Dear PAT Colleagues,
Today, your PAT Bargaining Team met with PPS once again. We began by reasserting that specific safety and equity language are essential to any agreement on returning to school, to which the District maintained the position that they believe that discussing these matters with PAT is largely a waste of time. After this unfortunate opening of the session, we remained hopeful that we would find common ground with the District on several important return to work clauses from our proposal, where we envisioned tentatively agreeing to several items.
However, our efforts were thwarted, when management came to negotiations asserting their right to dictate the work week schedule without genuinely consulting professional educators in general education, SpEd educators, teacher librarians, and other “specials.” As it stands today, the amount of planning time being proposed by the district is essentially the same amount of time as professional educators had between March and June of last school year. As virtually all of you know from personal experience, that is not enough time to address student needs or educator workload. We continue to push District leaders to understand how their scheduling models will negatively impact the planning and preparation necessary for educators to effectively connect with and support students in a Distance Learning environment.
With regard to Special Education, our educators remain disheartened by the overwhelming backlog of evaluations that they must complete, in addition to the crushing workload they will encounter when we return to school this fall. The District did make a proposal that was intended to address the workload created by the backlog, but their proposal of three evaluation teams is insufficient to address the backlog in a timely fashion. With only three evaluation teams, it would take until at least December to get through the backlog. Evaluating special needs students is time sensitive and is not something that can wait until winter break.
It is crucial that we get to an agreement about our workday by Friday. Stay tuned for next steps if that does not happen.
Steve Lancaster, Chair
Portland Association of Teachers