Press Release

AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Nomination of Mary Cathryn Ricker as Minnesota Education Commissioner

For Release:


Marcus Mrowka
202-531-0689 (cell)

WASHINGTON—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker being nominated as Minnesota education commissioner by Gov.-elect Tim Walz:

“Mary Cathryn is the right person at the right time. Whether ensuring the community had a place in contract bargaining in St. Paul, or fighting for diversity in our teaching force and equity for all our students, or leading the AFT Innovation Fund’s work to strengthen schools, Mary Cathryn’s North Star has always been finding ways to help children. She understands that starts with deeply respecting and working with educators, because together we can do what is impossible for people to achieve alone. Her hallmark is finding common ground for the common good. 

“Her nomination as Minnesota education commissioner sends a clear message that teacher voice should be recognized, not invisible, in decisions concerning our students’ education. The voice and experience of teachers, and the needs of students and communities, have always guided Mary Cathryn’s work as a National Board Certified Teacher, a local leader and a national officer of the AFT. Now she gets to bring that passion and experience as a public school graduate, a public school teacher and a teacher union leader to making a difference in the lives of teachers and kids in her beloved home state.

“I’ve worked alongside Mary Cathryn for two decades and have treasured her wisdom, passion and optimism. They fuel her devotion to public education as the foundation of our democracy, our communities and our children’s pathway to achieving their dreams. Gov.-elect Walz could not have chosen a better partner to strengthen Minnesota’s public schools. 

“And on a personal note to Mary Cathryn, on behalf of the 1.7 million members of the AFT, we thank you for your leadership, we congratulate you on this achievement, and we look forward to working alongside you in this new role to continue championing public education and lifting up the voices of those in the classroom.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.