Race-Based Layoff Scheme at Minneapolis Schools: Whites first

The text of the agreement, in a final disclaimer, states that "The Minneapolis Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race."

The city of Minneapolis has reached an agreement with teachers' unions in the public schools, which states that if layoffs are to be made, the first to go will have to be whites. The measure is part of what they call "protection of teachers of color." Minneapolis teachers were on strike for two weeks, and returned to the classroom after reaching an initial agreement. The terms were not made public at the time, but the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) said that: 

These deals are what 4,500 MFT members went on strike for. Details will be coming out shortly, but it is important to note that major gains were made on pay for (education support professionals), protection for educators of color, class size caps and mental health supports.

Race as a criteria

The agreement does not put it in these terms, but it is the conclusion of what the text says. Thus, the agreement reads as follows: "Starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle, 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." By "underrepresented population," the agreement refers to the "teachers of color" it seeks to protect. And those who do not fall under this rubric are white teachers. Conclusion: If there is to be a layoff, white teachers must be the first to go. 

This racist criteria for the dismissal of teachers is justified, according to the agreement, by the need to "remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination." And in particular because "past discrimination by the district disproportionately impacted the hiring of underrepresented teachers," referring to teachers of color. 

Against the Constitution

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial, recalls what Judge John Roberts famously said in 2007: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

As attorney Eugene Voloch reminds us, this provision "violates a well-known Supreme Court decision overturning the race-based layoff of a white teacher, and contradicts a well-known federal appeals court decision, which ruled that race-based layoffs of white teachers violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act."


The document called "Teacher Contract, Memoranda & Policies" ends with this disclaimer: "The Minneapolis Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex affectional preference, handicap, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, Vietnam era veteran status, and age in its educational programs or activities and complies with Title IX, of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and other applicable federal or state statutes and regulations relating to equality of opportunity."