President’s Message: Now We Start Building Back Better

For many of us, the election results brought a great sense of relief and were a cause for celebration.

It’s now clear that our next President will be Joe Biden, who won the most popular votes in U.S. history.

Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris will smash through the glass ceiling, as she becomes the first woman, first Black woman, and first person of Indian descent to be elected to one of our nation’s highest offices. And our first-family will now include our fellow public school teacher, and longtime NEA member, Dr. Jill Biden.

With Betsy DeVos on her way out, we could have a real public school champion as the next Secretary of Education. In fact, our own NEA past-president, Lily Eskelsen García, is under consideration for the position. 

And despite the pandemic, and a misinformation campaign that threatened to disrupt the very foundation of our democracy, we saw historic levels of voter participation and civic engagement.

States also learned what Oregonians have almost taken for granted, that voting by mail is secure and boosts turnout. Thwarting cynical efforts to discredit the results, the integrity of outcomes in every state has been definitively established.

Closer to home, we also saw important progress on everything from funding for parks and libraries to establishing real police oversight and accountability, along with major breakthroughs like free, high-quality Universal Preschool.

And of course, the community again showed resounding support for our schools by passing the PPS bond.

Now is a time to celebrate the enormity of what we have accomplished, and to acknowledge and reflect on the work ahead of us. 

Despite the clear divisions within the electorate, now is a time to come together in solidarity, as a nation and within our own union. Disappointment and loss continue to spread, as we face an unchecked pandemic, a stalled economy, and the isolation of remote work and social distancing. 

In times like this, it’s essential we come together and support each other

And I am moved, but never surprised, every time I see educators sharing lessons, technology hacks, or other creative solutions with their colleagues. We continue to find ways to bridge the distance and break the isolation—in our classrooms, our school communities, and our union.

This holiday I hope you will find safe ways to reach out to loved ones and connect with friends and family. Remember that your colleagues, just like your students and their families, may be balancing more than you know. 

This Thanksgiving break, I hope you find opportunities for a much-deserved rest, for Covid-safe connections with loved ones, and time to appreciate the things that bring you joy and comfort.  

I also hope you’ll join me and make time to reflect on and honor the history of Indigenous People here in Oregon this month, including the very land we occupy.

Thanks to PAT’s Social Justice Committee, we have a growing list of resources to help educators at all grade levels bring Native American studies into our classrooms. This is a work in progress, so please share your recommendations and let us know what else we should add.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel
PAT President

November is Native American & Indigenous People's Heritage Month

The PAT Social Justice Committee, in partnership with the PAT Racial Equity Committee, has put together a list of resources for Native American & Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month. This includes lessons you can do with your students, book ideas, and more.

We can all make sure that students recognize that Native American and Indigenous history is American history, and this should be continued to be taught in the classroom all year. Please visit our website to find resources. 

We encourage you to add a land acknowledgement to your school routine. You can use this website to find what ancestral land your school is located on. Making a land acknowledgement is taking time to recognize the tribes that once lived where our schools now sit. Information about land acknowledgements can be found here.  

We also continue to expand our own library of virtual story-time with BIPOC PAT members. If you are an indigenous educator, please consider volunteering for the PAT Racial Equity reading project. Complete this form if you would like to volunteer to read a book (any grade level) for Indigenous Peoples' Heritage Month.

The book must contribute to Indigenous cultural understanding and expand our collective knowledge of the contributions of Indigenous people in our larger society. PAT can even provide the E-Book! Please check out the book lists on our website for ideas of what to read.

Be a PAT Leader!

Run for a Position on the Executive Board, and for the OEA and NEA Representative Assemblies

PAT is a democratic organization, and our leaders are elected by you and all our members. Our elections are held via electronic ballot in February. This year there are open positions for Executive Board Director-at-Large, OEA RA Delegate, and NEA RA Delegate. Any PAT member in good standing may run for elected position. Nominations for these positions are now open, and will close in January.

For more information, you can refer to the PAT Nominations and Elections Handbook and the Letter to Members, found on the PAT website: www.pdxteachers.org/pat_elections 

How to Run for PAT Executive Board

Nominations are now open, and will close on Friday, January 8, 2021, at 5:00 pm. (Note: this is earlier than the other positions to allow time for speeches to be recorded prior to the January RA.)

To nominate yourself for this position, please use this nomination form. Nomination forms must be submitted electronically to Jennifer Dixon (Jennifer.Dixon@oregoned.org) by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 8, 2021.

