A Message from President VanDassor
In our most recent bargaining session, this time in mediation, the SPPS bargaining representatives shared two major takeaway proposals. Despite months of bargaining where SPPS shared dozens of mostly minor proposals, the district bargaining team waited until December to present proposals to eliminate our hard-fought class size cap language and our mental health protections.
Their proposals were dated in October and November but only shared with us once the district requested mediation, meaning our sessions are closed to the public and our Contract Action Team.
These are just two of what is now more than 20 takeaways the district is pushing, including eliminating recess, equal paychecks, and the insurance benefit for married couples who both work in SPPS. This is an attack on the gains we’ve made for students and educators over the years, and an attack on our students and our schools.
In our historic 2020 strike, we won advances for our students and our educators, including increased student mental health supports. Our student mental health demands were important then and they are important now as we are still experiencing the global COVID pandemic that continues to spread through our communities.
After two years in a pandemic, our students and families are facing the additional trauma of losing loved ones to COVID, of families working on the front lines, and the disruption of schools going from in-person to remote and back to in-person, along with the fear of getting sick themselves.
This is not the time for cuts to our schools. This is not the time for barebones services for our students and parents in SPPS. The federal government has acknowledged the devastation the pandemic has caused and in response is giving schools across SPPS $206 million in American Rescue Plan funds. With additional resources coming in, why is our district pushing cuts? Why won’t our district also acknowledge that now is the time to invest in our schools? Why can’t they acknowledge the hard work we’re all doing?
Imagine the schools St. Paul students deserve- smaller class sizes, mental health teams at every school, more multilingual education aids and more BIPOC educators with support and training for all educators will put us on the path towards our goal of fully supporting students.
SPFE has remained constant in our fight for the schools Saint Paul Students Deserve and have made progress in our most recent contract fights. We will not go backwards. We must continue to stand up for public education. The stakes are too high for our students and our communities.
On Thursday, we will be doing walk-ins at schools across the district. Let’s send a message to administration that their takeaway demands are unacceptable and a slap in the face to educators, students and families who braved the pandemic and come together to continue to build relationships, teach and learn. Thursday is an opportunity to show our unity and power to the district as they try to weaken our contract and our rights as educators.