PAT Member Desmond Spann featured on OEA Grow Podcast

PAT member Desmond Spann was this week’s guest on OEA's Grow podcast, talking about student motivation and engagement. Find Desmond's episode here. Find more Grow podcast episodes on OEA's website or wherever you get your podcasts.

President’s Message: ONE MORE E-MAIL?!

WELCOME BACK, EDUCATORS!

Wow, what a start to the school year! We are dealing with wildfire smoke and hot classrooms, multiple curricular adoptions, new admin, new staff, less staff, “post”-pandemic student needs, national politics, racial injustice, COVID and "all the traumas, problems, and issues we had before the list above!"

Thank you for coming back. You could have chosen to teach anywhere else but you came back to our Portland students and community, and we appreciate you.

UNIONS ON THE RISE

I don’t know about y’all, but everywhere I turn I see more and more workers coming together to build unions and fight for dignity in the workplace! We have seen the federal government scramble to do something about the railroad workers possibly striking. Mental Health Nurses under Kaiser in California have been on strike for a month over staffing ratios. Seattle Teachers just ended a strike over class sizes, Special Ed caseloads, interpretation and translation services for students. Columbus EA just settled a contract in August over pay and working conditions in buildings.  Unions are not only for the trades: Starbucks, Amazon, New Seasons… Our service workers know that they deserve safe and sustainable working conditions. 

With this rise in unionization across the nation, we are also seeing a renewed fight on the side of the employer. Starbucks, Amazon and New Seasons have all fired several union organizers across the country. Starbucks, for example, has given extra benefits to non-unionized stores as if that “benevolent gift” will be enough to convince workers they don’t need a union… Even though they only gave these benefits due to the THREAT of a union. As Fredrick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” 

We will get more educators into our profession by making sure we have livable wages, sustainable caseloads, safe working conditions, support for all students regardless of need, and to be treated like the trained professionals we are. The only way to make that happen is when we UNITE, when we ORGANIZE. The future of Public Education depends on it.

WHY SHOULD I READ THE ADVOCATE?

The Advocate is Portland Association of Teachers’ Bi-Monthly newsletter, keeping you up to date on what your union is doing for you, for our students, our community, and the greater good.

In the next few months, PAT will be:

  • Building Union Engagement, Solidarity & Accessibility through stronger internal structures and centering Racial Equity
  • Developing Community and Parent Solidarity around Community Schools through increased communication, internal & external organizing, and social media 
  • Creating Great Public Schools for All through our Contract Negotiations and the maintenance of our current contract

Please keep yourselves informed and up to date by checking out The Advocate, pdxteachers.org, @pdxteachers & @AbonillaPAT on Twitter, @patpres & @pdxteachers on Instagram and our public Facebook page, Portland Association of Teachers. (If you are interested in supporting our PAT communications team, please email us! We can’t compete with PPS’ ~$80k, but we have bubbly water!)

In Solidarity,

Angela Bonilla

President, Portland Association of Teachers

KYC: GIVE YOUR SCHEDULE A CHECK-UP!

Article 7 (Workday) of the PAT/PPS contract includes language to ensure a fair work schedule that allows you to support your students. Using the Schedule Check worksheet below, review the contract and your schedule. Select the worksheet appropriate for your assignment (grade level/building and full-time or part-time). You should also receive a copy of the worksheet from your PAT Building Rep.

An important part of our union’s ongoing work is making sure the terms of the contract are honored. All educators are responsible for checking their schedule to confirm it provides the contract hours, planning time, duty and lunch periods which the contract requires.

If your schedule needs adjustment, raise the issue now. If you have concerns about your schedule, talk to your administrator. Your PAT Building Representative is available to help.

KYC: ADVANCING ON THE SALARY SCHEDULE

Did you take coursework for salary credit this summer? 

If you completed coursework necessary to advance to another level on the salary schedule, proof of completion must be submitted to Human Resources (HR) by October 31st for salary adjustment retroactive to the beginning of the current school year. (Article 12.3.3).

If you miss this deadline, the salary adjustment will be effective the first day of the next pay period after verification is received by PPS HR. Contact Human Resources to confirm what verification is required and confirm verification of your coursework has been received by the HR Department.

KYC: SALARY PLACEMENT FOR NEW HIRES: CREDIT FOR TEACHING EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION LEVEL

Newly hired professional educators (including temporary educators) shall be placed on the PPS salary schedule based on their prior work experience and education/training level as provided in Article 12.2 of the PAT/PPS contract.

Proof of completion of coursework or degrees attained must be provided to the PPS Human Resources (HR) Department by October 31st to receive the salary adjustment retroactive to the beginning of the year. If proof is received after October 31st, the adjustment will be effective the first day of the next pay period after receipt by PPS HR.

Previous work experience in a PK-12 setting with responsibility like that of PPS educators may also be credited in placement on the PPS salary schedule. Review contract Article 12.2.2 to see if your prior experience is eligible for credit. Official verification must be submitted to the PPS Human Resources Department. Experience verified within sixty (60) days of the start of employment will be retroactive to the first day of employment.

