President's Message

It has been a jarring week for our democracy. Last Wednesday, we saw a mob overtake the US Capital in an effort to subvert certification of the November election results and the transition of power. 

This was the culmination of four years of hate and misinformation coming from our nation’s highest office. And it once again illustrated the racist reality of our country’s policing practices. We are all still processing what occurred and what it means—thank you for the important role you have in helping your students do the same.

Last Wednesday morning, we also found reason to hope. The historic victories for Senators Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff in Georgia are the result of years of organizing by Black leaders like Stacy Abrams, and so many others.

The new landscape in DC creates the possibility of real progress toward economic justice, protecting the climate, and reversing racism in all the ways it is built into our society.

And starting January 20th, we also have new hope that our nation’s elected leaders will enact policies that will get this pandemic under control, and will give public schools the support we will need for a safe return to in-person instruction. 

Unfortunately, Oregon is moving in the wrong direction. 

Governor Brown has abandoned the metrics that have guided the state’s effort to safely re-open schools for in-person instruction, and that have been a key strategy in keeping community spread relatively low. Now she is pressuring districts to open schools in-person by February 15, regardless of community spread, and despite the fact that the disease continues to have an outsized impact on communities of color.

The Governor’s announcement has generated an onslaught of public pressure to open schools immediately. 

Last week, we surveyed our members to find out what you would do if you were directed to return to live instruction before a vaccine is available to all school staff.  While the survey was only open for a day and a half, we got a tremendous response—2,927 unique participants, or about 84% of members. The results speak for themselves:

  •     27.5% said that they would take a medical or family leave to protect their health or the health of someone they care for.
  •     41% said they would refuse to go back or take other direct action.
  •     Only 9% said they would go back without objection. 

We also disaggregated the data by grade-level and by race. There was little difference in the answers of our early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school teachers. However, educators of color were substantially more likely to say they would refuse to go back or take a medical leave (76.4%) than were white educators (66.5%).

You can see the results here.

Clearly, the District will not be able to open schools fully until there are conditions that make educators feel safe.

In the meantime, we are working with the District to formalize and enact agreements to create LIPI (Limited In-Person Instruction) opportunities for students. Read more about that below. 

Things continue to change quickly, and we all are anxious for a time when we can once again see our students and each other live and in person. 

But the safety of our members, as well as our students and their families, will always be the central concern of PAT. We will not let political expediency trump science in the debate over a return to in-person instruction.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

COVID-19 Vaccines for Educators

Last night we learned through the Governor’s press release, that early learning and K-12 educators and staff will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting January 23rd, along with childcare providers and everyone 65 and over. We have not received any more information than what was in the press release, but will keep you informed as we learn more. 

Please note, Governor Brown said NOT to contact your health care provider at this time; we expect more information about vaccine distribution to be announced on Friday.

Bargaining for Racial Equity

Recruiting and retaining educators of color in our profession is a goal of our union, and is essential for the well-being of our students and the future of our profession. Fighting for racial equity in our school system is a core value. One powerful tool we have to further this work is our contract, and we improve our contract through collective bargaining.

Our bargaining team has been revamping the bargaining proposals that we developed last school year to fit the new landscape in which we will be bargaining. There are some proposals we will need to put off or tone down in the face of the economic turbulence we currently face. But it is crucial that we amplify proposals designed to better support our educators of color. To do that, we need to listen to our members of color and what they need.

In December, our bargaining team, bargaining committee, and racial equity committee came together to generate and discuss bargaining concepts that center racial equity. We came together again last week, with bargaining and racial equity leaders from Beaverton, Hillsboro, Eugene, and Salem to discuss coordinated bargaining for racial equity—a strategy to strengthen our power by organizing around the same demands in multiple locals. 

As a next step, we are working on creating a survey for all our members of color to give feedback on the bargaining concepts that were generated in these meetings or otherwise submitted to the team, and intended to better support members of color in our union and in our schools.

What is Limited In-Person Instruction?

