Minneapolis schools, teachers union embark on high stakes hearts-and-minds campaigns

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Over the last decade negotiations between the district and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) have become increasingly fraught. So much so that the current contract, which expires June 30, was a year overdue in the negotiating.

The last two rounds of talks in particular have attracted an unusual amount of attention from both policymakers and the general public. In addition to changes sought by MPS brass, state and federal officials have demanded reforms the district can’t enact without union cooperation. And citizen groups have begun pushing for an end to the impasse.

Looming in the background is the specter of last fall’s strike by Chicago’s teachers, during which both sides scrambled to win the public’s support. Neither emerged a clear winner, nor was the settlement that ended the strike widely applauded.

Indeed, elected officials and labor leaders are engaged in similar debates in New York, Los Angeles and many more cities where education reform is a red-hot topic. Like those cities, Minneapolis has seen the emergence of several mayoral hopefuls who have declared themselves the “education candidate.”

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