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Former Republican candidate for Minnesota governor compares new public school policy to Jim Crow

A former candidate for Minnesota governor compared the deal between the Minneapolis public schools and teachers union – which promotes laying off white teachers ahead of those of color – to racist Jim Crow-era laws.

Former Republican candidate Kendall Qualls called the deal ‘repugnant’ on Fox and Friends this morning, characterizing it as ‘unamerican.’

‘It’s just repugnant,’ Qualls, who is black, said, ‘You it you think about the discrimination that we faced in this country back in the 50’s and 60’s, it was wrong then. It’s wrong now regardless of who is the victim it’s wrong. And we shouldn’t stand for it as a country.’

The deal was struck between Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers union after a two week strike spearheaded by union president Greta Callahan last spring. 

It states that instead of teacher layoffs or relocations being decided based on seniority – as is typical – schools can ignore that protocol and dismiss senior staff members if otherwise a teacher of color would be laid off.

Also speaking on Fox and Friends was Kofi Montzka, a Minnesota attorney who is also black. She said the new policy would only foster more discrimination.

‘You cannot solve past discrimination with more discrimination. Racism in and of itself is evil, it’s wrong, and it’s illegal,’ Montzka said, ‘These policies, no matter what their intent, make it look like we are stupid and dumb and we can’t compete in the marketplace, and make people more racist and life harder for me and my kids and people who look like me.’

Kendall also pointed out the policy closely reflected ideas in author Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist, which Qualls said calls for new and future discrimination to make up for past discrimination.

‘It’s an infinity Loop of evil, it’s unamerican, and it’s really in a place where get no forgiveness. Any forgiveness at all,’ Qualls said, ‘That’s not what we stand for as a country and we need to fight back against it.’

Former Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota Kendall Qualls (left) called school board and teachers union the deal ‘repugnant’ on Fox and Friends this morning. Attorney Kofi Montzka (left) also spoke out against the agreement

Qualls’ and Montzka’s comments as the the Minneapolis school board defended the new deal, which it said was being used to ‘remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination.’

‘Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) mutually agreed to contract language that aims to support the recruitment and retention of teachers from underrepresented groups as compared to the labor market and to the community served by the school district,’ it said in a statement to the Washington Times.  

Many have called the deal unconstitutional, and accused it of addressing past racism with more racism.

It reads: ‘If excessing a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the site, the district shall excess the next least senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population.’

The prioritizing of teachers of color over senior educators may also apply to re-hiring after layoff.

Minneapolis Public Schools defends its upcoming contract that promotes laying off white teachers over teachers of color. It said it is a 'remedy to the continuing effects of past discrimination'

Minneapolis Public Schools defends its upcoming contract that promotes laying off white teachers over teachers of color. It said it is a ‘remedy to the continuing effects of past discrimination’

A new contract between public schools and the teachers' union in the city of Minneapolis is causing outrage because it may see white teachers laid off at the expense of teachers of color

A new contract between public schools and the teachers’ union in the city of Minneapolis is causing outrage because it may see white teachers laid off at the expense of teachers of color

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers President Greta Callahan

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers President Greta Callahan

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers President Greta Callahan (third from left)  posed for a photo with far left Representative Ilhan Omar, along with fellow squad members Rashida Tliab, Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush while supporting Omar's nearly ill-fated primary bid last week

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers President Greta Callahan (third from left)  posed for a photo with far left Representative Ilhan Omar, along with fellow squad members Rashida Tliab, Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush while supporting Omar’s nearly ill-fated primary bid last week

The move was met with a swift backlash, with an economics professor branding it ‘racism in action.’ 

Constitutional Lawyer Hans Bader characterized the deal as unconstitutional in an editorial in Liberty Unyielding on Sunday, saying the ‘race-based layoff provision’ violated portions of the Civil Rights Act.  

‘When it comes to termination an employer can’t racially discriminate even against whites,’ Bader wrote, ‘The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1996 that a school district can’t consider race even as a tie-breaker, in deciding who to lay off, even to promote diversity.’

