Bargaining Brief, November 30, 2021

Fellow PAT Colleagues:

Yesterday was another day of bargaining with PPS regarding our proposals for COVID-19 Workload Relief. Your PAT Bargaining team met with PPS from 1 o’clock until about 5:30 PM.  We are sorry to report that this was a difficult day for our team and the educators we represent. You can watch the sessions here: part onepart two, and part three.   

The negotiations session began with PPS showing up without a proposal or counter proposal to present. (PPS did present a slide deck that it had worked on for related purposes, but we did not get the PPS counter proposal until almost 3 PM.)

We were in agreement with PPS that our schools are in crisis. The PPS Team presented data that showed an alarming increase this year in fights at school, instances of drug and alcohol, weapons on campus, Title IX reports, and a 250% increase in the number of suicide screenings for the first quarter of this year compared the first quarter of the 2019-20 school year. Even though they calmly reported such terrible data, they then made a proposal that no reasonable person would expect to have a meaningful impact on reducing these grave problems.

Portland students, families, and educators deserve much better. If PPS knows that the problems are so severe and so profound, they must listen to educators’ efforts to address the issues and make things better. A few minor adjustments to an already overburdened system will not meet the extreme needs of students and educators at this moment.  

Although PPS couldn’t find the time to prepare a counter proposal before our meeting, we found out that Dr. Bird and Mr. Garcia did have time to produce media hit-pieces falsely representing the PAT proposal. Your team discovered that although PPS knew that the PAT was not demanding 20 days of no-student contact, they continued to represent our position that way. When we called them on their inaccurate and disrespectful statements and bargaining tactic, they actually smirked and turned away.

It is our hope that the PPS team stops their disinformation campaign, and actually begins to bargain for a meaningful solution to the crisis we are facing.

To the contrary of Dr. Bird’s misrepresentation, the PAT Team has repeatedly explained that the “office hour/flex day” proposal for High Schools does not call for a non-student-instruction day.  Rather, as PAT stated multiple times, the purpose of the day is to provide students additional tutorial time, including small-group and/or one-on-one support. Under our proposal, students would have access to their teachers the entire day, with some educators available in the morning, and the others in the afternoon. Students who need it would get MORE individualized support, and educators would gain much-needed time to assess, plan, and collaborate, so that they can better meet students' needs EVERY day. We strongly encourage you to view your Bargaining Team’s response to the District’s mischaracterization of our proposal starting at the 11 minute mark of session two.

The PAT team also proposed that Middle Schools and Elementary Schools have a late start or early release one day a week (a standard practice in many school districts) for educator planning time, so that we can adapt our instruction and practices to meet the needs of our students this year. Educators and building administrators at our Middle and Elementary Schools desperately need time to work on systems in their schools to ensure students have a safe, healthy, and trauma-informed learning environment.

It is your PAT Bargaining Team’s sincere hope that PPS will come to the table on December 6th with a change in attitude and a proposal that demonstrates the courage to take bold action in a time of crisis. Like so many of you, we fear that continued neglect by PPS will lead to tragic consequences for PPS students. 

As always, we thank you for your continued support. Please look for the PAT Action Assessment Survey, coming out later today. We will review and take to heart your priorities, and will always represent the voice of our amazing educators. 

In Solidarity,

Your PAT Bargaining Team

Steve Lancaster, Angela Bonilla, Emy Markewitz, Charity Powell, Francisca Alvarez, Thea Keith