The Minneapolis teachers union has come out against a sweeping plan to reshape the public school system, calling on the district to extend its timeline and let students, parents and educators have a say in the design.
The union, which represents more than 3,000 teachers, voted Friday to oppose the school district’s redesign plan. The plans proposed by Superintendent Ed Graff would upend the district’s makeup by cutting and relocating magnet schools and redrawing attendance boundaries, shuffling thousands of students to new schools in an effort to address racial disparities.
“Although the teachers union agrees that the status quo is not acceptable, it also recognizes that any plan that was created without community, student and educator collaboration and buy-in is destined to have negative impacts on the trust in Minneapolis Public Schools,” Michelle Wiese, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, said Wednesday. She urged the district to take a collaborative approach to any major overhaul.
More than 150 union members cast votes, with 82% voting to oppose the comprehensive district design, known as the CDD. The union was also informed by two recent member surveys, taken on Feb. 19 and Jan. 17, in which more than 1,000 respondents weighed in on the proposal.
At least two-thirds of survey respondents opposed the district’s plans. They said the district has not released enough detail about the redesign, nor has it rolled out the plan in a way that is fair and inclusive to students, teachers and families.
“This change, decided by the district and after hiring outsiders to help create this, is not what’s best for kids,” said Greta Callahan, the union’s recording secretary and a kindergarten teacher at Bethune elementary in north Minneapolis.
District leaders drew up the five proposed plans with a nearly $20 million budget deficit in mind and a desire to stem the flow of students out of the district. District data show the current structure has led to more segregated schools, a growing student achievement gap and worse outcomes for schools in north and northeast Minneapolis.
Graff said Wednesday that the district is “disappointed that a small percentage of our total MFT membership is not supportive of the models we have developed.” He said he hopes the union will reconsider its opposition when the district brings forward its final proposal to the school board on March 24. The board is scheduled to vote on it in April.
Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234