Many of you have noticed the tension that has developed between the understandable desire to have children return to school, and the sensible insistence on safe working environments under COVID-19 conditions. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health experts have advised that individuals avoid the “Three Cs” – Close Contact, Closed Spaces, Crowds. Thankfully, there is a way that some in-person instruction can still take place while meeting health and safety guidelines; ODE calls it LIPI (Limited In-Person Instruction).

According to the Oregon Department of Education, LIPI is when schools operating in the Comprehensive Distance Learning instructional model bring a limited number of students, for limited hours and with specific conditions, on-site. 

Per ODE Guidelines:

  • LIPI cohort groups are limited to no more than 20 students.
  • Students cannot be part of more than two cohorts (including transportation) in any given week. 
  • Any one staff member (even in multiple roles) cannot interact with more than three cohorts in a given day and five in a week. 
  • LIPI cannot take the place of any CDL instruction. 

You can read the full Guidance for Limited In-Person Instruction During CDL HERE

Your PAT bargaining team has worked over the last three sessions to negotiate the fine points of LIPI activities in PPS. Key to our conversation:

  • LIPI instruction will be provided by educators on a voluntary basis. If the District cannot find a volunteer from the regularly employed PAT membership, PPS will open the positions to PAT substitute educators. 
  • Volunteers who agree to provide LIPI during teacher-directed time in their regular schedule will be paid at their individual per-diem hourly rate for all lost teacher-directed time, plus for an additional hour per week for time spent planning LIPI sections.
  • Educators who volunteer can rescind their volunteer offer if they do not feel safe once they inspect the space provided for LIPI.

We reached conceptual agreement on all points last week and you can look for the final copy of the language attached to the next Bargaining Brief.

Getting Organized for Contract Negotiations

As we prepare to start negotiations over a new PAT contract, it is vital that every PAT member knows how we are developing our capacities and structures to organize members to demonstrate our solidarity. It is through organizing and action-- both internally with members and externally with parents, labor, and community allies-- that we build our power and win a just contract that moves us towards the schools our students deserve. 

Get a PAT Shirt from your Organizer

PAT Blue emblazoned with the words It’s Time for the Schools Our Students Deserve are currently being distributed by your building organizers. Please make sure you complete the t-shirt order form that they circulated and keep an eye out for a communication from your organizer on when and where you can pick your t-shirt. 

Use your 1:10 Organizing Structure

When things are happening fast, we use our organizing structure to quickly relay messages or have conversations directly with every member in our buildings. Here’s how it works:

The Head Internal Organizer, Erika Schneider, communicates with Zone Organizers.

The Zone Organizers call the Building Organizers in their Zone.

The Building Organizers communicate with the 1:10 Organizers.

The 1:10 Organizers each talk to up to 10 members at their site.

To make this system work, we need enough 1:10 Organizers at every site, to make sure your Building Organizer has a team to help get the word out to everyone. Please respond to your Building Organizer when they contact you. It is important we get your input.

What if my building doesn’t have an organizer? 

If you aren’t sure if your building has an organizer, please consider stepping up to take on the role during this important time with bargaining. We need a strong organizing structure in every school, and we can only achieve that when people take on leadership roles within their building. And if your Building Organizer could use another teammate, please consider stepping up as a 1:10 Organizer during this crucial time.

Contact Erika Schneider (ebschneids@gmail.com) or Peter Brogan (peter.brogan@oregoned.org) to find out more about being a Building Organizer at your site. 

Meet your Zone Organizers

A big thanks to these PAT members who are the lead organizers for these Zones:

Erika Schneider (Llewellyn Elementary School) -- Head Internal Organizer

Mike Bauer (Cleveland High School) --- Internal Organizer Lead

Beyoung Yu (Rosa Parks Elementary) -- Zone 1 

Jeff Grier (Woodlawn Elementary/SLP) -- Zone 2

Joyce McShane (ACCESS @ Vestal) --Zone 3

TBA--Zone 4

Shannon Foxley (da Vinci Middle School) -- Zone 5

Maggie Raczek (Lincoln High School) -- Zone 6

Ami Fox (Cleveland High School) -- Zone 7

Tina Lamanna (Markham Elementary) -- Zone 8

Julie Whitaker (Bridlemile Elementary) -- Zone 9

Each Zone Organizer is responsible for supporting and communicating with the Building Organizers in approximately ten buildings in their assigned zone. 

