Teachers in Minneapolis went on strike Tuesday morning, shuttering classrooms for about 30,000 public school students.
For weeks, the teachers’ union and school district officials have been negotiating over salaries, hiring and resources for students’ mental health. The talks in Minneapolis failed to reach a resolution by their Monday evening deadline, with the district saying it could not afford to meet teachers’ demands.
Megan Peterson, a first-grade teacher, demonstrated in southern Minneapolis on Tuesday morning while her son, a first-grader, stayed home with her husband.
“It is not something any of us want to be doing right now,” she said.
“But this is important for me as a parent,” she added. “This is important for me as a teacher. And it’s important for me, as a resident of Minneapolis, for me to make sure my kids are taken care of.”
In a statement on Monday evening, the district said it “would remain at the mediation table nonstop in an effort to reduce the length and impact of this strike.”
In St. Paul, the schools were open on Tuesday. A teachers’ strike was averted after the union there, the Saint Paul Federation of Educators, reached a tentative agreement with Saint Paul Public Schools on Monday night.
“I believe we have arrived at fair and equitable agreements that respect our collective desire to do right by our students,” the superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools, Joe Gothard, said in a statement, “while working within the district’s budget and enrollment limitations.”
Students in the Twin Cities have already faced pandemic-related disruptions this year. In January, students in Minneapolis learned remotely for two weeks because of staff shortages related to the coronavirus. In St. Paul, some schools also returned to virtual learning for days at a time.
As schools across the United States returned from winter break during the Omicron surge, many teachers’ unions raised concerns about understaffing because of illness, and shortages of masks and tests. In Chicago, home to the country’s third-largest school district, a week of classes were canceled after teachers’ union members argued that classrooms were unsafe. Schools reopened after a deal was announced on Jan. 10.
But pandemic-related issues have not been the sole source of disagreement between the Minneapolis teachers’ union and the school district.
Members of the union have asked …….