Minneapolis Public Schools is defending its deal with the teachers’ union to lay off white educators ahead of their less-senior minority colleagues, arguing that it is a necessary measure to remedy “the effects of past discrimination.”
The school district released a statement to the Washington Times on Tuesday, offering a full-throated defense of the groundbreaking deal with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, led by president Greta Callahan.
“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,” the district said in an email.
It was previously reported that the terms of the labor contract were to protect “underrepresented populations” and keep the district’s predominantly white staff from becoming more homogenous.
Under the agreement between the Minneapolis school district and the teacher’s union, minority instructors “may be exempted from district-wide layoff[s] outside seniority order,” according to Minnesota outlet Alpha News.
The language of the contract reportedly states: “starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle, if excessing [reducing] a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the site, the District shall excess the next least senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population.”
The agreement, which was reached in the spring of 2022 in the wake of a two-week teachers’ strike, has been labeled “illegal” and “unconstitutional” by some critics.
James Dickey, senior trial counsel at the Upper Midwest Law Center, told Alpha News the contract “openly discriminates against white teachers based only on the color of their skin, and not their seniority or merit.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in June that 16% of the district’s tenured teachers and 27% of its probationary teachers were people of color.
Many GOP politicians and conservative activists strongly condemned the new teachers’ contract as “racist.”
Minnesota State Rep. Jeremy Munson wrote on his Facebook page: “The Minneapolis teachers Union has taken a racist approach and agreed to protect your job based on your skin color, over your job performance or seniority. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but racist employment contracts have no place in our society.”
Heritage Foundation fellow Jonathan Butcher told Fox News Digital that the Minneapolis contract violates the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
“This is, I think, political posturing,” he said of the race-based approach to teachers’ layoffs. “It is not dealing with the most important issue which is helping students right now with math and reading.”
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who famously went to war with teachers’ unions in his state, slammed the agreement as both racist and illegal.
“This is another example of why government unions should be eliminated,” he tweeted.