SEIU MN State Council
Media Relations Coordinator
Apple Valley, Minn – On Wednesday, May 11, the White House will recognize twelve school support professionals from across the country, including Anna Angeles-Farris from Apple Valley, as “School Support White House Champions of Change.” These individuals were selected by the White House for their leadership and tireless work to ensure that students in our nation’s schools receive the support and motivation they need to be succeed.
Educators, including school support professionals, often go above and beyond to meet all of the needs of students so they can achieve success both inside and outside of the classroom. The White House set up the event to honor and celebrate the incredible work of school support professionals, who make up one-third of our nation’s education workforce. The program will feature remarks by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett.
Angeles-Farris is a member of SEIU Local 284, the union of school support staff in Minnesota, and will be heading to D.C. to accept the award. In selecting Angeles-Farris for this award, the White House released the following biography about why Angeles-Farris was selected.
As a custodian at Lakeville School District, Anna Angeles-Farris has seen first-hand the successes of early childhood education, and continues to advocate for additional support for such programs. Since 2005, Angeles-Farris has been integrally involved in the pre-kindergarten program, Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), and has been a member of the ECFE Council in Lakeville, Minnesota. A lifelong resident of Minnesota, Angeles-Farris’ grew up a child of migrant working parents. She passionately believes in the need for a strong, nurturing educational system that helps all students reach their full potential. In addition to a variety of civic activity, Angeles-Farris is an advocate for the arts and served as a member of the Lakeville Art Festival committee.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live/ on Wednesday, May 11, at 2:00 PM ET. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.
SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in public schools, hospitals, higher education, nursing homes, schools, in your homes and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of the approximately 53,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the five SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.
With our budget surplus, we should be investing in education, not talking about giving away our revenue in tax cuts for the wealthy. We need to ensure that every kid in Minnesota can experience the transformative power of a great education, regardless of background or ZIP code.
Investing in our families, through policies that support education from cradle to career, would help strengthen our state for all Minnesotans. We can and must fund education priorities to begin to roll back our state’s growing disparities.
How We Fix It:
Support funding so our university is one of the nation’s best public research universities. Learn more via MN Academics United
St. Paul – Faculty, staff, and students from the University of Minnesota showed up at the Capitol on Wednesday evening to talk to candidates for the U of MN Board of Regents about the importance of soliciting input from faculty and students. As Regents awaited the outcomes of their elections inside the House chamber, University faculty, staff and students gathered in the hallway under a large print-out of the University’s mission statement and made themselves available to speak with candidates. Faculty decided to invite Regents into dialogue after attending the Higher Education Committee hearing, which they felt revealed a troubling disconnect between Regent candidates and the people of the University they seek to govern.
Many in attendance stressed the U’s land grant tradition and encouraged the Regents to defend this legacy from various threats. Harry Boyte, a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute, observed that the land grant tradition means that universities are “owned by the whole people” and embody the idea of democratic excellence. At the heart of this idea is “that a diverse mix of people from many different backgrounds interacting and cooperating in learning and discovery can achieve greatness that a focus on individual stars and ‘the best and the brightest’ never can accomplish.”
This land grant tradition, argued Professor Karen-Sue Taussig, means that the U is not a business but a public trust. “I have become increasingly concerned that the administration and regents treat the U like just any other business rather than recognizing the distinctive public role the university plays in creating the kind of thoughtful, well-rounded and engaged educated citizenry that is essential to maintaining a vibrant democracy.”
The need to broadly educate citizens and serve an increasingly diverse populace was another recurring theme at the event. Student Alexandra Vagac noted that the U has a responsibility to provide a quality education to students regardless of their degree path. “When private dollars flood public education we begin to see situations like that of the Chicano and Latino/a Studies Department at the U, which is consistently underfunded compared to other ‘more profitable’ departments.” Echoing this point, Professor Irene Duranczyk observed that by “closing departments that embrace diversity” and that prepare Minnesotans to thrive in an increasingly diverse global society, “we are taking another step backward, away from our mission.”
In carrying out their duties, Professor Naomi Scheman emphasized that Regents should understand that they “are entrusted with the care of the University, and fulfilling that trust requires knowing about the history and the culture of the U and the complexities of the relationships with it and with diverse communities around the state, and protecting those relationships from being defined in narrowly economic terms.”
Faculty expressed hope that the conversations at the Capitol were just the first of many conversations with Regents. “Right now it seems to me that Regents mostly sit in rooms with administrators and digest reports and Powerpoint presentations designed to present a pre-packaged narrative about what’s happening at the U,” said Professor Teri Caraway. “Regents will carry out their public responsibilities more effectively if they actively solicit input from faculty and students about what is going on at the U.”
Faculty organized this event as part of their ongoing work to build a faculty union to increase faculty and employee voice in decision-making at the University of Minnesota.
U of MN Academics United is the faculty union forming to represent faculty and professional employees at the University of Minnesota. It is affiliated with SEIU Local 284, which represents over 7,000 education workers statewide, including the recently unionized adjunct faculty at Hamline University