Your PAT Bargaining Team met with PPS on January 26th (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) to discuss the PAT’s proposals regarding support for students and families during COVID Comprehensive Distance Learning. This was our third full session negotiating on the community proposals.
PAT initially proposed this language in August of 2020. For months, the PPS bargaining team refused to recognize the importance of making agreements to address community needs that impact our students’ access to learning. The PAT bargaining team was forced to say that we would find it difficult to reach final agreement on other topics if the PPS team would not meaningfully address our community proposals.
Once they finally recognized that support for students and families is of the deepest importance to educators, the PPS team begrudgingly agreed to talk about language to shape a PAT and PPS partnership in these areas.
While the District has agreed to support families with technology, basic needs, and some educational supplies, they are unwilling to honor the work of our members supporting students through affinity groups and other programs meant to build student voice, strength, and identity. They are also unwilling to provide additional resources needed to better support students’ academic needs during distance learning.
For example, PPS refuses to accept language that would enable PAT members and PPS building administrators to work together to access substitute educators for the purpose of supporting students who need extra adult support in CDL.
Specifically, PAT proposed:
A professional educator may request the assistance of, and a building administrator may approve, fully trained substitute teachers for daily support for students who have shown the need for additional academic instruction or social/emotional support. A minimum of two substitute educators per building shall be identified as resources for this purpose.
PPS rejected the proposal. It is increasingly hard to understand why these common sense, collaborative commitments to meet the academic, social/emotional, and basic physical needs of traditionally underserved students would be rejected by Portland Public Schools.
We will continue to push this issue. Although no bargaining team believes that it will achieve all the language it has proposed, we are unwilling to give up on contract language that PAT members believe will make an immediate impact on the lives of students.
We would prefer to move on to addressing other elements in bargaining, such as finalizing the safety language and working conditions for Hybrid instruction, but we will not be partners in ignoring our students’ needs.
Your PAT Bargaining Team-
Steve Lancaster, Chair
Portland Association of Teachers