MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul teachers, parents and community allies staged a walk-in Wednesday morning in support of public education.

The walk-in is part of a national movement, more than 800 schools in 30 cities across the country staged similar walk-ins.

The teachers and community members are pushing for a better way to fund public schools that will make sure every child gets a quality education.

Teachers for St. Paul Public Schools are planning to use the walk-ins as fuel for contract negotiations with the district.

These educators say they need more support to make sure every child has a chance to succeed.

“They are short staffed,” said Kevin Chavis, who took part in the walk-in. “They need more support, and the union is trying to change things to improve the dynamics for the students as well as the teachers.”

The teachers say they want counselors, nurses, a school psychologist and social workers in all of the buildings.

Denise Rodriquez, the president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, says additional staff is just one of the needs teachers will talk about during contract negotiations on Thursday.

This national fight to reclaim schools comes at a time when St. Paul schools are dealing with a system some say does not cater to low-income, working-class and communities of color.

“We need restorative practices to end the racial disparities,” Rodriquez said. “We need to address the racial inequality in suspensions.”

Rodriquez believes decision making power on how to deal with students needs to come from the individual schools, not higher-ups in the district.

“The people who know our students the best — the parents and the educators — they are the ones who should be making the decisions in the building instead of the decision being made at the district level for one size fits all,” Rodriquez said.

Some parents say they are concerned about the quality of education their kids are getting, and they also cringe at the thought of the recent rash of violence inside St. Paul Schools.

Parents and teachers say Wednesday’s united front is what’s needed to help kids achieve.

St. Paul Public Schools says negotiation teams have been working hard on a variety of issues.

Tentative agreements were reached on four proposals and there’s been positive movement on several others, the district says.

The union and district sit down for mediation sessions on Thursday.

Reg Chapman

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