Some white teachers get paid less for doing the same job as BIPOC counterparts

Under a state grant program, districts across Minnesota explicitly pay BIPOC mentor teachers more than white teachers doing the same job.

Under a state grant program, several districts across the state explicitly pay BIPOC mentors more than white mentors. (Shutterstock)

Just because white St. Paul teachers haven’t complained about receiving less pay than their black counterparts doesn’t mean they like it.

“White teachers have a problem getting paid less for doing the same job,” one teacher told Alpha News, requesting to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) is one of many districts across the state that pays black and brown mentor teachers more per mentee than their white counterparts doing the same job. Mentors provide support to teachers who are new to a district or the profession.

According to the St. Paul Public Schools website, BIPOC mentors receive an additional $200 per mentee.

“In an effort to recruit mentors of color, full-year BIPOC mentors will receive an additional $200,” the website says. Half-year mentors receive an additional $100. The stipend for white teachers is $1000 per year and $500 per half year. BIPOC teachers receive $1200 and $600, respectively.

According to Erica Wacker, SPPS communications director, the district was awarded a Teacher Mentorship and Retention of Effective Teachers Grant by the Minnesota Professional Educator and Licensing Standards Board (PELSB), a grant program that was approved in 2019 by the legislature. Under this grant program, numerous schools across the state explicitly pay BIPOC mentors more than white mentors, which is allowed under state law.

“We have not received any negative feedback on this initiative,” Wacker wrote in an email to Alpha News.

“The grant specifically funds additional stipends as incentives for mentors who are BIPOC,” she wrote. “Both PELSB and SPPS value the diverse perspectives and experiences that BIPOC mentors bring and seek to recruit more BIPOC mentors for our mentoring program.”

The district hasn’t received negative feedback because many white teachers don’t know about the pay difference, and those who do are afraid to speak out, one teacher said. Teachers spoke to Alpha News under the promise of anonymity.

The program is “clear discrimination,” one teacher said. Multiple teachers told Alpha News the initiative is unfair and creates division.

Another teacher said she doesn’t complain about the initiative for fear of being called racist or being retaliated against by the district.

“People won’t complain about it,” she said. “They just won’t do it anymore. They’re going to lose expertise.”

Other teachers said the effort is “misguided.”

“There’s got to be a better way to do this. I feel like I’m not valued,” one white teacher said. “I’m a liberal person as far as the political spectrum goes. And I don’t even mentor for the money, but this is insulting enough that I won’t do it (mentor) again. People will feel so insulted they won’t mentor anymore.”


Sheila Qualls

Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.