Education union wants a ‘racial equity’ fund, elimination of licensing exams

“It’s time for Minnesota to fully fund public education to give students and educators the safe and racially just schools they deserve."

Background: Unsplash stock photo. Left: Education Minnesota logo.

Education Minnesota, the state’s largest education union, released its goals for the new legislative session, which include getting rid of “racially biased” teaching exams, lowering class sizes, and putting in place a $20 per hour “living wage.”

In its 2021 legislative agenda, Education Minnesota focuses on lowering inequality between students, “significantly increasing” funding for public schools, increasing compensation for education professionals, and creating “racially just” schools.

“The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the idea that public schools are the bedrock of our communities,” the agenda reads.

“It’s time for Minnesota to fully fund public education to give students and educators the safe and racially just schools they deserve,” the union declares, calling for the “richest one percent to pay their fair share” and for the state to contribute billions of dollars “into strategies proven to help our students succeed.” 

The union’s plan includes the following items:

  • Hiring more student support staff, including psychologists and nurses
  • Reducing Minnesota’s “underfunding” by “significantly increasing” per-student funding
  • Tying per-student funding to inflation
  • Creating a new “racial equity funding” system and “increasing American Indian aid so schools can better serve students of color and Indigenous students”
  • Lowering class sizes so students can receive more attention
  • Ensuring universal access to child care and early learning
  • Making college education “affordable and accessible” so students can attend without the stress of “unmanageable” loans and debt
  • “Recruiting and retaining more teachers of color, which includes getting rid of the racially biased Minnesota Teacher Licensing Examinations”

Another goal in the legislative agenda calls for “attracting and retaining teachers of color by increasing starting salaries.”

The agenda also points out that Minnesota’s public school funding has not kept up with inflation, stating that the share of funding is “now 11.8 percent less than 2003 in real dollars.”

Other goals of the union include obtaining 12 weeks of paid medical and family leave per worker, expanding Minnesota’s teacher loan forgiveness program, and implementing a $20 per hour “living wage” for education support professionals.

“All education support professionals, or ESPs, deserve the pay and benefits to sustain a family, safe work environments and a voice in their working conditions,” reads the union’s agenda.

“Educators are the experts on what happens in classrooms, lunchrooms, busses, hallways and college campuses across Minnesota. Together, with our students, families and neighbors, educators will fight for the funding and policies our schools and communities need to deliver the education our students deserve, from early childhood through college.”