Unmasking Inequities

An Equity-Centered Policy Approach to Education in Response to the Pandemic

January 2021

The pandemic has revealed and exacerbated inequities

Minnesota often ranks highly in high school graduation rates at the national level, but this is only true for white students. Our state has long been home to the worst racial disparities in education, health, housing and economic outcomes in the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified and intensified many of these disparities.

Educators crafted policy recommendations and are demanding that decision-makers prioritize educational equity

The conditions of the pandemic call for a new, radically equity-focused approach to learning environments, whether students are learning online or in-person. We call on school districts, state legislators, and teachers’ unions to:

  • Relentlessly prioritize school resources for those who need it most
  • Provide anti-racist social-emotional learning and mental health support to students most impacted
  • Prioritize teacher diversity during budget cuts by protecting teachers of color from layoffs and investing in critical teacher preparation programs that lead to an increase in teacher diversity

About the Teacher Action Team

In the fall of 2020, ten educators came together to craft an education policy platform that urgently addresses the widening academic opportunity gaps that students of color face in Minnesota. The team narrowed their ideas and anchored their recommendations in several shared values. At the forefront is equity which calls for making difficult budget decisions in our school districts to better serve students of color and those from low-income backgrounds, students with disabilities, and English language learners. The Teacher Action Team cohort works to ensure that their policy recommendations not only lead to a positive impact on students, but also that they are actionable, and excite a wide base of teachers.

Mariam Adam English Language Teacher, Anne Sullivan Community School

Pauline Cotton Special Education Teacher, Harrison High School

Kelly Caruth Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, St. Paul Public Schools

Dawna Diamon Special Education Teacher, MPS Metro Education Services

Justin Goldstein Math Teacher, North Community High School

Bernie Herberholt Autism Spectrum Disorder Teacher, Battle Creek Elementary

Thressa Johnson Pre-school Lead Teacher, Joyce Pre-school

Alexis Mann Special Education Teacher, Harrison High School

Meghan O’Donnell English Language Development teacher, Anne Sullivan Community School

Stephanie Shockley English Language Teacher and Differentiation Specialist, Justice Page Middle School