A Minneapolis teacher weighs the cost of battling the white education hierarchy—and her own union.

Becky Dernbach:

The announcement went out to media outlets and school staff in the predawn hours of Friday, March 25: The three-week Minneapolis teachers strike was nearly over. District officials had reached a tentative deal with the union. The union hailed the “historic agreements” and “major gains.”

At a press conference at district headquarters a few hours later, school officials seemed elated to welcome students back to class. 

But a few miles away, at the Get Down Coffee Company near Patrick Henry High School, English teacher Nafeesah Muhammad and some of her Henry colleagues had a different story to tell about the strike. 

I joined the Henry teachers in a circle of couches at the coffee shop. Brightly colored records lined the walls, and R&B played from the loudspeakers.