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United With Teachers

Glen Stubbe/AP

It’s interesting how life works - infinite interconnected parts unknowingly, and sometimes knowingly, moving together in sync, shaping and manifesting our ideals and thus our reality.

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who called to ask what I knew about the teacher’s strike in Minneapolis. My editor is in Minneapolis. I know a little. My friend, knowing I’m publishing Viva’s Voice in August of this year, and knowing the book is inspired by my experience of being on the front lines of mi papi’s picket line, shared what she knew.

Learning why and how teachers have gone on strike in Minneapolis, headed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, is maddening and sad. Teachers and support staff want more pay, increased mental health support for students, and smaller class sizes. The district says it is dealing with large student disenrollment due to the pandemic and budget deficits.

Not unlike many public school districts throughout our country, teachers in Minneapolis can’t afford to subsidize their quality of life on a teacher’s salary alone - resulting in many teachers picking up additional work outside of school. This is unacceptable. How can we have a world-class education system when our teachers moonlight for extra cash

This is why I wrote Viva’s Voice. It’s important that we talk to our children early about issues that are unacceptable and share with them that there is something you can do to fix it. I hope books like Viva’s Voice will be in classrooms to begin to have those conversations.

As I was thinking about this issue, I couldn’t help but think of the children that can feel the energy of this movement and may not have an outlet to ask questions or better understand what’s occurring around them. Viva’s Voice can be used as that outlet. It can answer questions while spawning a hundred more. It can provide clarity on nuances to allow a child to formulate their own opinion on complex social issues.

But it shouldn’t be the only way they engage in dialogue. We need to challenge ourselves (talking to adults here) to better expand our ideals and house diverse thoughts, for our children. We’re more connected to each other, in ways we can’t begin to comprehend, than we would like to admit. It’s important that we lean on each other to push our passions and make right the things we find unacceptable in this world.

I support the teachers in Minneapolis! I know this is just the beginning of the teachers and worker strikes we will see in the near future. The pandemic has placed a bright spotlight on the horrendous worker conditions and pay of millions of people in this country. It’s about time.


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