School board members weighed into the minimum-wage debate this week, when all seven members of St. Paul’s Board of Education signed a letter urging state senators to help close achievement gaps in their district by supporting a substantial wage hike this session.
Louise Seeba, a board member and AFSCME Local 3757 member, spearheaded efforts to put the school board on record in support of raising the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015 and indexing it to keep up with inflation.
Click here to download a copy of the letter, provided by Seeba.
“We realize we are not legislators, but feel it is our charge to do whatever we can to help reduce learning gaps,” the letter reads.
Board members pointed lawmakers to several studies proving a link between families’ economic stability and their kids’ performance at school. Among them was a 2011 study by the Brookings Institution, which found gains of as little as $1,000 in annual income for low-income families resulted in significant improvements in their children’s reading and math scores.
Closing achievement gaps has long been a focus of teachers, board members and administrators in the St. Paul Public Schools, which typify the “large gaps” identified by Brookings “across groups of children defined by family income” when it comes to school readiness.
“As board members of the most diverse school district in the state and with over 25,000 students that qualify for free and reduced lunch, we feel compelled to address this vital issue,” board members said.
If lawmakers agree to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour, an estimated 20,000 workers in St. Paul would see a raise, according to an economic analysis by the JOBS NOW Coalition.
“We have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children,” board members said. “Please stand with us and support the increase in the minimum wage (indexed to inflation) to help stabilize families income and to improve learning readiness for students.”