Minnesota school district defends deal with teachers’ union to lay off white teachers first

A Minnesota school board has reacted to fierce criticism over its deal with a teachers’ union that put white instructors at the front of the line for potential layoffs even if they had seniority over their colleagues of color.

(Video: Fox News)

Minneapolis Public Schools defended the controversial idea, a part of its agreement with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) in a deal to end a two-week teachers’ strike this spring, as being necessary to right the perceived wrongs of the past.

“To remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination, Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) mutually agreed to contract language that aims to support the recruitment and retention of teachers from underrepresented groups as compared to the labor market and to the community served by the school district,” the school district said in an email to The Washington Times.

According to the new deal, “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.”

The agreement – which goes into effect next spring – specifies a number of programs in which teachers “may be exempted from district-wide layoff outside of seniority order in order to remedy the effects of past discrimination,” and protects teachers who are “members of populations underrepresented among licensed teachers” in the school district.

Critics reacted to the stipulation which would seem to violate both the state and national constitutions, one of them was James Dickey, a senior trial attorney at the Minneapolis-based Upper Midwest Law Center.

“The school district and the union should be on notice that what they’ve done is illegal and is going to be struck down,” he said. “And frankly, it’s such an easy thing for them to fix, although I’m not sure if there’s any political will to do that.”

“Skin color has nothing to do with qualifications, nothing at all,” said Fox News contributor Leo Terrell who is black as well as a former teacher. “This is one of these equitable decisions which is a code for race-based decisions. I was a teacher for seven years, I never had a parent or student say ‘I want a black teacher, I want a white teacher.’ they want a skilled, experienced teacher…”

He added, “It’s unconstitutional, it’s discriminatory, it’s affirmative action which is illegal and it’s racist!”

Constitutional law expert Hans Bader suggested that the “race-based layoff provision” violates portions of the Civil Rights Act.

“When it comes to termination an employer can’t racially discriminate even against whites,” he wrote in an editorial for the website Liberty Unyielding. “The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1996 that a school district can’t consider race even as a tie-breaker, in deciding who to lay off, even to promote diversity.”

Republican Minnesota State Rep. Jeremy Munson slammed the deal, “The Minneapolis teachers Union has taken a racist approach and agreed to protect your job based on your skin color, over your job performance or seniority,’ he said, ‘I don’t know who needs to hear this, but racist employment contracts have no place in our society.”

“This is the extreme left Steve,” Terrell told Fox News’s Steve Doocy. “Critical Race Theory, decisions based on skin color, when you hear the term equity, that is a code for race-based decision and if you were a teacher who’s not black or a minority you’re being discriminated against and your recourse is the courthouse and you’re going to win.”

The union also defended the deal despite its racially discriminatory aspects.

“Students need educators who look like them and who they can relate to,” it said in a March statement in Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine. “This language gives us the ability to identify and address issues that contribute to a disproportionately high turnover of educators of color,” the Washington Times reported.

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