Learn more about Executive Board Director responsibilities here.

Prior to the January RA, candidates for this position will pre-record their three-minute speech with the N&E Committee on Zoom on one of two dates (Sunday, January 10, 2021 or Monday, January 11, 2021).

Candidates will be contacted by the N&E Committee to arrange this, and will have one opportunity to record their speech. There will not be multiple attempts, unless there is a technical issue. 

Speeches will be presented at the January 13, 2021 Representative Assembly.  

How to Run to be an OEA or NEA RA Delegate

NEA RA Delegates serve a 1- year term. This year’s NEA RA is scheduled for July 2-6, 2021, and will either be held in Denver, Colorado, or will be held virtually. To nominate yourself for this position, please use this nomination form. Nomination forms must be submitted electronically to Jennifer Dixon (Jennifer.Dixon@oregoned.org) by 7 pm on January 13, 2021. 

OEA RA Delegates serve a 3-year term. OEA RA’s are held on a Friday and Saturday in April. (This year’s OEA RA will be on April 16 & 17.) To run to be an OEA RA Delegate, you can simply add your name to this online form or you can also use the general nomination form. General nomination forms must be submitted electronically to Jennifer Dixon (Jennifer.Dixon@oregoned.org), or your name must be submitted on the online form, by 7 pm on January 13, 2021.

Know Your Contract: Tracking Overage Payments

Article 8.3.2.1 requires PPS to calculate each educator’s student loads and unique preparations on the third Monday in October. The payments for loads that exceed the negotiated guidelines in Article 8 will be included in the November paycheck.  

If you believe you did not receive a correct overload payment please enter your concern using the Overload Google form that PPS makes available each year. 

Once you have entered your information into the Google form, staff from PPS and PAT review the entries and determine if the member’s claim is accurate. Keep in mind, we can’t make corrections if you don’t enter the data first.  

Now There's an Easier Process for Working with Substitutes!

PAT has been advocating on behalf of regularly employed professional educators and substitute educators for an easier process when educators need to access a substitute. PPS has listened and the process has changed.

Thanks to all of the member input we received, PAT professional educators are now able to assign substitute educators to their Seesaw, Canvas, and Google Meet sections. That means less work to assign a guest educator and a more successful day for the substitute assigned. 

The stress, the cold and flu season, and the day-to-day issues that arise mean that even though you work from home, you may still need to use sick days, family leave days, and personal days.  In addition, your colleagues in the substitute educator ranks count on regular work for income, and to retain health insurance.  

Now that the process for Distance Learning substitute work is simplified and improved, we hope that all PAT members remember that you have a responsibility to yourselves and to your friends and family to stay well, and contractual rights to sick leave, family leave, and personal leave. 

You can review the communications that PPS sent to all professional educators regarding how regular PAT members can access a substitute, and how substitutes will work with classroom teachers with these links.

Educator Evaluations: Details on the Timeline and Process

After much discussion with the District, we have finally hammered out the process and timeline for 2020-21 educator evaluations.

We recognize that this is an unprecedented year, and both PAT and PPS agree that in this environment, evaluations should primarily provide an opportunity to have conversations with your administrator about strengthening your virtual practice. The intent of the evaluation process is to support teaching and learning in the face of our extremely challenging circumstances, while still meeting ODE requirements. 

However, given the specific challenges we’re facing, a majority of educators can expect an “in process” for many of the evaluation elements, because all ratings must be based on evidence.

Annual Goals

As part of this process, educators will be required to have two student learning goals and one professional goal for the year. Unlike prior years, you may focus student learning goals on:

  1. Social and emotional learning for students;
  2. Student engagement; and/or
  3. Family engagement.

Professional goals are areas that you decide you would like to work on, and academic goals may be considered with mutual agreement.

Key Steps in the Evaluation Process

There are four steps in this year’s evaluation process, a Pre-Observation Conference, a Formal Observation, a Post-Observation Conference, and a Summative Meeting.

This year’s Pre-Observation Conference for classroom teachers will be based on the Educator’s Self-Assessment and Reflection worksheet. Separate rubrics will be used for Library Media SpecialistsCounselors, and other Certified Educators not in the classroom.

Educators must be given at least five school days’ notice before the Formal Observation, and administrators will share their notes from the observation using the Administrator Observation Tool.

Generally, within five school days of the observation there should be a Post-Observation Conference. If the educator’s self-assessment and the administrator’s rating significantly diverge, the administrator will provide a written copy of the Administrator Observation Debrief Preparation Form.

