The Hopkins Education Association and their school board became the first district in the state to pass a partnership plan, calling for the state to fully fund education.
The resolution that passed unanimously by the local union’s governing board and the school board states:
“Be it resolved that the Hopkins School Board, in partnership with Hopkins Education Association, calls on the governor and Minnesota’s Legislature to either remove or fund any and all unfunded mandates and find the courage and the political will to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent and largest corporations and fully fund all aspects of Minnesota’s public schools so all students can receive the opportunities and supports they deserve.”
Hopkins Education Association President Paula Klinger said she knew she wanted to do something this legislative session to urge lawmakers to invest more in education.
“They don’t realize how hurtful this lack of funding has been to public education,” Klinger said. “The opportunities my children had when they were in school and the costs to us as a family were so very different. The costs to families now means they are budgeting to participate in activities like sports, music, theater and even some classes.”
Klinger said she knew the school board was also concerned with the costs of unfunded mandates on schools from the state, as well as funding not keeping up with inflation. She approached one of the members to present an idea she and Adam Janiak, the Education Minnesota field staff who supports Hopkins, had created.
“We wanted a sign of unity to push this idea of full funding,” Klinger said.
Before submitting the resolution for the school board’s agenda, Klinger was invited by the board’s member to attend the meeting of the Legislative Action Coalition. The board and LAC already had passed their own legislative platform, so they suggested some edits to the resolution, but worked collaboratively with Klinger.
They included items highlighting how the state’s funding shortfalls have affected Hopkins students and staff, including, “Whereas, in 2003, the state made significant changes in how Minnesota funds schools so that total real per-pupil state aid is $503 less per student now than it was in 2003, costing the Hopkins School District nearly $3.4 million in the 2020-21 school year.”
Klinger presented a letter to the board stating the intent of the partnership plan and why the teachers wanted to bring it to the board.
It was put on the board’s agenda for March 2 and passed unanimously.
“We were joined this year by the HEA, which has come to us with a proposed resolution,” said Steve Adams, the board director who worked with Klinger, during the board meeting March 2. “I urge us to pass it.”
Board Chair Jennifer Bourchard also shared her excitement in the partnership between the union and the board on the resolution.
“I was personally really excited to receive this email from our HEA president with this resolution, because it speaks to first, the commitment of our Hopkins educators to really get behind this advocacy effort, and if we can team up as people who care about public education in this state,” Bourchard said during the meeting. “Because obviously, we care deeply about what happens in Hopkins but it’s a moral and ethical and economic imperative to fully fund public education across our state. Anyone who has done advocacy work in any realm knows there is power in numbers.”
With the resolution passed, Klinger is now working with her members to contact their legislators with the information or attend the local’s April lobby day.
To continue and expand on this project, Klinger is hopeful that Adams will bring the resolution to other members of the Minnesota School Boards Association and, with further help and support from Janiak and Education Minnesota Organizer Sarah Derdoski, created a petition for all members to sign, asking them to pledge to work together to fully fund schools.
“When we contact our legislators and attend the lobby day, we will have the resolution and petition as clear demonstration that we are united, labor and management, in our message that our students, our families, our schools and our society absolutely require the attention of our legislators to act to fully fund our schools,” she said.
Learn more about how your local can take action by signing our statewide petition or working with your school board members to pass a resolution at www.edmnvotes.org.
Education Minnesota has developed sample school board language, but locals can work with their field staff and organizers to create one that fits their local.
The statewide petition asks Minnesota legislators and Gov. Tim Walz to stave off any cuts to school funding, address the disruptions to education caused by COVID-19 and start making strategic investments to fully funding welcoming schools that work for everyone. Share the public petition with your colleagues, friends, family and on your social networks.
Also watch Education Minnesota’s website and social media channels for information about an outside, socially-distanced rally May 15 to call for fully funding education ahead of the last week of the legislative session,