse, and to set our students up for success, it is important that our students see themselves represented in the classroom,” said Rep. Hassan, chief author of HF 320, which relates to E-12 programs. I’m proud to carry this legislation in the House so that generations to come can envision bright futures for themselves at an early age.”

“As legislators, we owe it to those students to do some homework of our own and make use of what we learn,” said Senator Omar Fateh, chief author of SF 267, which relates to college and university programs. “If we pass the Increase Teachers of Color Act, attendance, academic achievement, graduation rates, and college admission numbers will increase. Punitive discipline, dropouts, and incidents of racial discrimination will decrease. This legislation will also help to recruit and retain a new generation of BIPOC educators into stable, good-paying, rewarding employment. These programs would benefit white students, white teachers and professors. More equitable schools are better schools, period.”

“The Increase Teachers of Color Act will address the severe and chronic shortage of teachers of color and Indigenous identities. This legislation will give our kids and our families a fighting chance on even ground, ” said Rep. Alicia Kozlowski, chief author of HF 381, which pertains to higher education. “Currently, there are over 2,000 teachers of color and American Indian candidates who need and deserve our support to graduate and enter our schools. We cannot afford to lose these potential educators from our education workforce and communities. We need to invest in teachers that not only look like our extensively diverse student population but those who share similar lived experiences to help encourage, affirm, and motivate them toward their dreams and goals. With this transformative legislation, we are investing in the future of our state’s economic development and our future workforce generation.” 

The percent of teachers in Minnesota who are people of color or Indigenous has stagnated at 2% for over two decades. These bills will address both the severe, chronic shortage of teachers who reflect our state’s increasingly diverse students—who are 37% BIPOC—and alleviate the overall teacher shortage.


Mary K. Kunesh represents Senate District 39, which covers the communities of St. Anthony Village, New Brighton, Hilltop, Columbia Heights, Fridley, and a portion of Spring Lake Park.

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Omar Fateh represents Senate District 62, which covers the community of South Minneapolis.

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