Letter from PAT to PPS Leadership: Listen to Families of Color

Dear Educator,

Last week, PPS announced an intention to move toward a Hybrid model of instruction in April.

As schools begin making plans to open buildings for in-person instruction, members of our union have expressed a deep concern for how reopening buildings, while Covid-19 is still spreading, will negatively impact our students of color, whose families have been most impacted by the pandemic.

These concerns are underscored by the fact that, to our knowledge, neither PPS nor ODE have gathered meaningful and widespread input from families of color to learn if the goal of returning to live instruction is in line with the needs and wishes of families of color in our district.

Looking at other large school districts around the country, there is a pattern that when schools have reopened, families of color have been the least likely to choose to attend live classes. In other words, in order to provide an in-person option, those districts are shifting resources away from students of color remaining in distance learning, in order to create an opportunity that will most likely benefit white students. Rather than closing the opportunity gap, the likely impact in these cases is to widen it. 

The PAT Executive Board sent the attached letter to state and district leaders. It asks the District to intentionally seek the input of educators and families of color, and to be transparent about the results, before shifting resources toward the goal of implementing a Hybrid instructional model.

We know that reopening our school buildings for live instruction is a complex issue, and that the conditions and dynamics are constantly shifting. We will be surveying all members in the coming week to hear your perspective on a Hybrid opening. Look for it in your email.

Elizabeth Thiel