Even being on vacation over the last week, I watched with concern the news about developing strikes among educators and school districts in the Twin Cities. Now we are in the fourth day of the Minneapolis teachers strike, with no sign yet of a breakthrough in negotiations. (Here’s a helpful news summary of the issues at stake.) I’m mindful of teachers I know, and of Minneapolis families with children at Edina Morningside Church who are adapting—yet again—to make sure kids are safely cared for throughout the workday.
People of faith advocate for strong education whether we have children or not, and faithful care for young people is what led my church to create Edina Morningside Preschool decades ago. We value quality education that develops the creative “divine image” in each person, just compensation that allows people of all professions to thrive, and schools that fully include all our neighbors. A religious ethic that welcomes “no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey” seeks schools that likewise fully include youth of all races and family income levels, new immigrant neighbors, those newly learning English, and children needing special education help. We also realize that negative classroom conditions and educational outcomes now are the result of a decades-long trend of reducing support for public education in favor of privatization. This stems from a sinful tendency to care for “mine alone” rather than trust Christ’s call to love your neighbor as yourself. Instead, we know that there is enough in God’s abundance for the needs of all, and that sharing by all will mean scarcity for none. The most just and loving solutions lie in a renewed community ethic that we are better off together, and in practices that build up the common good with common wealth, given by God for the benefit of all.
I believe people of good will on all sides of this strike in Minneapolis do seek a just resolution in this unsustainable situation. On Sunday my congregation will pray for their efforts, as well as for all educators, administrators, staff, families, and children who are affected in Minneapolis. As a way emerges through this impasse, we will measure the results by how well they care for those with little prestige, power, wealth and influence—the “least of these” where Christ told disciples that he himself would be found.