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Teachers' signs targeting Minnesota lawmaker cause a stir

The target of the suggestive signs was a Rochester senator.

A group of Rochester teachers have raised some eyebrows with a series of placards they brought with them to the Minnesota capitol as they rallied for education funding this week.

The target of their complaints was GOP Sen. Carla Nelson, whose 26th District patch includes a large area of Olmsted County and Rochester.

The Rochester contingent joined up to 300 other teachers who rallied at the capitol on Saturday during the ongoing budget negotiations, which reached an apparent accord a day later.

Sen. Nelson is a member of the Senate Republicans who were calling for a lower amount of education funding, an increase of just 0.5 percent in each of the next two years, compared to the 2 and 3 percent sought by Democrats.

To that end, teachers from her home district held up suggestive signs such as "Fund Us Carla" – with the "F" and "U" in large red letters, as well as another one saying "Where's The Funding?" – with the "WTF," again," in large red letters.

Sen. Nelson shared pictures of the signs on her personal Facebook page, with commenters criticizing them as being "inappropriate" and saying the teachers were setting a bad example to children.

"I expect more of our teachers than their crass means of expressing their opinions," one commenter said.

Among those critical was Olmsted County Commissioner Shelia Kiscaden, who said: "How does this persuade or result in dialogue that can lead to resolution???"

Others however defended the signs, with one suggesting they have been reduced to such behavior because of years of being underpaid, undervalued, treated like "baby sitters" and being forced to pay for their own supplies.

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This was echoed by Dun Kuhlman, president of the Rochester Education Association, who told the Post-Bulletin that local teachers are dedicated public servants and have sincere frustrations over education funding.

Nelson meanwhile told the newspaper she was "very disappointed" to see such "disrespect," "innuendo" and "vulgarity."

Teachers have been vocal during the ongoing budget negotiations as a result of the underfunding of Minnesota schools seen since the turn of the century, which have left many forced to cut teachers and other staffing positions.

On Sunday, the Senate GOP and House DFL/Gov. Tim Walz agreed to a compromise budget that will see education spending increase by 2 percent in each of the next two years.

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