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Minnesota senator accuses Rochester teachers of 'vulgarity' during Capitol rally

Rochester state Sen. Carla Nelson activated her Situational Outrage Button after teachers protested her for going cheap on Minnesota kids.

Rochester state Sen. Carla Nelson activated her Situational Outrage Button after teachers protested her for going cheap on Minnesota kids. Carla Nelson

Teachers from across Minnesota gathered at the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to boost funding for education. The contingent from Rochester got particularly creative.

“F.U., Carla,” one sign appeared to read from a distance. “Carla, WTF!” read another.

Upon closer inspection, the messaging wasn't quite as daring as it seems. The “F.U.” actually read “Fund Us, Carla,” only with the first two letters enlarged in bold. “Carla, Where's the Funding?” read the other, posed in similarly sly lettering.

Yet the teachers' target, Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), is clearly not someone who encourages creativity.

She's chairwoman of a Senate education finance committee, part of a GOP blockade to temper any hike in school funding. Democrats wanted a 3 percent raise. Republicans wanted a meager 0.5 percent. When it's not a corporate tax cut, they prefer to keep their numbers small.

So Nelson naturally pressed the outrage button when she saw the signs, posting a photo of the teachers' “gross lapse in judgment” to Twitter.

“I’m very disappointed to see that type of disrespect and innuendo and vulgarity,” she told the Rochester Post-Bulletin. “It’s clearly unfortunate, and I’m sure that teachers, some may wish they hadn’t done that.”

Added fellow Rochester Sen. Dave Senjem: “It was not the way to influence people. These are our teachers. These are the people who are going to be in front of kids on Monday morning. And that kind of judgment on Saturday morning didn’t help the cause. It embarrassed their profession.”

Still, it's hard to fathom any student being offended, save for the ones home-schooled by Mormon fundamentalists. In fact, it's easy to think that kids might see their teachers in a new, more human light. The teachers, after all, were protesting on their behalf. And they were doing so with a jaunty bit of style.

The Rochester Public Schools didn't see it that way. Or at least they had to pretend not to see it that way, if only to provide cover for the conservative parents lighting up their phones.

“We are disappointed with the signage we saw circulating on social media and we do not believe this is representative of our teaching community,” a spokesperson harrumphed to Med City Beat. “We respect the process that the Minnesota Legislature uses and are appreciative of the budget that was brought forth last night.”

That budget ended up with a 2 percent hike for education, giving students the win.

And it should be noted that, like most politicians, Carla Nelson's sense of outrage is highly situational. While she might feign offense at any suggestion of the F-word, she's also a big fan of Donald Trump, a man to whom innuendo and vulgarity are spiritual quest. And you won't hear a word from her on his many, many, many trespasses.