Pamela Marentette and Khulia Pringle seem to suggest that teachers in Minneapolis and St. Paul are already adequately paid, if not overpaid ("Students, families need stability, not a strike," Opinion Exchange, Feb. 19). Aside from obfuscating that pay increases are not the sole — or even primary — reason for the strike vote, they also neglect important context.
They cite $85,457 as the average teacher salary in St. Paul — the "highest in the state." Perhaps so, but the (publicly available) St. Paul Public Schools salary schedule makes clear that such a salary requires at least a master's degree with 20 years of teaching experience, a Ph.D. with more than a dozen years of teaching experience, or some combination of experience and education falling between those two. If that's the average salary in St. Paul, that speaks, primarily, to the quality of teachers working in the district.
A master's degree and 20 years of experience could lead to two to three times that $85,000 salary in many industries. Suggesting that teachers don't deserve commensurate pay with the rest of the working world devalues the work teachers do.
Mike Phillips, Minneapolis
The writer is a teacher.
To help the public better understand how their education tax dollars are being used, please publish the names and positions of all employees at the Minneapolis Public Schools Davis Center (the district administrative offices) who earn $100,000 or more. Do any of these people hold Minnesota teaching licenses? If so, why aren't they in the classroom where they are needed? Surely, classroom teachers should be paid as much or more than administrators.
In addition, how many classes do principals and vice principals teach each week? I remember a time when principals served double duty and were full-time teachers. I'm not saying we need to go back to that model, but surely these people should be teaching at least one class a week.
At a time when Minnesota has a budget surplus, we need to get serious about funding education. Cut back on the administrative positions to fully fund our teachers. They deserve a raise!
Ruth Thorstad, Dresser, Wis.
As a private citizen, it strikes me how off the rails both the St. Paul/Minneapolis school administrators and their labor unions have become. You both realize that folks are voting with their kids and dumping you in large numbers. Right? You both realize there is a smaller pie to be divided. Right? You realize that not showing up for work will shrink the pie. Right? My recommendation to the administration is to think outside the box. My recommendation to teachers is to think outside the box.
To administrators: A huge issue for parents is that their children receive meals. Can this be done more efficiently in contracted relationships?
To teachers: You want your support staff to earn higher wages. Are you open to getting there with private enterprise?
To administrators: What are you doing to bring excellence to public schools?
To teachers: If you are unhappy and consider yourself poorly paid, leave. The private market will rightly price your effectiveness. There is no justification for a strike. There is a need to reflect, recover and improve big-time. There is a need for excellence. Should this idea have escaped you, it has not escaped your competition. Certainly you have observed parents moving beyond your drama.
Kevin McGauley, Oakdale
In my 30-plus years of teaching, I have never seen students in such crisis: Post-pandemic, the skills they missed learning in school such as how to be a part of a group, resolve conflicts, handle anxiety and persevere through struggle have to be addressed in addition to the academic learning they missed.
Our long underfunded, underappreciated system of care and learning in the public schools has reached a boiling point. This is why 97-98% of the people caring for and teaching our next generation voted in support of this strike.
We hope it doesn't come to a strike. We hope MPS will find a way to meet the needs of our children. But if a strike is the only way, 97% of us think it's worth it.
Karen Utter, Minneapolis
I served on the Minneapolis school board for four years. I know what it is to manage a district with shrinking enrollment and diminished resources. I know the frustration of trying to provide English language services to thousands of children without adequate state support. I know the injustice of trying to support a large special education population without adequate federal funds (promised for decades). I know the agony of witnessing racial disparities that limit the potential for all students to achieve their highest potential. I know what it is to face a strike.
I also have a daughter who has been an MPS educator for 12 years. She is passionate, dedicated and professional and loves her students. She is excellent at her craft and gives her all. She is also exhausted and demoralized. She feels disrespected by the current school administration, unheard and unappreciated. Like many health care providers, she is tired of platitudes and wants policymakers to recognize her profession for the essential work that it is. Sometimes people fight back not only because of money or benefits, but because of the emotional toll of bearing the burden for our children's future, while some in the Legislature demean them and their administration takes them for granted.
I see both sides.
Pam Costain, Minneapolis
What makes people think they can freely abuse teachers the way they do these days? Everyone is an expert in education after having spent a few years on Facebook. Go. Try teaching. Volunteer in a classroom. Spend some of your own money on classroom supplies. Talk to the parent of a disruptive child who tells you, "Not my child." Go to school during the summer because your license depends on it and pay your own tuition. Try to pay off the loan for your master's degree on your inadequate salary.
The only payoff for teaching? It's the student who says, "You are the best teacher in the world," or the former student who says, "You helped me become the success I am today." Go. Be a teacher.
Ginni Arons, Minneapolis
No, Putin is not a 'genius.' Geez.
Few articles I have read about Donald Trump have infuriated me more than reading excerpts of his appearance on "The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show" ("Trump: Putin's aggression 'genius,'" Feb. 23). It reveals, perhaps more than ever, his real feelings about embracing and preserving democracy. His praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin's military strategy of invading Ukraine as "genius" and "pretty savvy" are disgusting. Further, Trump said, "He's going to go in and be a peacekeeper. ... We could use that on our southern border."
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney reacted by saying, "Trump's interests don't seem to align with the interests of the United States of America." Of course, Senate and House Republicans will dismiss her comments by claiming that she is a just a RINO or a puppet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It will be interesting to see how Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham and Rep. Kevin McCarthy and the other Trumpers will defend him this time. And of course, when confronted, Trump will resort to his typical defense by claiming he was just being sarcastic.
My sincere prayer is that all Americans — Republicans, Democrats and everyone else — will seriously consider if the U.S. and our democracy could possibly survive another term of Trump in office.
Ron Hagberg, Minnetonka
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