SPPS educators strike for schools their students deserve

The nationwide wave of #RedForEd strikes made a big splash today in St. Paul.

The St. Paul Federation of Educators called the city’s first teacher strike in 74 years after negotiations with the St. Paul Public Schools on union contracts covering 3,800 teachers, education assistants and other professional staff broke down overnight.

This morning, union members picketed outside 50-plus school buildings. By afternoon, they had consolidated outside Global Arts Plus school, where they were joined by parents, students and other community supporters.

Together, they formed a sea of red as they marched into West 7th Street and toward the district’s headquarters, where the presidents of both major U.S. teachers’ unions led a fiery rally calling on district officials to start listening to its educators.

“You give whatever it takes for your students to succeed, but you have a superintendent who tells you what you’re asking is too much,” National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia told union members. “Has that man ever told you you should hold back from your kids? Absolutely not.”

The teacher-led #RedForEd movement, fighting to reverse decades of disinvestment in public schools and the people who staff them, has sparked strikes across the country in recent years. Last year alone, some 237,400 educators joined strikes in North Carolina, West Virginia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Kentucky and Oregon, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

And now educators are striking in St. Paul, fighting for their student-centered contract demands. The union wants mental-health supports in every SPPS school, more support for multilingual families and special-ed teachers, and additional investments in restorative practices.

“I know all of you would rather be in school with your kids,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said at today’s rally. “But we are in the streets … and we’ve been in the streets for the last two years.

“Teachers, educators want what children need. You wouldn’t be fighting if you didn’t believe that.”

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Teachers will be back in the streets tomorrow, when the district plans to cancel classes for a second consecutive day. After picketing at school sites in the morning, SPFE will hold a rally and march beginning in Rice Park at 1 p.m. The union welcomes all supporters to attend.

“Tomorrow we’re going to be back on the picket line,” SPFE President Nick Faber said. “We’re going to be out there until we get … a contract that gives our students the support they need.”

Additionally, union leaders are asking supporters to email members of the school board and urge them to work with educators to reach a settlement.

 

The union also has put together a list of resources for parents and families impacted by the school closures, and is updating the list regularly.

Trackbacks

  1. […] public support poured in for the 3,600 members of the St. Paul Federation of Educators, who went on strike Tuesday morning to demand the district take action on their student-centered contract […]

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