Bargaining Brief- February 4, 2021
Your PAT Bargaining Team met with PPS on Thursday, February 4th (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) to review the District’s response to the PAT “Community Support” proposals, to listen to a report from PPS regarding the current state of ventilation and indoor air quality in PPS buildings, and to begin a discussion of the PPS plan for a return to in-person instruction.
Your Team is pleased to announce that the District has finally agreed to the PAT proposal regarding substitute educator support for students who are facing difficulties fully engaging in Comprehensive Distance Learning. The finalized language gives PAT professional educators the ability to work with building administration to assign a fully trained and licensed substitute educator to work with particular students. It has taken since August of 2020 to get PPS to agree to such a commonsense and needed proposal, but on Thursday we finally broke through. If you believe that one or more of your students would benefit from additional support beyond what is available in your school, please email your building administrator with a request for the support of a substitute educator.
Although the final community support language is not what we all know PPS should and could be doing to help the students and families we serve, the language does create joint agreements that will assist Portland families get the services they deserve.
The District’s presentation regarding indoor air quality safeguards and ventilation capacity was vague at best. At this time we are reviewing district documents and statements to get a better picture about the health of the approximately 80 PPS school buildings.
After the ventilation discussion was finished and agreements for community support were reached, PAT directly asked the PPS team to explain its plan to transition into an in-person educational model. The resulting discussion was distressing. PPS announced that it intends PAT members to provide both in-person and distance learning simultaneously, in a plan it calls a “Simulcast” model. PPS intends this “Simulcast” model to begin around the start of the fourth quarter. When asked what districts they are drawing their inspiration from or where such a model is working well to serve students, no one on the District’s bargaining team could reference a single example.
PPS intends PAT members to make sure that students are engaged in in-person instruction, while at the same time making sure students watching the lessons via video are also fully engaged. No details were provided as to how precisely students viewing instruction remotely would participate beyond being passive observers of instruction. The district plan is currently set to begin some time in April, when there will only be a few weeks of the school year remaining. What isn’t clear is how PPS believes it’s plan will actually be successful for students.
The “Simulcast” plan will give parents the choice to have their elementary school students attend school in a hybrid model or to attend school in a fully CDL model. The hybrid plan contends that some students will attend school four days a week for core subjects and then attend online classes for science, social studies, and electives. While that hybrid model is in place the plan also enables some students to remain in a fully CDL model. Those students will receive all of their instruction online, half of the day watching classes in which some of their peers are actually in an in-person model. From district official’s comments, it seems that educators will need to stay in front of a camera to meet the needs of the students in CDL, but also manage a class of online students. Educators will need to be focused on CDL students AND in-person students at the same time.
Your PAT Team is concerned that the District’s plan creates an instant opportunity gap. It appears that students who are in a CDL model will not receive an education equal to those in the District’s version of a Hybrid model of instruction. At this time, we are unsure how PAT members will have the time or ability to create lessons that work equally well in an online format and in an in-person class. We are unsure how an educator can meet the needs of students watching a class while also keeping students socially distant and on-task in an in-person model. Finally, we are unsure how an educator can spend time creating in-person pandemic-classroom norms and provide continuous instruction, while also keeping an online relationship with students who attend a fully CDL school model.
What is abundantly clear is that PPS is also unsure how these things will happen. The District appears to desperately want to be able to claim that it has “reopened” school buildings, regardless of the potential harm to students, their families, or the professional educators who serve them.
We know that PAT members also want schools to reopen for in-person instruction, and we know that all of you have worked all year to create a Comprehensive Distance Learning experience for students that works, even if that version of “works” is imperfect. Your Team believes that the LIPI agreement that was reached just a few weeks ago will give the District the ability to further enhance the CDL experience for students. It seems that rather than enter a program that is so fundamentally flawed, the District should help educators make the CDL model as successful as it possibly can be. Although your Team holds those ideas at this time, we know that we need to hear from all of you before we make final proposals around this issue.
The PAT is sending a survey to all PAT members asking for member reaction to the District’s plan for a “Simulcast” model of Hybrid instruction.
We ask that each member take the survey as soon as they receive it. We want to represent our members at the bargaining table, and we can’t do that without each of you providing responses. As in all things, our ability to move your issues forward in bargaining is a direct result of our unity.
Bargaining Brief- January 26, 2021
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.
Bargaining Brief- January 12, 2021
Your PAT Bargaining Team was able to reach final agreement on language regarding work under Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI) conditions. As we will mention in the Advocate later today, we did all we could to find a way to protect the safety of PAT members who volunteer to serve students in a LIPI setting, and to enable PAT members to serve distinct groups of students who have specific needs.
