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HomeCommunity“I Teach, I Care, Be Fair” Teachers and Supporters Rally at THHS

“I Teach, I Care, Be Fair” Teachers and Supporters Rally at THHS

The 300 or more community mem­bers, students and Lake Superior School District (LSSD) staff mem­bers gathered at Two Harbors High School on Tuesday evening in sup­port of LSSD teachers and their quest for a fair contract. Teachers in the district have been working with­out a contract since June 2023.

Signs that read, “Supporting Our Teachers Is Supporting Our Students”, “Education Cuts Nev­er Heal” and “Care For Educators Like They Care For Your Children” were visible throughout the crowd. I had the opportunity to talk with several people who came to make their presence felt and their voices heard. Gary and Luke, who are the grand­father and father of LSSD students, expressed their concern about los­ing good teachers if salary needs are not met. Luke stated, “The kids are the ones who will really lose out and I’m not sure that the adminis­tration appreciates that”.

A number of people expressed concern over the fact that teachers are leaving the profession for better paying jobs and better benefits in other districts or in the private sec­tor. One participant said, “As more teachers leave, it becomes more and more difficult to fill teaching posi­tions. A teacher from Minnehaha Elementary School said that when she started working for the district in 1995, there were 500 applicants for the teaching position that she ap­plied for. Now, districts have to beat the bushes in order to find qualified applicants to fill vacant positions.

One THHS student I spoke to said that she had just heard about the “cost of living” issue from one of her teachers. “I just started to hear about this,” she said. We aren’t hearing about this in class.”

Union officials from the district and from Education Minneso­ta spoke at Tuesday night’s rally. District teachers were encouraged to “seek a contract that respects what you do every day.” Education Minnesota represents 475 teach­ers from across the state with 86,000 members. The LSSD is apparently the last Local among neighboring districts to be work­ing without a contract. Teachers are asking for a 4.55% pay increase in 2024 and an additional 3.2% increase in 2025. If these requests are met, wage levels will be in line with what is being offered in most districts around the state. That be­ing said, teachers will still be mak­ing wages that are below the current cost of living. Minnesota Education President Denise Specht stated re­cently that “Teachers statewide are fired up. They know there’s an ed­ucator shortage in Minnesota, they know working conditions have be­come more challenging. And, they know that things can be better and they are taking a stand.”

The Lake Superior School Dis­trict has a $300,000,000 discre­tionary fund. Some of that money could be used to address the salary needs of teachers. The district leader­ship is apparently not ready to in­vest money from that fund to ade­quately compensate their teaching staff. The hope instead is to lobby the State Legislature for an increase in funding for education. While this is a noble goal, it continues to put LSSD’s frontline staff between a rock and a hard place.

On February 15th, teachers in Saint Paul will be voted on whether or not to authorize a strike. No one that I’ve spoken to from the LSSD teachers union wants to strike and, at present, this possibility is not un­der consideration. Here’s hoping that District officials will reach an agreement with district teachers.

Rick Evans
Rick Evans
My wife, Marsha Kinzer (a proud DEHS Greyhound, class of ‘77) introduced me to the North Shore on vacation in 2012. It became our regular escape when the stress of our careers in education became overwhelming, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the breathtaking scenery, the nice people, and “salad” containing Jell-o and marshmallows. So you can either blame or thank my loving wife for my being here, because when we needed to choose a retirement hometown, Marsha advocated hard for her beloved Duluth, and here we are, six months later. Yes, this will be my first northern Minnesota winter. Yes, I welcome thoughts and prayers. Government, public policy, and social justice weighed heavily in the curriculums I taught at the high school level over a thirty-eight year career. In addition, we were a laboratory school focused on critical thinking in conjunction with technical and scientific writing. So when I found myself adrift on the great ocean of retirement and spied a raft, I jumped at the chance to take up what I’d left behind…minus the bad teachers’ lounge coffee. My position at the NSJ allows me to combine my passions for government and writing, and it’s helping me to feel less out of touch in new surroundings. When I’m not being “Cubby” (Marsha’s favorite new nickname for this green reporter) I enjoy pointing at eagles and saying, “Look, honey. There’s an eagle.” I’ve had an active side hustle as a professional musician for almost as many years as Charlie Parr. As a guitarist/singer/songwriter, I graced the stages of clubs and festivals around southern Wisconsin, including an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. Should I even mention A Prairie Home Companion, or am I the only one here old enough to remember what that is? Look! An eagle!
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