Educators for Excellence-Minnesota Reacts to Tentative Agreement between St. Paul Federation of Educators and SPPS
March 16 (St. Paul) — Educators for Excellence-Minnesota (E4E-Minnesota), a teacher-led organization with more than 850 St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) union members, reacts to the tentative contract agreement:
“I’m relieved that a compromise was reached that includes changes that will positively impact students and teachers,” said Terry Wylie, a teacher at The Heights Community School and an E4E-Minnesota member. “And I’m proud that my colleagues and I centered this strike around our students’ needs. They deserve access to support from mental health professionals, multilingual teachers and assistants and educators who are trauma-informed, which are critical, not just to their academic success, but also to their social, emotional and mental health. As evidenced by the COVID pandemic, schools and educators are on the front lines of caring for our children and the broader community. We need to ensure we have strong public health and education systems, including more nurses in our schools.
“For the sake of our students and the St. Paul community, I’m glad union and district leadership reached an agreement swiftly,” said Madaline Edison, Executive Director of E4E-Minnesota. “It’s promising that the compromise included additional mental health supports, including more social workers, nurses, psychologists and intervention specialists, as well as additional multilingual staff members. We now need to ensure that these vital services, support and staffing are targeted toward students with greater need. The conversation about what students and educators need to ensure all students can succeed must continue well beyond this contract agreement.”
On charter schools, Edison said, “I am disappointed a charter school moratorium was part of the agreement. Talking with families who choose charter schools for their children, it’s clear that the school district has failed to meet the needs of all students. We need to take their desires seriously in improving practices in the district to incentivize those families to choose district schools. I hope that, going forward, the district and union can work productively to ensure all students have what they need to succeed, regardless of the kind of public school they attend.”
The Voices from the Classroom teacher survey, released on January 22, 2020, explores Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers’ perspectives on classroom resources, teacher compensation and circumstances under which they would consider striking. Key findings include:
- Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers on classroom resources and teacher compensation:
- Only 26% of Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers strongly agree that their school has enough physical health support staff, such as school nurses, to support their students' learning.
- Just 38% say it is very accurate that their schools have the materials they need for effective instruction. Similarly, 77% say inequitable access to classroom supplies and resources is a problem within their district.
- 64% report having worked a second job in order to make ends meet.
- Teachers overwhelmingly favor financial incentives for those teachers taking on leadership positions (93%), in hard-to-staff schools (90%) and specializing in hard-to-fill subjects (86%).
- The circumstances under which Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers who say they are “likely” to strike, including:
- Reduction in your retirement benefits or pension contribution (79%)
- Increase in class sizes (72%)
- Reduction in your benefits (non-retirement) (71%)
- Lack of support services for students (67%)
- Lack of resources (55%)
- Insufficient pay raise (53%)
The survey questionnaire was developed by 10 E4E member teachers from across the United States. The instrument was written and administered by Gotham Research Group, an independent research firm, and conducted online from November 4 through November 15, 2019, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 full-time, public school teachers and an additional sample of 60 teachers in Minneapolis and St. Paul.