Minneapolis school district DEFENDS plan to fire white teachers first

The district argued the policy would "remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

The Minneapolis teachers union ended their strike Minneapolis Public Schools  earlier this year, striking a deal as part of their new contract that in the event of lay offs or downsizing, white teachers would be terminated first, regardless of seniority.

After backlash against the racist termination practice, which is in clear violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which bars discrimination in employment on the basis of race, the school district has defended the new plans.

"To remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination," the district said in a statement on Tuesday, "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 district's policy takes the employee's race into consideration when deciding who to lay off instead of seniority, as is typically the case. Their reasoning is that this in some way remedies past discrimination.

"Starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle," the agreement reads, "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."

This effectively means a white teacher who has been around longer could be fired ahead of a newly hired teacher of color purely due to their race.

When Biden's Department of Agriculture proposed a plan to give grants and loans to black farmers ahead of white farmers for the sole purpose of righting past wrongs, a court struck it down. The court said that today's farmers should not be paying the price of the department's prior discrimination. In essence, the department is not allowed to discriminate now simply to make up for discrimination in the past.

Attorney Hans Bader explained that the Minneapolis policy violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which made it illegal for employers to discriminate based on race.

He pointed out that in 1996, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Taxman v. Board of Education of Piscataway that school districts can't lay teachers off based on race, even for "diversity" purposes.


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