Unity Summit kicks off campaign for full funding

More than 500 Education Minnesota members attended the Unity Summit, Jan. 31-Feb. 2. The event served as a political conference and kickoff to the union’s full funding campaign which will focus on the election in November and 2021 legislative session.

“To deliver the schools our students deserve, and to raise the revenue we need to do it, our union has created a plan to build our strength and join with allies,” Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said.

The campaign is driven by the idea that through our democracy, and especially our union, we have the collective power to vote together for public education in 2020 and win full funding for our schools in 2021.

The 2020-21 Minnesota plan:

  1. Get out 100 percent of the educator vote for public education on Nov. 3, 2020.
  2. Collectively engage at least 33,000 parents and community voters in the election and beyond.
  3. Unite our co-workers and communities in a statewide movement for full funding of public education in the spring of 2021.

Moving forward, local unions and chapters will be organizing unity teams in each of their worksites. Those teams will engage other educators and their community around issues related to electing a pro-public education majority in the Minnesota Senate and holding that majority in the Minnesota House.

After the election, the plan is to push lawmakers to pass a budget that fully funds public education in 2021. This will include a campaign to raise the revenue from wealthy Minnesotans and corporations.

“This won’t be easy. When educators talk about fully funding public education, we’re talking about far more than $4.3 billion,” said Specht. “We need more mental professionals, pay raises for ESPs, money to stabilize the teacher workforce, more aid for higher education and many other things.”

The summit also included a public meeting with speakers from the West Virginia Education Association and Oakland Education Association, two unions who have taken collective action in support of schools and students as part of the #RedForEd movement.

The public meeting also included members of Education Minnesota sharing why they are in the fight for fully funding public education. Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman attended and were asked for a commitment to support us as we ask lawmakers to fund what schools and students need.

Both lawmakers did make a commitment to raising revenue and fully funding education.

Educators should look for actions in their local unions and worksites this spring, depending on the coronavirus response.

This campaign will be led by members, both in the locals and at the state level.

A unity table is being convened with members from around the state, who will be making decisions on work and support provided for the members implementing the campaign plan.

More information on this table and how they will be communicating with members will be shared in future issues of the Minnesota Educator.

Go to edmnvotes.org for information about the campaign, including social media graphics, information for worksite unity team members and resources on why education funding, education support professionals issues, school safety and mental health, teacher preparation and more are the cornerstones of our campaign.