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Mpls. Educators Of Color Want Better Protections, Higher Retention Rates Solidified In Union Contract

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Diversity and the hiring and retention of educators of color is a priority of the Minneapolis Teachers Federation and Minneapolis Public Schools.

But there are a number of teachers of color who want more effort from both the district and union to ensure their jobs are protected by the contract.

The voices of educators asking for smaller class sizes, more mental health help and better pay for ESP's bounced off buildings in downtown Minneapolis Thursday morning.

"We stand in solidarity with all of the priorities our union is fighting for," said Nafeesah Muhammad.

But there is a rumble amongst some teachers of color about hiring and retention MPS.

"Despite the union and the districts commitment and support of teachers of color there are no policies there is no accountability to the initiative to hire and retain teachers of color," said Angelina Momanyi.

These teachers use as an example the number of teachers given pink slips or excessed recently.

The district sets it budget for each school year by factoring in federal aid and how many students have registered. Sometimes it forces them to reduce staffing levels. Out of 250 excessed teachers, 60 were teachers of color, and 30 were tenured.

Some will be re-hired others may not.

"Which just leaves a lot of uncertainty for folks who are excited and committed to being a part of these school communities but have no guarantee that the district is making space or prioritizing them," Momanyi said.

Black teachers want protections in the contract that gives them incentive to stay with the district.

"We want the pay but we also want the protection too because when you retain teachers of color you signal to other teachers of color outside of our district that we pay well and it's also safe," Muhammad said.

In a statement MFT said it intentionally constructed proposals that address the many concerns and challenges that educators of color in MPS have expressed for years, and seeks to retain educators of color and make systemic change within the district.

They say their proposals demand real change.

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