Republicans representative to the Minnesota House of Representatives Jeremy Munson said on Facebook that while he was never a supporter of protecting employees exclusively based on seniority, the union’s deal was ‘racist.’  

‘The Minneapolis teachers Union has taken a racist approach and agreed to protect your job based on your skin color, over your job performance or seniority,’ he wrote, ‘I don’t know who needs to hear this, but racist employment contracts have no place in our society.’

In the comments on Munson’s post one user quipped, ‘Sounds like discrimination lawsuits are on the horizon.’

Other users on social media said they were inflamed and unsettled by the deal, with one saying it ‘did not sit well with me.’

‘All I can say is wow. All of my teacher friends, how does this sit with you?’ wrote Anthony Dunne in a Facebook post, ‘Looking from the outside in, this does not sit well with me. We are hiring and firing based upon skin color. So in my simplified view point, fighting past racism with new racism.’

Dinah Salman warned teachers in a Facebook post that Minneapolis schools would not protect them no matter how long they’d been teaching in the system.    

‘If you’re white, and you work in the Minneapolis public schools, know that your Union will not protect you from layoffs in spite of your seniority,’ she wrote, ‘This is racism. It’s also unconstitutional.’

The contract states: ‘The District shall deprioritize the more senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population, in order to recall a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers.’

Both school district and teachers’ union leaders say this makes the city one of the only in the country that does what’s called ‘seniority-disrupting.’  

The agreement could prove important very soon, given that the district is likely to cut jobs because of budget reductions due to lower enrollments, according to ABC News 4.  

The new contract also calls for the development of ‘anti-bias, anti-racist’ staff advisory councils.  

They are supposed to focus, according to the contract, on: ‘reducing inequitable practices and behaviors in our learning places and spaces as well as supporting educators, specifically educators of color, in navigating and disrupting our district as a predominantly white institution.’ 

The stipulation was first hinted at back in March when an agreement was struck, citing the fact that most senior teachers in Minneapolis are majority white and people of color were typically the first on the chopping block when layoffs happened. 

The deal that ended the Minneapolis’ teachers strike in March 

The contract that ended a two-week strike was initially agreed to in March, according to MPR News.

At the time, union leaders called the contract ‘historic’ and cited gains for education support professionals, caps on class sizes, more nurses in schools and mental health professionals. 

The deal brought hourly pay to $19 per hour for the lowest paid education support professionals, a raise of about $4 per hour and $11,000 a year. 

The new deal also included double the number of nurses and counselors in elementary schools as well as a social worker in every building.

Union reps told MPR News at the time that this protected about ‘half’ of the teachers of color in the district.  

Some conservative activists were outraged, including public school reform activist Christopher Rufo.

He tweeted: ‘This is the inevitable endpoint of “equity.”‘ 

On Fox News’ Hannity Monday night, contributors Leo Terrell and Clay Travis both hammered the agreement. 

Terrell, a civil rights attorney who is black, said: ‘It’s racist. It’s discriminatory, it’s illegal. It should be invalidated immediately. I read what the union says. They said they want students to have teachers that look like them. Wrong. The students need teachers who will educate them. Educate. Not what they look like!’

Sportswriter Travis, who runs the website Outkick the Coverage, agreed: ‘Yeah, of course it would. And I agree with everything Leo said. Look, the foundation of the Democrat party now is two things, Sean. It is everything is racist, and America is an awful place. That is basically everything that the Democrats believe, and if you drill down essentially every policy that they advocate for, that’s what it is at its essence’.

Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also criticized the deal, tweeting: ‘This is racist. This is illegal. This is another example of why government unions should be eliminated’.

The 1776 Project Pac, a conservative political action committee, called the agreement: ‘Breathtakingly racist and outright unconstitutional.’

Mark J. Perry called it: ‘Racism in action’. 

A spokesperson for the school district said: ‘To remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination, Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) mutually agreed to contract language that aims to support the recruitment and retention of teachers from underrepresented groups as compared to the labor market and to the community served by the school district.’ 