Gratitude and Congratulations for Cynthia Campos

Cynthia Campos, our UniServ Consultant, has accepted a new position within OEA. Starting this month, she will be working on behalf of our fellow OEA members in Higher Education. Cynthia has been a huge support to our members and our union, and our Community College colleagues are lucky to get her support and expertise. Will will miss her, and wish her the best of luck as she pursues this new endeavor! Luckily, we will still get to work with her through OEA.

We are interviewing candidates for the UniServ Consultant position at PAT this week and hope to have a new staff member to introduce to you soon. In the meantime, we are fortunate to have our own recently-retired Kathi Koenig in to fill the gap. 

Know Your Benefits: Family and Medical Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired on Dec. 31, 2020. It required employers to provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave. Although employers may voluntarily choose to continue the expanded leave, PPS has decided not to. 

The traditional (original) form of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is still in effect, but this form of leave is unpaid. PPS allows employees to use their accrued time to “pay themselves” while they are on an approved leave. If you are approved for a medical leave to care for yourself or a family member, you will be paid using your accrued leave balances in this order: family illness leave, sick leave, personal leave, then reserve sick leave. 

Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is an entitlement so long as you have met the Oregon eligibility requirements

PPS recently decided to outsource their FMLA leave processing to a vendor called FMLA Source. You contact them to begin the process of applying for medical leave. 

This is an extremely stressful time.  Please take care of yourself, and know that medical and family leave may be options to support your health and that of your family members.

Study Leave and Unpaid Leave-- Deadlines to Apply

Study Leave - Full Year
Applications Due 2nd Monday in February

Details from the PAT/PPS Contract, Article 17.4.6 - "Completed applications with all necessary information for fall semester for full year study leaves must be filed with the Study Leave committee by the second Monday in February preceding the year of study leave."

Full-Year Unpaid Leave
Applications Due March 1
Details from the PAT/PPS Contract, Article 17.4.1 -"Requests for a full year unpaid Personal, Exchange, or Career Development leave of absence (whether part-time or full-time) for the next school year must be submitted to Human Resources prior to March 1 or the leave will not be approved, except in extenuating circumstances where such leave requests will not be unreasonably denied."

Information regarding these unpaid leaves can be found on the PPS website

PAT Elections

On February 8, an e-mail will be sent to PAT members’ PPS email accounts, which will include a link to their ballot, candidate statements, photos, and videos of candidate speeches.

The following are the candidates for the major offices in this election:

Executive Board (vote for 4):

  • Angela Bonilla
  • Ami Fox
  • Shannon Foxley
  • Tina Lamanna
  • Beyoung Yu

The ballot will also include candidates for OEA RA Delegate positions and for NEA RA Delegate positions.

Please make sure to vote by Thursday, February 25, 2021, by 5:00 PM, outside of your work hours.

Executive Board Candidate Questionnaire

Pursuant to Section 2, subsection E of the PAT Nominations and Elections Handbook, members now have the opportunity to submit written questions for the Executive Board candidates who are currently running for office. The Nominations and Elections Committee will choose 4 member-generated questions to ask candidates to respond to via an optional, electronic questionnaire.  PAT Members will receive a copy of candidate responses along with the voter pamphlet on February 8, 2021. Please submit your questions via this electronic form by the end of business Friday, January 20.

Rally, March, & Caravan to Inaugurate Justice

 

In November, the PAT Executive Board signed the Defend Democracy Coalition Pledge. 

On January 20th, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm in Irving Park, the Defend Democracy Coalition is holding a rally and march to celebrate the defeat of the Trump administration at the ballot box and to send a loud message to the Biden-Harris administration that our movements for social, racial, and economic justice are demanding an ambitious agenda of change. 

