Following a decision by the Minnesota Public Schools, a new policy has been enacted that will lay off white teachers first — if the district needs to downsize, white teachers will be fired first.
As my colleague Jeff Charles reported, the agreement states:
“Starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle, if excessing 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.”
Following the decision, constitutional lawyer Hans Bader wrote an op-ed, as noted by my colleague, which states:
“It is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. When it comes to termination (as opposed to hiring or promotion under an affirmative-action plan), an employer can’t racially discriminate even against whites. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1996 that an school district can’t consider race even as a tie-breaker, in deciding who to lay off, even to promote diversity, because that (a) unduly trammels the white teacher’s rights — even affirmative action plans are supposed to be mild and not unduly trammel someone’s rights, and getting fired as opposed to being denied a promotion unduly trammels someone’s rights — and (b) putting that aside, the school district couldn’t consider race to promote diversity when black people weren’t seriously underrepresented in its workforce as a whole. That ruling was Taxman v. Board of Education of Piscataway, 91 F.3d 1547 (3d Cir. 1996).”
Despite the backlash this blatantly racist policy has received, it was recently defended by the president and vice president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. On Friday, in an appearance on ABC, Greta Callahan, president of the teachers’ union, said:
“This contract language was something that we are, first of all, extremely proud of for achieving but it also doesn’t go far enough … We need to support and retain our educators, especially those who are underrepresented, and this language does one tiny, minuscule step towards that but doesn’t solve the real crisis we’re in right now.”
Marcia Howard, the teachers’ union vice president, added:
“This is the language that we put in and that we went out and marched for … We voted on this, the district and the union agreed upon this and now it’s coming out because some Minnesotan website decided to put it out there and the MAGA media picked it up and they were waiting for mainstream media to run with this story. It’s a non-story. It was language about the event of a layoff and we are nowhere near having layoffs this year. We’re down like 250 teachers. We’re down. There are no layoffs. So I ask y’all why? Why is this a story?”
Minneapolis Federation of Teachers President Greta Callahan and Vice President Marcia Howard address the controversy over prioritizing the retention of teachers of color over those with seniority.#GMA3 pic.twitter.com/FFeUpfuoIx
— GMA3: What You Need To Know (@ABCGMA3) August 19, 2022
All mainstream media outlets and the local channels in Minneapolis should have picked up this story because it is newsworthy, not just “MAGA media.” But once again, they must make this about Trump. They still bring up his MAGA slogan, even about something that has absolutely nothing to do with him.
LEO TERRELL on Minneapolis teachers union agreement that stipulates white teachers would be laid off first: "It's racist and should be invalidated immediately." pic.twitter.com/DFjRFOwLdj
— Martin Golobic (@golobicm) August 16, 2022
I can’t believe this needs to be said, but teachers — and any profession — should be hired for being the most qualified, hardest working, skilled, talented, and most prepared person for the job, regardless of race or ethnicity. Callahan said she’s “extremely proud” of the policy. This further divides us as a nation. Racism and discrimination in all forms are bad, and that’s exactly what this policy is, and those who advocate against racism and discrimination need to speak up against it.