The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) voted to strike this week after failing to agree to a contract with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). The MFT is seeking to have education support professionals receive a higher starting wage, who are critical to ensuring students are prepared to learn. Their current salaries do not provide a living wage and are not competitive with basic entry level jobs in the private sector. The teacher’s union is also seeking higher base pay to account for inflation over the past two decades, a reduction in class sizes, and more student mental health support.
The Minneapolis teacher strike is happening while school districts across the state experience unprecedented budget challenges, as well as student learning loss due to the pandemic, teacher shortages, and staff burnout. When adjusting for inflation, state aid to school districts lags by $2 billion over the next biennium, which has put undue burden on local property taxes and school board budgets. Unfunded mandates to provide special education and English learner services to students that are not reimbursed by the state puts added pressure on school finances. These school funding concerns exist while the state faces an unprecedented $9 billion budget surplus.
The Senate DFL remains committed to ongoing, collaborative discussions about using the unprecedented $9 billion budget surplus to fully fund our schools and increase the general education formula, tackle the special education cross subsidy, fully fund mental health services, and address the specific needs of our students, specifically in the areas of hunger, English language learning, and literacy.