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GOP candidates, including two former teachers, slam Minneapolis teachers union as strike enters eleventh day

Republican candidates slammed the Minneapolis teachers union’s “excessive demands” as the teacher strike extended into its eleventh day on Tuesday. 

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) announced Sunday that it had “shared its last, best and final [Education Support Professional] ESP offer with union leaders that underscores the district’s commitment to honoring the contributions ESPs make to our schools and students.” The offer includes 15.6% salary increases for ESPs on average over two years and $3.5 million to cover increased work hours for ESPs. “MPS is reaching beyond its financial means on behalf of our ESPs and will need to make more than $10 million in reductions for the next school year as a result,” the district said.

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Union officials rejected the offer Sunday night, demanding a minimum $35,000 annual salary for ESPs. Late Monday, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and ESPs posted photos of the strike, noting that it had entered its third week.

Jennifer Carnahan, widow to former Rep. Jim Hagedorn and former Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman, called on Minneapolis teachers to return to work in a statement exclusively provided to Fox News Digital.

“Every Minnesota child deserves a quality education,” Carnahan, a candidate for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, declared in the statement. “Unfortunately, children in Minneapolis are being denied an education due to a union’s excessive demands.”

Jennifer Carnahan (right) with her now-late husband, then-Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died in Feb. 2022.

“Minneapolis Public Schools have already offered more than they can afford, so it sadly appears no end is in sight,” the candidate added. “Financing these demands may very well result in resources being pulled from rural Minnesota. As a longtime advocate for southern Minnesota, as well as conservatives throughout the state, this union’s demands are not only appalling, but shortsighted and selfish.”

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“Elected officials across the state must reject these demands,” Carnahan concluded. “We cannot afford to set a precedent in which taxpayers are extorted by unions.”

“Students being denied an education due to a labor dispute shows the fundamental flaws in denying students school choice,” Jerry Evans, a GOP candidate for Illinois’ 11th Congressional District who worked as a music educator for 20 years, told Fox News Digital. “No child should be denied an education, and every child should be allowed to choose from the full range of educational opportunities.”

Jerry Evans

“As multiple studies have shown, that healthy competition improves outcomes for all students, in both public, charter, and private schools,” Evans claimed.

Tina Ramirez, a former high school teacher and president of Hardwired Global, a human rights organization that crafts anti-radicalism curricula for educators in the Middle East and elsewhere, condemned the strike as “unfair to students.”

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“As a teacher, I always understood that my job was about service and putting the education of my students first. All good teachers believe this,” Ramirez, who is running for Virginia state Senate in District 12, told Fox News Digital. “The unions were out of touch then and it’s only gotten worse as they’ve grown in power, and completely lost sight of the students.” 

Tina Ramirez, president and executive director of Hardwired Global, meeting with Iraqi kids in Iraq.

“This strike epitomizes how their political agenda has taken precedence over the education of our children,” she added. “It’s unfair to these students who’ve already been set back by the unnecessary shutdowns that the unions demanded during COVID to be deprived of the education they deserve because of a union power grab. It’s just wrong.”

While schools across the country have generally loosened restrictions as COVID-19 cases decreased, the union’s demands include COVID-19-related items, such as an “agreed-upon threshold of Covid [sic] cases for any learning transitions.”

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