(Links to view the bargaining sessions from January 6- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5- and January 12- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)
The ten-point Agreement for LIPI Safety Conditions (view here) contains significant guarantees for PAT members. The agreement requires the District to provide professional development on safety protocols prior to the start of LIPI, and that “only professional educators who volunteer will provide LIPI.” Those two elements mean that no PAT member can be forced to provide LIPI or be punished/discriminated against for not being willing to provide LIPI. In addition, the agreement holds that an educator must be able to review the workspace that will be used for LIPI, and that once LIPI begins, an educator can essentially ‘un-volunteer’ if they do not feel safe or if safety conditions change.
The agreement also specifically states that even if a room can accommodate twenty students, an educator, in consultation with their building administrator, may divide the group into “sub cohorts.” This means that an educator can evaluate and determine the best way to serve the students, and the building administrator and educator can collaborate on how to make the educator’s ideas work.
Finally, if an educator who volunteers to provide LIPI is working with a student(s) who cannot wear a mask, the educator can request and receive KN95 (or equivalent) masks, face shields, protective garments, and gloves.
This agreement empowers educators to be in charge of their working conditions and provides some much needed support for students.
Bargaining Brief- December 11, 2020
Your PAT Bargaining Team is happy to announce that on Friday, December 11, 2020 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), we made significant progress with PPS towards finalizing an agreement regarding Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI). The Agreement guarantees that educators have autonomy in determining how to carry out Limited In-Person Instruction.
Though NOT in signed form, the discussion led to verbal agreements as follows:
1) Guaranteeing that LIPI instruction will be provided by educators on a voluntary basis. If the district cannot find a volunteer from the regularly employed PAT membership, PPS will open the positions to PAT substitute educators.
2) Recognizing the added workload on educators who do both LIPI and regular on-line instruction. Volunteers who agree to provide LIPI during teacher-directed time in their regular schedule will be paid at their individual per-diem hourly rate for all lost teacher-directed time plus for an additional hour per week for time spent planning LIPI sections.
3) Guaranteeing that educators who volunteer can rescind their volunteer offer if they do not feel safe once they inspect the space provided for LIPI, or if they feel that the time required or safety issues are too great to continue.
What helped the two teams make such quick progress was the presentation of the PAT’s COVID-19 LIPI Interests survey results. It was clear to both teams that most PAT members believe that the workload and safety concerns related to in-person instruction prohibit large-scale LIPI activities.
Your team and the PPS team agreed that the state’s cap of twenty students in a LIPI cohort could be divided up however the volunteer educator feels provides for safety, student needs, and pedagogical efficacy. For example, if a classroom has an in-person capacity of 14 students (35 square-feet per student), the professional educator could divide the two-hour time period of LIPI into two groups of 7 students, with one hour for each group.
The two bargaining teams are so close to agreement on language that they will exchange proposals via email in order to speed up the process.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to address the PAT proposals that would guarantee adequate support for families and communities. (View PAT’s Permissive Community Interest Proposal here.) While the PAT team originally put forward a version of these proposals back in August, we provided the District with a newer version of them the day before bargaining on December 11. Our proposals include adding dedicated staff teams to consistently support students whose needs are not being met by CDL, providing physical materials to students who need them, and providing communications and supports to families in their preferred language. PAT continues to believe that supporting our students and families is vital to making distance learning more successful. We will address those proposals when we return from winter break.
Bargaining Re-Opening/LIPI Survey Results
Brief sent to PAT membership, December 13, 2020
The PAT Bargaining Team will be meeting with the District again today to continue discussions from 12:15 to 4:15PM. Please tune in on the PAT YouTube channel to watch the live stream of this meeting.
Portland Association of Teachers
Bargaining Brief, November 24, 2020
Fellow PAT Educators:
Your bargaining team met with PPS on November 13th and November 19th [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]. Although there have not been any new tentative agreements to come out of those sessions, both teams did make some significant headway on issues.
On November 13th, the PAT presented a proposal regarding working conditions for Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI), and then went on a “tour” of Woodmere Elementary School. PPS wanted to demonstrate the efforts that have been taken to make Woodmere ready for Hybrid instruction. The result of the tour was interesting to both teams.
To begin with, your PAT team was impressed with the efforts of building administration and PPS Facilities workers to get Woodmere as ready as it could be. The building was sufficiently clean, marked for proper distance, and administrators were working on protocols so that students might safely function in a building setting.
