Teachers’ union agreement that white teachers must be fired first: ‘Constitutionally suspect’
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Agreement between Minneapolis Teachers Union and Minneapolis Public Schools that says white teachers will be fired before teachers of color, regardless of seniority, violates civil rights law, as well as Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, several critics warned.
“The first thing is that this contract violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause under the U.S. Constitution,” Heritage Foundation Fellow Jonathan Butcher told Fox News Digital. “It’s, I think, a political posturing. It’s not about the most important issue which is helping students right now with math and reading.”
“I think they should be looking for high quality teachers regardless of their skin color,” he added.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
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The agreement was reached earlier this year to end a two-week strike in the Minneapolis Public School District.
Historically, teacher furloughs and layoffs have been done on a first-in, last-out basis, and fellow Manhattan Institute associate Michael Hartney said the policy “doesn’t make sense either.”
Hartney noted that the unions have always been criticized for their first-in, last-out policy because it fails to take teachers’ effectiveness into account, but the new policy, prioritizing race, is “constitutionally suspect. “.
“They’re substituting a raw test of seniority for another raw test of race,” Hartney said.
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He also pointed to the irony of the union deal, pointing to a quote from a former national union president when, in the 1980s, a federal judge allowed a Boston school to fire white teachers first in order to to respect a requirement of racial balance.
Former president of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker, said that “it will be the first time in the history of the United States that a federal court, acting in the name of the Constitution, rules that the people must lose their employment on the basis of race”.
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Catrin Wigfall, a policy officer at Minnesota’s Center for the American Experiment think tank, said the policy spoke of a “laudable goal” but the approach was flawed.
“While increasing the number of teachers of color is a laudable goal, the firing provision in the Minneapolis teachers’ union agreement with the district is a political solution that is unlikely to hold up in court and will not is not good long-term policy,” she said. Fox News digital. “In fact, the whole last-in, first-out system should be abandoned, as it does a disservice to all young teachers who are excellent, qualified educators. The aim is laudable, but the approach is misplaced.”
Cristine Trooien, executive director of the Parents’ Alliance of Minnesota, criticized both the first-in, last-out system as well as the firing of teachers based on race.”
“When it comes to the staffing of our schools, there are two practices that virtually guarantee an erosion of the quality of instruction that every student deserves. [last-in, first-out] and using race as a basis for hiring and firing,” Trooien told Fox News Digital. “The adoption of any of these erroneous practices will undoubtedly result in a justified outcry from committed parents and excellent teachers. Both must be eliminated.”
“Academic performance in the Minneapolis School District is abysmal. It is easier for district leaders to attribute this continued failure to the lack of teachers of color than to confront the ineffective methodologies and curriculum used,” Trooien added. . “The reason children can’t read has nothing to do with the color of their teacher’s skin and everything to do with the instruction they get (or don’t get). It’s a bigger problem. Unfortunately for Minneapolis students, the only thing that will likely increase as a result of the MPS-teachers union settlement is the number of lawsuits that will be filed against the district for racist employment practices .”
Angela Morabito, spokeswoman for the Liberty Defense Institute, said the deal also violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the union should instead focus on improving reading skills .
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in any federally funded program or activity.
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“By accepting this contract, the Minnesota Department of Education violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Less than one in three minority 4th graders year in Minnesota can read at the grade level. If the union really cared about “fairness,” it would prioritize hiring the best and the brightest to solve this education crisis.”
While most school districts still use a first-in, last-out policy for layoffs, Butcher and Hartney said they wouldn’t be surprised if other teachers’ unions start changing their policies to reflect the Minneapolis accord.
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“To address the lingering effects of past discrimination, Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Teachers Federation (MFT) have mutually agreed to draft a contract to support the recruitment and retention of teachers from underrepresented groups relative to the labor market and the community served by the school district,” a spokesperson for Minneapolis Public Schools told Fox News Digital.
The Minneapolis Teachers’ Federation did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.