“I assume you have some ideas about how the district could improve student achievement with $150 million. If not, talk to us after the meeting. NOC has some suggestions."
- Soul Marshall, NOC Member
Soul Marshall opened the public comment period at last night’s Minneapolis School Board meeting backed by over 100 people from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy. Ms. Marshall was referring to the conclusions of a major study that NOC released on Monday, October 10 linking the foreclosure crisis with the loss of $150 million in funding for the public schools in Minneapolis. The study, which was extensively covered by local media and made it on to the front page of the Huffington Post, showed that Wells Fargo bank was responsible for $28 million of that total. The MPS does an extensive amount of business with Wells Fargo, holding a checking account with them that processes $20 million a month in payroll expenses.
NOC members showed up at the Board meeting to express their shock that an institution that has been so hard hit by the crisis is doing business with one of the main Wall Street banks responsible for causing it. They expressed their desire that the Board start looking into moving their money from Wells Fargo into a responsible, accountable community bank. As NOC leader Marshall put it, “We are here tonight not just to share our report, but also to ask you to move the public schools’ money out of Wells Fargo and into a community bank.”
In addition to commenting at the Board meeting, NOC has started a petition directed at the School Board explaining the problem and asking them to move their money out of Wells Fargo and into a community bank. You can sign it here.
NOC members were able to get the attention of some of the Board members. In response to the comments from NOC members, School Board member Alberto Monserrate said,
“The mortgage crisis has devastated thousands of families in Minneapolis and throughout the country causing great economic hardship, causing thousands of shattered dreams. The mortgage crisis was caused by irresponsible behavior by some of our biggest financial institutions, and by inadequate regulations by government agencies. The victims of the crisis have been primarily low-income and middle class families. Most of those guilty for the crisis remain unaccountable for their behavior. Neighborhoods Organizing for Change's report brings us concerns about US Bank and Wells Fargo's role in the mortgage crisis, and about Minneapolis Public Schools' relationship with those banks. Members of the board have engaged our district leadership on this issue, and we're working on addressing those concerns.”
NOC will continue to press the School Board to do the right thing and divest from Wells Fargo. We will continue to press the Board on our education priorities and we will continue to press big Wall Street banks to do the right thing for our communities by stopping foreclosures on families in our communities. You can help the School Board do the right thing by signing the petition and making sure your family and friends do too!