Dumping Trump and turning the senate blue was just the beginning. This agenda includes such vital demands as: Medicare for all, real COVID relief, protection of immigrants, and reallocating money away from policing and into human needs. 

Put on your PAT blue on January 20th and join the labor contingent at the march. 

Grants for Students in Need: Support the OEA Foundation and Access Funds for Students

When Oregon students wake up and head to school, things look different this year. But one thing hasn’t changed: our students living in shelters, struggling with poverty, or navigating the foster care system or parental illness come to school with a few less resources than other students. That’s where the OEA Foundation can step in. A new winter jacket, waterproof boots, personal hygiene products – these are the types of basic and essential needs our students have that the Foundation covers. If you have a student who needs extra support to cover the basics, consult the complete OEA Foundation guidelines today and apply with the easy online application.  

If you are able, we invite every OEA member to give through payroll deduction, even just $1 per month to the Foundation – 100% of every dollar donated goes to support Oregon public school students. 

Black Lives Matter in Schools: Curriculum Fair

Join Teaching for Change and Howard University’s School of Education for a virtual curriculum fair featuring workshops, keynote speakers, and time for educators to learn more about the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, taking place February 1-5, 2021. This virtual event is free for educators and takes place on January 30th from 8:00am-10:30am. Register here for this awesome opportunity-  this might fill up fast, so register soon! 

If you are interested in planning for Black History Month and Black Lives Matter Week of Action/Year of Purpose with the Racial Equity Committee and the Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee, please fill out this interest form. 

OEA Winter Retreat for Early Career Educators--January 30th, 2021

For the third consecutive year, OEA will be hosting a Winter Recharge retreat for aspiring educators and early career educators. This is an event tailored to the needs of aspiring educators and professionals in the first few years of their career.  

This year, the event will be held virtually in a new, more flexible format on January 30th, 2021, with content offerings available from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  

This is an opportunity to network with educators across the state in roles of mutual support, and delve into professional development opportunities which best suit your current role and goals for your career in education. This is one of many professional development supports that OEA offers its members. Please check out the OEA website for additional opportunities.  

For more information and to register for the Winter Retreat please click here

Upcoming Events List

The PAT office and Advocacy Cadre will be closed Monday, January 18th to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Watch “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” A Broadcast Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., Monday, January 18, 2021

January Committees Meeting, RSVP Here

  • Substitute, Jan. 20, 4:30-6:30pm
  • Advocacy, *Rescheduled* Jan. 21, 4:30-6:30pm
  • Membership, Jan. 21, 4:30-5:30pm
  • Legislative, Jan. 21, 5:00-7:00pm
  • IPD, Jan. 22, 4:30-6:30pm
  • Racial Equity, Jan. 27, 4:30-6:30pm 
  • SJCO, Jan. 27, 4:30-6:30pm

See the PAT Calendar for more

Bargaining Brief- January 12, 2021

PAT Colleagues:

 

Your PAT Bargaining Team was able to reach final agreement on language regarding work under Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI) conditions.  As we will mention in the Advocate later today, we did all we could to find a way to protect the safety of PAT members who volunteer to serve students in a LIPI setting, and to enable PAT members to serve distinct groups of students who have specific needs.

 

(Links to view the bargaining sessions from January 6- Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5- and January 12- Part 1Part 2Part 3.)

 

The ten-point Agreement for LIPI Safety Conditions (view here) contains significant guarantees for PAT members.  The agreement requires the District to provide professional development on safety protocols prior to the start of LIPI, and that “only professional educators who volunteer will provide LIPI.”  Those two elements mean that no PAT member can be forced to provide LIPI or be punished/discriminated against for not being willing to provide LIPI.  In addition, the agreement holds that an educator must be able to review the workspace that will be used for LIPI, and that once LIPI begins, an educator can essentially ‘un-volunteer’ if they do not feel safe or if safety conditions change.   

