Tell MPS & SPPS: Safety and Educational Justice Now!
To the members of the Board of Education,
I write to you as an educator, parent/guardian or community member from Minneapolis or St. Paul public schools. Our districts serve mostly families of color who are facing two major pandemics right now, one new and one centuries old -- COVID-19 and racism. We need to ensure our schools are places that students, families and educators feel safe and affirmed, not scared or traumatized--no exceptions.
Rushing into hybrid learning too soon is unsafe for high-risk families and educators, particularly Black, brown and indigenous communities who are being hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19 infections. Battling COVID-19 will be a marathon - not a sprint - so we must work to make it sustainable for educators and families.
In order for distance learning to be safe and sustainable, I ask that district leadership in both Minneapolis and St. Paul prioritize the following:
Respect the voices of educators, many of whom are currently working 14-hour days, often in constant contact with families. District leadership must publicly negotiate with the unions representing educators over the issues that would allow them to best meet their students’ needs.
Honor front-line workers. ESP working emergency childcare are among the few district staff currently putting their lives at risk. These essential workers need hazard pay, safe staffing ratios, and voluntary work options to ensure full staffing.
Slow down any move to hybrid instruction until it can be done safely and equitably.
Advocate for and create the conditions for distance learning to be successful. Our families need fast, reliable internet now. We need instructional schedules that families understand and that fit the diversity of family schedules.
Publicly acknowledge and immediately address the decades-long underfunding of our school districts, which has allowed public education for Black, brown and indigenous students to suffer as the wealthiest 1 percent get richer.
With crises hitting our communities from each side, and with racism, hatred and potential violence expected to increase over the next few months in our country, you have the power to ensure that our school communities remain vigilant about protecting young people, their families, and the educators that serve them. I ask that you do everything in your power to make this a reality.