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Education Minnesota continues fight for racial equity

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In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Education Minnesota has recommitted to its work of being a part of fighting back racism in our communities and in systems, like public education and labor unions.

“This is a horrifying, senseless death that shows once again the racism that Black, brown and Indigenous Minnesotans live with every day,” President Denise Specht said the day after the murder. “We anticipate our students of color will experience trauma from this killing as they did with Philando Castile, Jamar Clark and too many other Black men who died in police custody. Educators will once again do our best to help our students through, but this must stop. We grieve for the family of Mr. Floyd today, but tomorrow it will be time to join together and rewrite the rules so everyone, with no exceptions, can thrive without fear, care for their families, have their voices heard, and their rights respected.”

Cultural competency

Education Minnesota’s four-part Cultural Competency training is now available to all members for free on the digital platform, LearnUpon.

In the training, participants are asked to look at equity work through the concentric circles of self, others and systems. The eight-hour training stresses the need for equity in society, the power of language to hurt and heal, and guided introspection about implicit biases. Participants leave with an action plan for improving their practice with students and their relationships with peers.

Becoming a more supportive and welcoming colleague and educator is not a cure-all for Minnesota’s teacher retention problem, racial equity issues or opportunity gap — but we believe it will help. As a union, we’re committed to real solutions.

Legislative action

Education Minnesota also signed on to legislation focusing on police reform and racial equity.

At the end of July, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned its second special session of the summer, after passing police accountability legislation led by the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) caucus.

While we are very disappointed that a number of proposals authored by the POCI caucus are not in the final legislation, this represents just a start in addressing the systemic racism in policing that has harmed Black and brown Minnesotans. Education Minnesota is committed to pushing for those necessary systems changes in future legislative sessions.

During the July special session, the Minnesota House also passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. Education Minnesota was proud to sign on in support of this resolution, calling it an important first step that rightly focuses the work of the Legislature around this crisis. As a union, we take our role in helping dismantle systemic racism in our public schools seriously.

Anti-racism resources for educators:

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