Minnesotans support their schools and an honest look at history
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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Nov. 3, 2021 – Strong majorities of Minnesota voters on Tuesday supported their local school districts in levy referendums and rejected school board candidates that wanted to deny students access to the information and skills they will need to thrive in a multiracial Minnesota.
“Minnesotans know public schools are the key to preparing students for successful lives after high school and for teaching the lessons that will help them avoid the mistakes of our nation’s past,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “When voters were presented with a choice, they strongly favored raising their own taxes to pay for schools and rejected the angry voices that have disrupted school boards and threatened educators for the past five months.”
A preliminary analysis of the referendum campaigns advised by Education Minnesota found that about two-thirds of them passed, or 36 of 55 ballot questions in 34 districts. This included referendums that were approved after being rejected previously in many districts, including Eastern Carver County, Shakopee, Stillwater, Floodwood and Aitkin.
“When educators get out into their communities and share their stories about how a lack of resources affects the quality of education a community’s children receive, voters respond,” Specht said. “The educators who did that work deserve a lot of credit. It’s been an exhausting fall and the demands of campaigning made it worse. The Legislature needs to fix the structural problems in school funding so educators can focus on educating students without the distractions of referendum campaigns.”
Many candidates for Minnesota school boards followed the lead of Fox News and other big money groups in making the teaching of race and gender the focus of their campaigns. No slates of anti-equity candidates were elected in Minnesota on Tuesday and no school boards that had previously supported expanding racial justice in their districts were flipped.
“To prepare our students for the future, we need to teach them both the good and the bad of our state and national history. That includes giving students, when they’re old enough, the tools to explore and analyze race and racism in our society,” Specht said. “Voters generally rejected candidates who promised to ban those lessons and prevent students from developing the critical thinking skills they will need to live and lead in an even more multiracial, multicultural Minnesota.”
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.