It’s the latest instance of teachers’ unions espousing left wing ideals in education.

The AFT and the NEA have both endorsed the controversial 1619 project for inclusion in school curriculum. The project which had its inception as a New York Times opus was hailed a ‘corrective history’ of slavery in America. But it has been fraught with criticism for ignoring facts in favor of a revisionist narrative that skews left. 

Meanwhile, though the official stance of Randi Weingarten – president of the American Federation of Teachers labor union – is that Critical Race Theory is not taught in classrooms, she recently pushed back against parents who spoke out against it. Yet a myriad of reports suggests that those parents’ fears that it has seeped into classrooms are well founded.

In Buffalo, New York, students are told that ‘all white people’ perpetuate systemic racism. The Arizona Department of Education has created an ‘equity’ toolkit which claims that babies show the first signs of racism at three months old and that white children become full blown racists at five.

President of the American Federation of Teachers labor union Randi Weingarten often mixes with Democratic politicians. Then-Senator Kamala Harris appeared with her at the AFT's 2019 conference

President of the American Federation of Teachers labor union Randi Weingarten often mixes with Democratic politicians. Then-Senator Kamala Harris appeared with her at the AFT’s 2019 conference

Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers labor union, was with then-candidate Joe Biden at a town hall in Houston as part of his presidential election campaign

Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers labor union, was with then-candidate Joe Biden at a town hall in Houston as part of his presidential election campaign

Weingarten was the first union boss to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016. Clinton announced her candidacy to the Senate at the United Federation of Teachers – which Weingarten then headed – in 1999

Weingarten was the first union boss to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016. Clinton announced her candidacy to the Senate at the United Federation of Teachers – which Weingarten then headed – in 1999

Weingarten campaigned for progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren in 2019 as the Massachusetts senator vied for the Democratic presidential nomination

Weingarten campaigned for progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren in 2019 as the Massachusetts senator vied for the Democratic presidential nomination

In Cupertino, California, third graders are asked to deconstruct their racial identities and rank themselves according to their ‘power and privilege.’

The principal of a school in New York City sent white parents a ‘tool for action’ which tells them they must become ‘white traitors’ and advocate for ‘white abolition.’

And in Seattle there are training sessions for teachers in which schools were deemed guilty of ‘spirit murder’ against black children.

All these notions are central to CRT as presented by radical proponents Bettina Love and Ibram X. Kendi. In its latest handbook for a return to school post COVID the Department of Education included a link to Love’s Abolitionist Teaching Network’s Guide to Racial and Restorative Justice, a work that accuses white teachers of the ‘spirit murder’ of minority children and advocates for all white teachers to be given ‘anti-racist therapy.’

Who is Greta Callahan, president of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers?

Greta Callahan has been president of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers union since 2020. Prior to that she served as the recording secretary to the union during her career as a kindergarten teacher. 

She taught kindergarten for nine years in Minneapolis public schools before becoming union president, including spending seven at one of the city’s poorest schools, the Bethune Community School.

In 2014 she wrote a sharp rebuke of a Star Tribune report which found Minneapolis had the ‘worst teachers in poorest schools.’ 

In her article she described in harrowing detail the day-to-day of a teacher in a Bethune classroom, which she characterized as being ‘in the trenches,’ and talked about having gone to the emergency room for injuries sustained by her five-year-old students. 

She also mocked the data driven metrics the school system used to measure the quality of teachers in the report, and advocated for a more realistic approach.

She was elected president of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers in May, 2020. In May of 2022 she was re-elected and won 82 percent of the vote.

Callahan led the teachers union into its March 2022 strike. She helped negotiate the deal which secured higher wages for teachers, class-size caps, mental health support for school staff and students, and the controversial protections for teachers of color.

In July 2022 Callahan endorsed Rep. Ilhan Omar for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district primary, calling her ‘the choice for supporters of public schools.’


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