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Former MPS teacher strikes in solidarity with her daughter, a current MPS teacher

Fifty-two years after asking for better working conditions in the 1970 Minneapolis Public Schools strike, a woman is striking again, but this time for her daughter.

MINNEAPOLIS — It's day two of the Minneapolis teacher strike and as nearly 30,000 students stayed home, teachers, staff and other educators picketed outside of their schools and the State Capitol.

Former Bancroft Elementary School teacher Laurel Erickson didn't think she'd be out here again, chanting and picketing.

"Teachers are underpaid, students are overstressed," Erickson said. "I think the world in which they are growing up is hard."

Fifty-two years after Erickson had asked for better working conditions during the Minneapolis Public Schools strike in 1970, she's striking again, but this time for her daughter — also a Bancroft Elementary School teacher.

"The students — this is why we're doing this — is to make it better for them; to give them what they really need," Becky Ramgren said. "Those supports in schools, lower class sizes, and mental health support, counselors — I think maybe right now it's difficult, but my hope is that things will be better for students."

Ramgren said after watching her mother, she knew the job wasn't going to be easy.

"It feels like there was this sweet spot for awhile and then it just kind of slowly chipped away at it these last 10 to 15 years," Ramgren added. "It does seem surprising that we're back in the same place, that it feels like we're fighting for, and we shouldn't have to fight for."

Revisiting better wages, support and smaller class sizes — problems as old as the last strike.

"I felt frustrated in not being able to meet the needs of every student," Erickson recalled. "I didn't have time, we need more help; we do. I think this is a righteous cause, I really do. I really believe in it."

Those problems are something that thousands of MPS educators thought were worth braving the cold for.

"Being in a wheelchair, my husband — I couldn't get here if he didn't bring me — so he supports us too," Erickson said. 

And in terms of support, Ramgren says she's grateful for it., saying it will help her support her students back.

"I love my students and my families, and this is why we are here," she said. "We want them to be safe and have schools that are safe and stable. I would say thank you for all the support they've given me, and Bancroft, this whole time."

Like mother, like daughter. Two generations bound by education and hoping for the same things, 52 years apart.

"This group of teachers is amazing to me," Erickson said. "Bancroft is in good hands, and the students and parent support. it's great. I'm proud to have my daughter teaching here."

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