Eduardo Salgado Diaz is a dedicated 7th Grade ESL teacher at Andersen United Community School in Minneapolis, who was recently told by administrators at Andersen that they are not re-hiring him for next year. In the long-standing pattern of staff of color unfairly being pushed out of Minneapolis Public Schools, stories like this are an all-too familiar occurrence. Read more about Eduardo’s story in his own words below, and stand with him and other staff of color this Tuesday at 5pm: https://www.facebook.com/events/1901032760176615/
I first became a part of Minneapolis Public Schools in 1996 as a student and I remember going to Jefferson Elementary School to learn English. My life has led me in a variety of directions but I found myself teaching English to students who were just like me in the same school district where I was once a student. Unfortunately, I may not be a teacher with Minneapolis for much longer.
A list of staff for the following year was published and my name appeared on it. It is because of this list that I thought that I would be coming back to Andersen for the 2017-2018 school year. This was, however, not the case. I was told by my administrator several weeks ago that there were two possibilities for my future with MPS: The first option was to not be recommended for rehire, meaning that I will be blacklisted from a teaching position in MPS for the rest of my life. The second option was to resign, meaning I could potentially return in the future.
I was told that I was not making the progress that they expected to see in a second year teacher. I was made to feel inadequate, not good enough, and a bad educator. I found it odd that MPS advertises that it wants teachers who think differently and go above and beyond for students, yet they seem to get pushed out of the district at alarming rates.
The number is even greater when you analyze the number of teachers of color that were let go at Andersen over the last 10 years. At least 17 out of 62 or 27% of teachers let go were teachers of color. 27% may not sound like much, but considering that roughly 17% of the teachers at Andersen are teachers of color it does seem to happen at a higher rate than normal.
I do not mean to say that the reason I was let go was because of my skin color but I find it hard to think that MPS would want to get rid of a male, veteran, immigrant, natively bilingual Spanish speaker. I have flown in MEDEVAC UH 60 Black Hawk helicopters, been on food stamps, done geological research in Chile, been a teacher in Japan, and have had first-hand negative interactions with local police officers in which my citizenship was questioned. It is these experiences that I bring to the classroom in order to show students that someone that looks like them can be more than what they may be accustomed to seeing in mainstream media and understands what issues they may face in the future.
Students in my classroom have learned about me and I have learned about them. I have visited over 30 homes of students and eaten with their families at their dining table, listening to them speak about why they came to this country as well as the hopes they have for their students. I have responded to calls at night from parents asking to help them sign up for toys-for-tots because they know that I will help them. I have been intertwined with the Andersen community for a long time and will continue to be so out of the classroom. Students and their families shop at a store owned by my aunt, a restaurant owned by my uncle, and frequent other establishments owned by more of my family.
While this is my second year at Andersen, I was not always an ESL teacher. Last school year I was placed as the 6th-grade social studies teacher because my administrators needed someone who was natively bilingual in Spanish for their Spanish Model UN class. I found it odd that they would place someone who was not licensed in social studies to teach it but I did my duty and completed the mission as the Army had taught me. I worked hard as a social studies teacher my first year and then was excited to move to teaching ESL this school year.
This school year ended up being the first year that I actually taught what I was licensed for, and while as a new teacher I always have more to learn and improve on, I do believe that students benefited from having me as their teacher. I talked with them about their feelings during and after the presidential election. About how safe they felt about what they saw in the news regarding police and people of color. About racist comments they have heard from the outside regarding their religion or ethnic origin. I think it is harsh to judge me on my first year teaching the content area that I am licensed for and push me out of the school rather than allow me to continue developing as a teacher.
I believe that I have contributed to a positive environment for students as well as staff because of what I bring to the table. I wish to continue making more positive connections with students which is why I am asking the School Board to reconsider how staff is let go, especially when we need more teachers of color as well as positive male role models for students. I am committed to the Andersen community and want to be able to return as a teacher at Andersen next year. I know that the next few years will be tough but I want to make the school district that I went to as a child better for future students.
Eduardo’s story is not an anomaly. A Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request filed with the Minneapolis school district this year reveals that 62 probationary teachers have been released or resigned at Andersen school over the past 10 years, and 17 or 27.4% were teachers of color. Since only 17% of teachers at Andersen are currently people of color, this represents a disproportionate exclusion of teachers of color. Furthermore, of the 9 probationary teachers who were released or resigned so far this year, 4 or 44% of them were teachers of color, compared to about 24% of the probationary teachers at Andersen this year being teachers of color.
For a school district that says it is committed to racial equity, it is strange that teachers of color are consistently being disproportionately pushed out of the school district. In addition to being a dedicated teacher that is well respected by staff, students, and families, Eduardo is also the only Latino middle school teacher at a K-8 school where over 50% of the students are Latino. Andersen needs Eduardo and the district needs to stop disproportionately pushing out educators of color. Come to the school board this Tuesday April 18th at 5pm to stand with Eduardo and others as we urge the school board to do the right thing! Let Eduardo continue to teach at Andersen! https://www.facebook.com/events/1901032760176615/