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AT ISSUE: Jeff Martin, President of the St. Paul Branch of the NAACP Sends Letter to the State Concerning the St. Paul Schools
February 18, 2014
Dr. Brenda Cassellius BY EMAIL ONLY
Minnesota Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, Minnesota 55113-4266
Dear Dr. Cassellius:
I am writing on behalf of the St. Paul NAACP to respectfully request that you and the Governor’s Office take whatever steps are available to you to help resolve the escalating labor conflict in the St. Paul Public Schools.
As you are no doubt aware, the past week has seen a number of actions by each party to this dispute that arguably are pushing the parties further from a long-term resolution and closer to a catastrophic work stoppage and closure of the schools. We are asking the State of Minnesota, through the Commissioner of Education and Governor’s Office, to step in before things go from bad to worse in the St. Paul schools. We already have too many children falling behind and not getting what they need. Forcing them out of school will only exacerbate an already critical situation for our children.
We write to you because the state is ultimately responsible to educate our children and is in many ways responsible for conditions leading to this impasse. While recent funding increases and flexibility in levy powers are an important step in the right direction, the schools are still underfunded. The boundaries drawn around the St. Paul district make it difficult to undo historic patterns of racial and socioeconomic segregation. These two issues, among others, compound the challenges for the teachers and the district in reaching an agreement.
To be clear, the St. Paul NAACP does not take sides in the labor dispute. We support the rights of the teachers to organize and work to protect their important interests. We support the district to the extent it continues to focus on improving the education of all children attending St. Paul schools. Our primary concern is with the schoolchildren, particularly the many thousands who are currently not receiving an adequate education.
We are happy to meet to discuss this matter in more detail. We look forward to your response.
Very truly yours,
President, St. Paul NAACP
cc: Governor Mark Dayton (by fax only)
Valeria Silva, Superintendent, St. Paul Public Schools (by email only)
Mary Cathryn Ricker, President, St. Paul Federation of Teachers (by email only)
William Moore, St. Paul NAACP Education Chair (by email only)
Jim Hilbert, St. Paul NAACP Executive Board (by email only)