For probationary educators this evaluation process will be conducted in both fall and spring, with a Fall Summative Meeting held prior to December 18, 2020 and a Spring Summative Meeting held by March 1, 2021.  

For contract educators there is one annual observation cycle. Formal observations must be completed by April 1, 2021 with Annual Summative Meetings completed by May 1, 2021.

A more detailed description of the evaluation process timeline, and documentation requirements can be found on the PAT website.

Sick Leave Bank Donation Drive: Now Paperless!

Donate up to 40 hours of your sick-leave to help a colleague in need.

Last school year, PAT members helped dozens of colleagues in need thanks to contributions to the PAT Sick Leave Bank.  These colleagues had exhausted their accumulated leave balances, but were unable to work due to extended or recurring personal illness. With the help of the Sick Leave Bank, they avoided the additional hardships of lost salary and lost insurance coverage.

Thanks to your generosity, last year we met our goal of collecting the maximum number of voluntarily donated hours allowed under our contract. Recent improvements in our contract (CBA Article 17.2.1.2.F) mean that we can now fulfill almost all applications for assistance prior to running out of Sick Leave Bank hours.  This shows the District that PAT members act on their belief that an injury to one is an injury to all.

It’s a new school year, with new needs, and a new Bank to fill. We can accept up to 4000 hours and have a long way to go to reach that goal. 

This year, it is easier than ever to donate hours: you can donate hours by filling out this online form! You will need to log in with your PPS email account and include your PPS employee ID number on the form.

Thank you for being part of this crucial program that allows us to support our colleagues through our union. 

Feeling Stressed? Anxious? Worried? Depressed? Resources for Maintaining Your Mental Health

You’re not alone. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly half of U.S. adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over COVID-19.

Positive lifestyle changes—like eating healthy, getting exercise, avoiding self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, and practicing relaxation techniques—may help you feel better. But sometimes, that’s not enough. 

These early warning signs indicate you might need help:

  • Loss of interest in things you’ve always enjoyed
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep changes
  • Anger or irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed by worry, sadness, or loneliness
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty focusing and making decisions
  • Unexplained aches and pains

If any of this sounds like what you’re going through, we encourage you to talk with a therapist. Sometimes a few sessions are all you need to get back to feeling like yourself again.

Click here to learn more about your mental health benefit options, and what to expect when you schedule a therapist visit.

Access Free Counseling Support when you Need It

The EAP (Employee Assistance Program) helps you privately solve problems that may interfere with your work, family, and life in general. EAP services are FREE to you, your dependents, and all household members.

EAP services are always confidential and provided by experts.  If you would be more comfortable connecting with a provider of color please make sure to ask the representative that is working with you. 

Licensure Support from the Oregon Education Association

As a benefit of membership, OEA offers a variety of resources to educators who need to meet requirements to attain or renew their licenses with the TSPC.

In addition to monthly online licensure workshops, OEA provides 1-1 Licensure ZOOM Consultations with Theresa Ferrer at OEA’s Center for Great Public Schools. 

If you are interested in taking advantage of any of these supports please review the following schedule of workshops or make an appointment for a consultation session. 

IPD Committee Updates: New K-5 Report Card and Distance Learning Survey

Everything is on track for our new, streamlined K - 5 report cards to be ready in Synergy by January 15 (2 weeks before the end of Q2)!

Enormous thanks to our K - 5 Report Card Committee members Christopher Naze, Martha Gross, Marlena Maestas, and Elizabeth Israel-Davis for their unswerving dedication and hours of work over the past year to accomplish this for our families and students! Thanks also to our Executive Board Liaisons, both past and present, Huck Wilken and Rachel Hanes.

Comprehensive Distance Learning Survey

We are continuing to conduct our IPD CDL survey in order to track PAT members’ experience with CDL and see what is improving and what is not.

Here is a Google slide deck with a comparison of September and October data. This slide deck was presented to the Deputy Superintendent and Department heads at the October IPC meeting.

After some feedback and consulting with one of our own PPS high school statistics teachers, we may be making modifications to parts of the survey and how it is distributed. This could help us get a more statistically valid response pool. 

The next IPD Committee meeting will be Wednesday, December 2nd 4:30 - 6:30. Known agenda items as of right now are:

  • Promising Practice Grants
  • CDL Survey

Please join us if you’d like to join in the work we’re doing (RSVP here). If you have something you’d like to discuss and potentially add to our agenda, please email eisraeldavis@comcast.net. Thanks!