 

The agreement also specifically states that even if a room can accommodate twenty students, an educator, in consultation with their building administrator, may divide the group into “sub cohorts.” This means that an educator can evaluate and determine the best way to serve the students, and the building administrator and educator can collaborate on how to make the educator’s ideas work. 

 

Finally, if an educator who volunteers to provide LIPI is working with a student(s) who cannot wear a mask, the educator can request and receive KN95 (or equivalent) masks, face shields, protective garments, and gloves. 

 

This agreement empowers educators to be in charge of their working conditions and provides some much needed support for students. 

 

In Solidarity,

 

Your PAT Bargaining Team-

Steve Lancaster, Chair

Emy Markewitz

Francisca Alvarez

Charity Powell

Andre Hawkins

Portland Association of Teachers
http://www.pdxteachers.org/

Joint Letter to Gov. Brown from Union Presidents

Sent to PAT Members 1/7/2021: See the PDF here.

Dear Educator,

First, I want to acknowledge that the violence and disruption of the peaceful transition of power in Washington DC yesterday has been rightfully pulling our attention away from "normalcy" this week. Educators play an important role in helping students process these events and helping students learn about this moment in our nation's history - thank you.

Meanwhile, conversations across the state continue about the appropriate timeline to safely open schools for in-person instruction. 

I wanted to share the attached letter, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to in-person instruction, from the presidents of the Portland Association of Teachers, the Beaverton Education Association, the Salem Keizer Education Association, the Hillsboro Education Association, and the Eugene Education Association. The text of the letter is below.

Elizabeth Thiel, PAT President
http://www.pdxteachers.org/

 

Continue reading

Unemployment Info Session for PAT Substitutes- January 7, 4-5:15pm

Are you a substitute educator struggling to navigate the Oregon Unemployment Insurance process?

On Thursday, January 7th, from 4:00-5:15PM, We have an Oregon Employment Department presenter who will give PAT substitute members a brief presentation and a Q & A session in which members and union leaders can ask questions.

Register for this important seminar here.

While the presenter cannot resolve issues with individual claims, they can answer any questions about OED policies, procedures, and regulations, including the best way to get help with a claim.

This webinar will accommodate 500 people, so be sure to register today. The seminar will be recorded and sent to those who are interested but cannot attend.

We hope to see you there.

Bargaining Brief- December 11, 2020

PAT Colleagues:

 

Your PAT Bargaining Team is happy to announce that on Friday, December 11, 2020 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), we made significant progress with PPS towards finalizing an agreement regarding Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI). The Agreement guarantees that educators have autonomy in determining how to carry out Limited In-Person Instruction. 

 

Though NOT in signed form, the discussion led to verbal agreements as follows:

1) Guaranteeing that LIPI instruction will be provided by educators on a voluntary basis.  If the district cannot find a volunteer from the regularly employed PAT membership, PPS will open the positions to PAT substitute educators. 

2) Recognizing the added workload on educators who do both LIPI and regular on-line instruction. Volunteers who agree to provide LIPI during teacher-directed time in their regular schedule will be paid at their individual per-diem hourly rate for all lost teacher-directed time plus for an additional hour per week for time spent planning LIPI sections.

3) Guaranteeing that educators who volunteer can rescind their volunteer offer if they do not feel safe once they inspect the space provided for LIPI, or if they feel that the time required or safety issues are too great to continue. 

 

What helped the two teams make such quick progress was the presentation of the PAT’s COVID-19 LIPI Interests survey results.  It was clear to both teams that most PAT members believe that the workload and safety concerns related to in-person instruction prohibit large-scale LIPI activities. 

 

Your team and the PPS team agreed that the state’s cap of twenty students in a LIPI cohort could be divided up however the volunteer educator feels provides for safety, student needs, and pedagogical efficacy.  For example, if a classroom has an in-person capacity of 14 students (35 square-feet per student), the professional educator could divide the two-hour time period of LIPI into two groups of 7 students, with one hour for each group.

 

The two bargaining teams are so close to agreement on language that they will exchange proposals via email in order to speed up the process. 

