The following is a the latest editon of the Leader Letter from Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernadeia H. Johnson.
Dear MPS partners and friends,
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) learned today that the
Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) petitioned the Bureau of Mediation
Services to close the negotiation sessions to the public.
I strongly disagree with MFT’s decision to shut the public out of these talks. As superintendent of schools, I represent all Minneapolis stakeholders in these negotiations—our students, parents, staff members, taxpayers and many others. I believe it is in the best interest of all to continue to keep the negotiations process and discussions transparent and open to the public.
I am particularly frustrated that most of the previous negotiation sessions have focused on issues that are not included in the teachers' contract. MFT has been discussing policy items that are not contract negotiable nor focused exclusively on teaching, such as The Power of Play and Parent, Family and Community Partnerships, in addition to ten other topics. MPS is focused on four key strategies that will help the district Shift to where we need to be to meet the learning needs of 21st century learners: staffing flexibility, teacher quality, strengthening high-priority schools and increased time for students and teachers.
In the past three meetings, both negotiating teams were finally focused on key issues that can be impacted through collective bargaining. It’s disappointing that MFT would want to close the meetings at a time when the real issues are finally being discussed. Negotiations have not broken down, they are just beginning. This call for mediation by the MFT only serves to block out the public from observing the process and having access to discussions that impact them.
MPS continues to be committed to keeping all stakeholders informed as collective bargaining moves forward with timely, complete and accurate information about the substance and implications of bargaining positions. Ultimately, this is about our students and I want you to know that I will fight for what I believe is right. I know that a vast majority of teachers also want to do what is best for their students. We need the union to be flexible and embrace innovation and creativity that will help accelerate student growth in this district.
Bernadeia H. Johnson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Do you think the negotiations should be kept open? Tell us in the comments section below.