Making National News (for the Wrong Reasons)

The proposed cuts in the state legislature are so devastating that we’ve made national news. In a recent NEA article, PAT member Sarah Spella laid out how cuts to art, music, and PE create additional workload for other classroom educators:


In Oregon, the Portland Public School District sent an email to PE teachers saying there would be substantial cuts to the K-5 and K-8 PE programs resulting from major budget cuts.

 The district said cuts are not “a statement as to the value and worth of our physical education staff and PE programming.” But educators who recognize the benefits of exercise and the critical lessons movement and sports provide to children see it differently.

“These opportunities for the kids are essential for their education.”

Portland is poised to cut more than art, music, and PE. PPS is also cutting counselors and media specialists, AND they’re proposing larger classes. Fewer educators means our students won’t get the quality education they deserve, and those of us who remain will be picking up the slack.

Of course this is a key issue in contract talks, as our bargaining team spelled out in the latest bargaining brief

Staffing and workload continue to be the biggest areas of disagreement. Without adequate funding for schools, the District is planning to reduce PAT positions by close to 130 FTE. This results in increased caseloads and class sizes for all. We know that we cannot maintain all working conditions in this funding environment, but we continue to disagree on the workload protections members should have.

The situation is unacceptable, but it will continue as long as Oregon allows corporations to get away without paying their fair share. The latest budget from Salem projects no new revenue. The Ways and Means budget for 2017-19 allocates $7.8 billion for the State School Fund, a 3 percent cut. The Committee arrived at $7.8 billion by combining about $7.725 billion in general fund and lottery revenue, plus about $75 million in marijuana tax revenue. The Ways and Means Co-Chairs also allocated two-thirds of Measure 98’s mandated funding, about $197 million, which will come out of the “Other Education” funding line, the same one used to pay for Head Start and many specialized programs for reading, nutrition and special education.

Our students, and our state, deserve better. Contact the legislature now and tell them what’s at stake.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Cohen
PAT President