 

Unfortunately, we did not have time to address the PAT proposals that would guarantee adequate support for families and communities. (View PAT’s Permissive Community Interest Proposal here.) While the PAT team originally put forward a version of these proposals back in August, we provided the District with a newer version of them the day before bargaining on December 11.  Our proposals include adding dedicated staff teams to consistently support students whose needs are not being met by CDL, providing physical materials to students who need them, and providing communications and supports to families in their preferred language.  PAT continues to believe that supporting our students and families is vital to making distance learning more successful. We will address those proposals when we return from winter break.

 

 

Continue reading

Bargaining Re-Opening/LIPI Survey Results

Brief sent to PAT membership, December 13, 2020

Good Morning,

The PAT Bargaining Team will be meeting with the District again today to continue discussions from 12:15 to 4:15PM. Please tune in on the PAT YouTube channel to watch the live stream of this meeting. 

In addition to today's bargaining, we have the results and demographics of the COVID/LIPI survey for you to review. We will be sharing this data with the District today in bargaining, but we wanted you to see your colleagues' responses, if you wish. 
The live stream will be available to view on our YouTube channel later as part of the “PAT-PPS Negotiations 2020” playlist.

In Solidarity,

Portland Association of Teachers
http://www.pdxteachers.org/

President's Message

Dear Educators,

2020 is drawing to a close, but this year has marked our lives forever. 

It was almost a year ago that we began hearing the first news of a dangerous new virus. And Friday, March 13th was the last time we saw our students face-to-face in our classrooms. 

Over the past nine months we have re-invented our practices and built new ways to engage our students and families— all during a national reckoning on race and while grieving the loss of over 275,000 beloved community members across the country.

Throughout all this, our union has relentlessly worked to support our members, to center educator voice in decision-making, and to advocate for a more just and equitable school system and society. 

And your passion and commitment to our common goals is clear. Despite the obstacles that social-distancing has presented, we have record participation in our Rep Assemblies, committee meetings, and member-led projects.

This winter break has never been more needed or more deserved. Please take time to refresh and recharge, and celebrate the coming of a new year.

There is much work ahead as we navigate an intensifying pandemic, prepare for our eventual re-entry to our classrooms, and attempt to leverage this moment to address the systemic inequities in our schools and communities laid bare by this crisis. 

And in the closing weeks of 2020, I know you’ll make the most of current opportunities to support your students and colleagues, lend your perspective to decision-makers at ODE, and get more involved with our union. 

Your vision, wisdom, and commitment— in solidarity with students, communities, and workers fighting for the same values— are the force that will make 2021 a year of needed change.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

PAT Office and Advocacy Cadre Closed for the Holidays

Currently, the PAT Advocacy Cadre meets with building representatives and members every Monday night from 5:00-6:30 p.m. to help members with their contract questions. This year, the Cadre Zoom drop in hours will be closed from December 21st and will reopen on Monday, January 4th. We encourage all building representatives to come to the Cadre Zoom hours to discuss issues in your buildings and get support on enforcing our contract in our schools.

The PAT office will also be closed from December 21st through January 1st. PAT staff will return January 4th.

ODE/OEA Forum: Oregon Ethnic Studies Standards

In the summer of 2020, thousands of people signed a petition to require the teaching of the racial history of Oregon. At the same time, the Oregon Department of Education was completing work on a set of ethnic studies standards. Oregon is now on track to be the first state to require the teaching of Ethnic Studies Standards for all students K-12. These standards are targeted for adoption in the 2021-2022 school year. 

Join OEA members and the public from all around the state to get an informed preview of the new Oregon Ethnic Studies Standards in one of the upcoming forums taking place in the next couple of months. We need your feedback to make these standards as powerful, relevant, and doable as possible! These forums will also provide an opportunity to gather in grade level or constituency groups to provide more robust feedback. It is recommended that all participants take a glance at the standards ahead of time if you can. Choose among the following dates: 

  • December 10, 2020
  • January 6, 2021
  • January 11, 2021

Register now to hold your spot. Take an advanced peek at the standards.