Education Minnesota supports teacher layoff language that encourages workforce diversity while protecting due process

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota, March 12, 2021 – Education Minnesota supports new language governing teacher layoffs introduced Friday in the Minnesota House because it will accelerate racial diversity in the teaching corps while preserving due process rights. 

“Almost everyone wants to build public schools that prepare students to pursue their dreams, no matter what those students look like or where they are from,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “To do that, we need more teachers who look like the students they are teaching. We also need teachers who are empowered to advocate forcefully for their students without fear of punitive layoffs. The approach introduced today delivers on both goals.” 

The proposed change to state law would affect teachers who belong to underrepresented racial, ethnic or other cultural groups and are in their three-year probationary period. The bill would allow a committee of administrators and union officials to select up to 5 percent of the staff, who meet the criteria, and exempt them from layoffs and non-renewals for one or two years. 

“Education Minnesota continues to support due process protections, including tenure,” Specht said. “If this bill passes, there will continue to be clear, objective rules for staff reductions due to budget cuts. The existing protections from arbitrary layoffs based on age, union activity and because a teacher is at the high end of the salary schedule will remain.” 

Specht noted that changes to layoff language are a small part of the solution to the chronic shortage of teachers of color in Minnesota schools. She encouraged the Legislature to pass the Increase Teachers of Color Act, a comprehensive approach to building culturally responsive schools and ensuring students have access to effective and diverse teachers. 

About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.

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