At the same time, it was apparent that even with those efforts, the building was far, far from ready to have students enter the building safely and engage in meaningful learning. Issues about the entry of students, access to restrooms, hallway behavior, lunch room capability, etc., clearly demonstrated that students would be forced to function like little machines to be able to keep proper distancing as well as continually wear masks and follow hand-washing protocols. Even with the efforts of the building staff, the reality of COVID-19 makes it clear that a safe in-person environment does not yet exist.
Most surprising of all was the District’s understandable, but inadequate, response to building air-exchange systems. When your bargaining team asked representatives from Facilities what the air filtration standards were, we were told that “the standards are what the building heating and cooling system will allow.” In other words, there are no district-wide standards. Instead, the standard for each building is to “do the best it can” to provide clean air to a room in a building. Needless to say, that is not an acceptable or scientific standard for air quality, and your PAT team has made that clear to PPS.
On November 19th the two teams met again and discussed the District’s counter-proposal to PAT LIPI safety demands. A clear difference between the two groups is that PPS wants to be able to require a professional educator to work in-person with students (if they can’t find a volunteer), and PAT’s position requires that members work in-person with students on a voluntary-only basis.
Your PAT team has made a few issues clear. One is that we want educators to be able to choose to work in-person or to remain working in a CDL setting. Secondly, your PAT team has been firm that the environment for voluntary in-person education must be as safe as possible in the face of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, we have been clear that it is not yet appropriate to discuss Hybrid models of instruction, let alone full in-person education. Current health conditions simply make those goals unreasonable.
We meet again on December 4th to discuss LIPI conditions, safety, and Community-Support language.
Your team wants to wish all of you a happy, healthy, and safe break from work. We will continue to do all we can to fight for all of you, and for the good of our students and their families.
Bargaining Brief, October 16, 2020
The bargaining session on Friday, October 16 (view here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) resulted in some major gains for all PAT members. The PAT and PPS bargaining teams reached tentative agreements on one complete section of the 2020 – 2021 Distance and Hybrid Work Agreement (view signed TA document here).
One of the most important issues settled Friday is working conditions for educators who have a total assignment of less than .66 FTE. We were able to get an agreement that guarantees no less than the prorated amount of the 950 minutes per week of educator-directed time. That means that .5 FTE teachers get at least 475 minutes of educator-directed time. In addition, those educators are not required to attend PLC meetings, which means that some individuals may receive more than the prorated educator-directed time.
Both teams agreed to terms for PLC meetings. We were able to get the district to agree that the extraordinary number of PLC meetings is not an expectation for schedules once we return to a “normal” school year. PLC meeting time must now be divided into two parts. The first half of the time must follow a schedule agreed to by the building instructional team and the building administrator, and the second half must be mutually agreed to by the administrator and the professional educators in the meeting. Starting this week, professional educators have a real say in how the PLC meetings are conducted.
We reached agreement on access to technology. Although we could not move the district to accepting a tech stipend for educators, we were able to get the district to accept that educators can not only have access to their classrooms if they want to conduct CDL lessons from their school building, but educators are also able to bring home any technology that would normally be part of their classroom tech setup. That means that technology normally locked to carts in classrooms may now be taken home by professional educators who need to work away from the school buildings. Additionally, professional educators are to have access to copy machines and any other shared resources or equipment at their worksite. Finally, educators are to have access to supplies / consumables that would normally be available during in person instruction for use at home.
We finalized the evaluation agreement by including language on Student Learning Goals (SLGs). Now, educators must submit two SLGs and one professional growth goal. The goals can be focused on SEL, family or student engagement, and they are not due until November 1st.
Finally, we agreed to language regarding the PAT Extended Responsibility positions. The agreement is complicated, but in general:
- If the ER is not being conducted (e.g. Safety Patrol) then ER will be canceled until in-person education resumes.
- If the ER position is still going on, even with reduced elements (e.g. testing coordinator) the ER will be paid in full.
- If the ER position is directly connected to an educator’s class and marked with an asterisk on the ER schedule, the ER will be paid in full, although if the number of performances expected is reduced the rate of pay may be changed.
- Athletic ER has its own section which grants pay for proportions of seasons worked, rather than no pay at all.
Negotiations regarding the COVID work environment is not concluded. We still need to bargain “safe return to in-person instruction” language, and community/family support language. Once those are completed, we will bring the full MOA to members for ratification.
Once ratified, PAT and PPS will begin to bargain for the successor agreement to the current CBA. We have a great deal of work ahead, but thanks to your support and engagement we have been able to move the district to agreements that protect everyone.Continue reading
Bargaining Brief- October 2 & 9, 2020
We have some progress in bargaining to report. PAT and PPS bargaining teams met on October 2nd and again on October 9th. (The October 2nd meeting can be viewed here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. The October 9th meeting can be viewed here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.) The result of those sessions are a number of agreements on working conditions.
