Readers Write: Teachers’ Strike, Minneapolis Report, New Prague
On Thursday morning, my mother read me a letter to the editor. I heard her say that someone was furious that teachers were going on strike and shaming them. I am a 10 year old boy who attends public schools in Minneapolis, and have been picketing for the past few days and can now safely say that this reader was wrong for shaming the teachers. Two of the teachers I picketed with had a sign that said, “I’d rather teach, but it’s important. What I take from this is that they are not selfish. They would prefer to be with their children in the classroom. They are partially striking for us. They want smaller classes so they don’t have to worry when everyone in their class is screaming, they want better health support because they don’t want kids to feel vulnerable at school, they want nurses at school every day so if someone gets badly injured they can be there right away and lastly they want more colored staff so black or brown skinned kids have the inspiration to do this what they want to do.
In conclusion, teachers are not going on strike just for them. They also do this for all students.
Heiko Bohnhoff, Minneapolis
The Minneapolis Teachers’ Federation is being led in this strike by amateurs who have held our children and their education hostage (“Mpls teachers make support staff pay ‘hard line,'” front page, March 10). They are not competent to navigate this problem due to its massive size. They deny the hard truths about finances and they don’t understand the basic math in the gap between what they require and what is possible. They don’t even begin to understand what it takes to fund salaries and pensions in the future. Their leaders said there was Biden relief plan and state surplus funding, indicating an incredible lack of understanding that these funds already have demands, deadlines and allocations against them. MFT management is too myopic to work with lawmakers on bill and bond funding and other mechanisms to accomplish what they are asking for.
And all of this is happening as leaders lack experience in a complex, billion-dollar budgeting process with many, often competing priorities. It is terrifying for the education of our children to be in the hands of such incompetence. Get back to work, MFT, and stick to the teaching. You’ve made Minneapolis even more desirable. Path to follow.
Robert Raub, Minneapolis
Can we specify what is the annual salary of our teachers? I saw the average listed as $71,000 for teachers in Minneapolis today. So my guess is that with a nine-month work year for most teachers, the salary equates to an annual salary of over $94,000 if they’ve worked 12 months like the rest of us. What I mean (I don’t judge if it’s enough or not) is that their salary corresponds to nine months of work, not 12.
Charles Hendrickson, Christopher Columbus
This is the last place I wanted to be: writing at 1am on the third day of the strike. No salary. Worried how long this will last. I’m basically caught between a rock and a hard place. Some might say I should be grateful to have this job. And they’re right – I’m grateful. Ten years ago, I lost my job where I worked for almost eight years. I remember trying to take a shower after crying and saying, “Why God? Why ?
I remember working minimum wage for almost two years after that, wondering if I would be stuck doing this forever. Then I got this job eight years ago. I was so afraid of ruining everything because I felt like I was ruining everything. Fortunately, I had a confidante in the nurse who helped me through this. And it’s amazing work. It’s a job where every day I feel like I’m making a difference in someone else’s life.
So why go on strike? Because maybe I deserve more than I think. Maybe I deserve better. Maybe I really matter in the whole scheme of things. As it stands, I had to take a second job in 2020, so I’m not necessarily making all that money some people think I could make.
That said, I know people say that money is scarce here and there and everywhere. But couldn’t people make an exception? And I know people will read this and be apathetic and say I’m greedy and selfish. Except I lived a life where I was harassed and bullied for the most part, where people wrote me off over and over again, where I felt like all I was supposed to do was fight and fight until the day I die. So maybe I feel this need to be acknowledged and this struggle could finally be over, or better than it ever was.
So far this is the third day of the strike as I write. I went to the union headquarters the day before and helped. I had no intention of picketing until I got a text from my mom. She was not happy with the closure and insisted that she and I picket next week if this stalemate persists. Hopefully the stalemate ends before then.
William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul
It would take a single percentage of our $9.3 billion budget surplus to meet the demands of our striking educators. It is sad and pathetic that we cannot meet the fundamental demands of the educators who deserve it most, the people who have literally been heroes for the past two years (and who are every day), the people who inspire and raise our children. I don’t want to hear excuses, I don’t want to hear about budget limitations, I want our children to go back to school with teachers who feel empowered and valued doing one of the most important jobs. of the planet. I am furious. Haven’t our children suffered enough from the pandemic? Haven’t our teachers earned a fair salary that follows the cost of living? Have you seen our teachers handing out school meals during the pandemic and turning their lives upside down to serve our children?
What will it take to clarify our priorities? We should be ashamed.
Matthew Van Dyke, Minneapolis
For me, it’s not all about race. I am even part of a very small minority who are not convinced that the murder of George Floyd was above all a racial incident.
But something is seriously missing when the outside after-action review of Minneapolis’s response to the civil unrest following Floyd’s killing doesn’t even mention the word “race” (“Deputies’ Chaotic Response to Floyd Riots Detailed,” First page, March 9). In an 86-page report that discusses the police, protests and community trust in the police, surely the issue of race must have come up at some point.
Chuck Turchick, Minneapolis
I believe that the students who displayed a white power symbol didn’t know what they were doing, according to their administrators’ explanation in “New Prague students make a ‘white power’ gesture during a tournament of state hockey” (StarTribune.com, March 10). I also believe it is no coincidence that children are not educated to be aware of the meaning of racist symbols and the power and potency of their impact. The New Prague district has drawn statewide media attention to the mismanagement of running at sporting events. Have parents, schools, and administrators implemented a comprehensive curriculum and created places for discussion to protect students from the implications of their own naivety? Parents, schools and the community need to educate students. Were some of these people instead working to ban the kind of education that might have saved their youth from becoming the center of yet another controversy?
Annika Fjelstad, Minneapolis
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