After a series of conversations with the Portland Public School Board, the Portland Association of Teachers has decided to take part in the Portland Public Schools 2017 Superintendent search. Though we do not feel that the Advisory Committee is the best way to conduct such a search, we saw benefits to participation.
From the beginning, PAT has asked for an opportunity to do something that we can do best—vet each candidate’s track record for working collaboratively with labor. As the largest single group of employees in the District, we have been clear that our next superintendent must value the work of educators. It's also important that we have the time to talk directly with educators from other parts of the country about each candidate’s history, and how they handled issues that are critical to PAT members. To that end, we have pushed for a minimum three-day waiting period from the time the Board announces a finalist before any contract is approved. Thanks to our advocacy, all potential candidates for Superintendent will have to submit a labor reference and we will have an opportunity to sit in on this reference check for all the finalists.
At our November Representative Assembly, building reps took a formal position that the Portland Association of Teachers should be a voting member of the search committee. PAT is not simply another “stakeholder” in Portland Public Schools. As professional educators, we will be charged with carrying out the policies and directives of the new Superintendent. This critical role should be recognized by the PPS School Board, and the PAT should have more than the ability to simply give “input.”
Unfortunately, the School Board decided not to grant us a vote, but we will be able to publicly voice our opinion on the finalists before the Board votes. While we still believe the board should have opted for a more transparent process, this does allow us to influence the decision-makers. Even on these more limited terms, we believe there is value to our participation.
Two PAT appointees have started meeting with the School Board stakeholders to design our questions for the finalists. Interviews will be conducted February 21-25. We will continue to keep you informed about the process.