Last year the St. Paul Federation of teachers knew their school district was basically broke, so they developed a novel strategy for getting more money into the coffers. Key to that strategy was to conduct a shame campaign against a totally unrelated group – large nonprofits and corporations.
Their rallying message was simple. “We could have much better schools if you bad, bad people would just pay your fair share in taxes.”
True to Minnesota custom, the teachers started their campaign with a more cordial tone. They asked the corporate and mega-nonprofit patsies to sit and talk about the union’s proposed cash grab:
The abundance of large nonprofits in St. Paul – combined with development deals that shield large corporations like US Bank and Wells Fargo from property taxes – restricts the revenue St. Paul’s school district can collect. But rather than throwing their hands up in frustration, Stinson and other members of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers are reaching out to corporations and large non-profits to discuss ways they could voluntarily pay the city and the district for services they expect, from police and fire to public schools.
That had the sound of 1940’s crime films where robbers bust into a bank as say “ok folks, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way.”
I pointed out at the time the bothersome fact that Minnesota’s corporate community prizes social responsibility and they give a butt-ton of dollars to both Twin Cities school districts, no questions asked.
But, the St. Paul teachers, desperate to be a Skandasotan approximation of the Chicago Teachers Union, pulled out their bullhorns and started blasting our greedy business leaders.
The union looked silly and most people were turned off by their public histrionics, but, in the end, the school district promised to facilitate a more professional shakedown of their external stakeholders.
I’m reading articles about this effort for a blog post that I’m writing (stay tuned) about the SPFT, but I had to share this tidbit from one of their teachers quoted in local news reports talking about her union’s shame campaign:
Schools and nonprofits are able to attract top talent to Minnesota in part because of the reputation of our public school systems,” said Erica Schatzlein, a teacher at Nokomis Montessori who took part in the union’s meeting with St. Kate’s. “People want to work in a community that is also a good place to raise a family.
I share it because this teacher works at an integrated school where 33% of the students are proficient in reading and 38% in math.
Ms. Shatzlein should know that when Minnesota companies attract top talent to our state realtors promptly place them in suburbs where the schools do better than hers.
It must have slipped her mind. The commission of robbery tends to do that.