The first set of agreements cover evaluations. Starting now:
- All goal setting is pushed back to November 1st, and the goals are to be SEL goals rather than academic goals.
- No educator is to be negatively rated or impacted if they are not able to achieve the SEL goal. No observation is to take place prior to November 1st.
- All probationary educators, regardless of their year in the probationary process, will follow the timelines for probationary 3 educators.
We finally agreed to form a committee to modify the existing educator rubric so that the rubric identifies and encourages proficient and distinguished practice, and which recognizes that educators need support rather than unsatisfactory ratings on an evaluation.
Last but not least, any educator on a Plan of Assistance (POA) that began prior to the COVID shutdown, or who was to be put on a POA, will have the plan restarted only after the PAT and PPS meet to agree which ones are appropriate to continue prior to full in-person education resuming.
In a major workload improvement for some PAT members, the two sides agreed to 1.0 FTE Technical Assistant professional educators for both School Psychologists and SLPs.
Although we did not reach agreement, your PAT team was able to make progress on fair working conditions for .5 FTE educators, and for terms related to providing services to students by Social Workers, Counselors, School Psychologists, Speech Language Pathologists, and QMHPs.
We meet again on October 16th to discuss part-time work conditions in addition to other PAT proposals.Continue reading
Bargaining Brief- September 28, 2020
On Monday, September 28, your bargaining team met with PPS to try again to reach agreement on topics that directly impact PAT members’ work lives. The meeting can be viewed here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
We spent the entire session exchanging proposals dealing with the evaluation procedure during this CDL year.
On a positive note, we reached an agreement on language that directs evaluators to recognize that educators need support and assistance during CDL rather than evaluations designed to identify unsatisfactory performance.
In addition, PPS agreed that professional educators must receive notice that an administrator will conduct a drop-in observation either by receiving a communication prior to the class starting, or by having the administrator announce their presence when they enter the CDL class.
Finally, the two sides agreed that for any Plan of Assistance (POA) either planned or started prior to March 2020, the PAT and PPS HR would meet to determine whether or not the plan should remain on hold until we return to in-person instruction, or whether the plan can move forward.
The two sides could not reach agreement on the timeline for adjusting the current evaluation for CDL conditions, or on what could happen if the timeline isn’t met. If a committee of PAT members and PPS administrators cannot complete modifying the current evaluation tool by the end of October, PPS proposed that it could evaluate educators using the existing, unmodified tool.
As all of you know, the existing tool is designed for a traditional in-person educational model. Even the quickest review of that rubric makes clear that the descriptors for distinguished, proficient, developing, and unsatisfactory performance generally don’t apply to distance learning. Determining an employee’s career status using an evaluation tool that is specifically not suited to current conditions is simply wrong. PAT will not agree to any settlement that gives PPS that ability.
The agreements we reached were accomplished after almost eight hours of bargaining the same topic. Your team simply will not allow PPS to apply a “trust us” approach to any topic as significant as your evaluations.
The two sides meet again on Friday, October 2nd. We hope to make additional progress then.
In Solidarity,Continue reading
Bargaining Brief, September 23rd
PAT and PPS bargained Wednesday, September 23rd from about 12:15 until 3:15; you may view the sessions here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Our discussion focused almost entirely on evaluations of professional educators during CDL.
Although there were some areas of agreement, the two sides were unable to reach agreement. PPS agreed with PAT that educators primarily need support during CDL, but they asserted that the District must retain the right to non-extend or non-renew an educator based on distance learning evaluations. Astoundingly, they recognize that no one in the district, including administrators, is fully experienced in distance online learning, and yet the PPS bargaining team insisted on having the ability to remove a teacher from teaching because of unsatisfactory performance teaching students during CDL.
The right and requirement to evaluate educators is part of Oregon state law, but the moments of a tone deaf approach by the PPS district-administrators was surprising.
The two teams agreed in concept to form a committee whose responsibility is to modify the existing evaluation rubric so that it is applicable to distance learning. The committee will have equal numbers of PAT-appointed members and District management, and the District wants the committee to complete its task by October 26th. According to the District, if the committee can’t complete the job by the 26th, PPS administrators will be able to evaluate educators using the existing rubric. The District is adamant about this even though they have admitted that the rubric is unsuited to current teaching and learning conditions. Your PAT team totally rejects that position and will continue to fight to achieve humane and sensible evaluation language.
Until we have a complete agreement on the topic, PAT professional educators may have administrators do drop-in observations, but no educator should have a formal observation conducted.
Your PAT team meets with the District again on September 28th from noon until 4 to continue negotiations.