KYC: USING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUNDS

The PAT/PPS contract provides funds for professional development as well as tuition reimbursement (Article 22). The Professional Improvement Fund allows educators to spend $1500 over three years for transportation, meals, lodging, and registration costs to attend a conference, provided it has a legitimate pedagogical purpose.

In our last contract negotiations, we ensured that these funds are also available to temporary teachers whose positions are expected to exist for more than 135 days.

You will need to follow these guidelines to access the Professional Improvement Fund. The District will also reimburse professional educators for tuition costs up to six (6) non-cumulative hours in a 12-month period for which graduate credit is granted by a college or university. See the PAT/PPS contract for details and the PPS website for how to access your tuition reimbursement.

KYC: PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCES

Your building may already be creating a schedule for Parent/Teacher Conferences in the fall. Evening conferences shall last no longer than three (3) hours and conclude by 8:30pm. A duty-free dinner break of at least sixty (60) consecutive minutes shall be scheduled prior to evening conferences. (Article 6.7.2)

Join a Committee!

Did you know that PAT's goals are met by the work done through our committees? Much of the union’s work is accomplished by PAT members serving on committees, benefiting all our colleagues and every Portland student. We would love to have you join us on a committee that interests you!

Committees meet at PAT (345 NE 8thfrom 4:30 – 6:30 PM and we provide dinner. Upcoming dates are listed below. If you are interested in joining a committee, please RSVP here

  • Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee (SJCO) members strengthen ties with other labor and community organizations and conduct open forums on topics like Special Education, Immigration Rights and Climate Justice. Next Meeting: Thu. Nov. 3rd 
  • The Racial Equity Committee is composed of educators of color whose goal is to build organizational capacity within PAT to honor, acknowledge, and center the lived experiences and stories of educators, along with students of color, within our union and inside PPS. This is an Affinity space for Educators of Color. Next Meeting: Wed. Nov. 9th
  • The Substitute Teacher Committee discusses best practice for substitute teachers and supports the bargaining team. Their work, along with our collective efforts, helped PAT win the strongest Substitute Teacher contract in Oregon. Next Meeting: Oct. TBD, Nov. 2nd
  • The Membership Committee offers workshops to help PAT members with issues such as student loan forgiveness, retirement planning, and interview skills for the transfer process. It also plans member activities such as the annual PAT “Party in the Park” and Retiree Reception. First Meeting: Wed. Oct. 5th.
  • The Instructional and Professional Development (IPD) Committee meets with PPS leadership monthly to advocate for better district-wide programs for all PAT members. They meet monthly with the district to plan and problem solve PPS initiatives that impact instruction and PD. Next Meeting: Wed. Oct. 12th 
  • The Legislative Committee works to support local legislation, elected leaders, and candidates for elected office who share our values, so that educators can influence our government to recognize the needs of our students and our profession. Next Meeting: Wed. Oct. 12th 
  • The Bargaining Committee  supports the Bargaining Team, including helping to develop, research, and vet bargaining proposals. It consists of members who work in a variety of job roles, with various lived experiences. This group is by invite only to ensure that we do not over represent any one work type. If interested, fill out this formNext meeting: Wed. Nov. 9th 
  • The Advocacy Committee reviews contract exceptions, and ensures that our current contract language is being followed. They meet with the district monthly to discuss widespread issues around the contract. This group is by invite only. We are looking for members who are strong advocates of our current contract language and who enjoy reading and interpreting contract language. Next meeting: Wed. Oct. 5th  

If you are interested in learning more, email PAT Vice President, Jacque Dixon at [email protected]

*For those interested in closed committees, PAT Leadership and/or chairs will reach out to you to discuss if it is a right fit.

If you are interested in learning more, email PAT Vice President, Jacque Dixon at [email protected]

Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee

SEPTEMBER 15th-OCTOBER 19th.

PAT Latinx Heritage Month resource materials are beginning to be renamed Latine Heritage Month. “Latine (pronounced la·ˈ​ti·​ne) is a gender-neutral form of the word Latino, created by LGBTQIA+, gender non-binary, and feminist communities in Spanish speaking countries. The objective of the term Latine is to remove gender from the Spanish word Latino, by replacing it with the gender-neutral Spanish letter E. This idea is native to the Spanish language and can be seen in many gender-neutral words like “estudiante”. – callmelatine.com 

There are many ways for people to name their racial, cultural, and ethnic identities. We also know that language evolves and as invested members of mutually sustaining communities, we need to listen to members of our community and recognize there will alway be multiple points of view. Here are some more resources if you are interested in additional thoughts about the terms Latine and Latinx, but more importantly, we encourage you to listen to those within your own community and follow their lead.

Why People Are Using the Term ‘Latinx’

What’s the Deal with Latinx? 

The X in Latinx is a Wound, not a Trend   

Call Me Latine    

From Hispanic to Latine

Heritage/Affinity Month Release Planning Day

Do you identify as Hispanic, Latine, Latino, Indigenous, Native American, or Filipino? Do you have a personal connection with folx with disabilities? On Friday, October 7th we will refine, revisit, and reimagine our current PAT resources for Latine Heritage Month and Indigenous/Native American Heritage Month. We will also begin to put together resources for Filipino Heritage Month and International Day of Persons with Disabilities. People who do not share an identity with these groups but have the desire to support and augment the work are also needed and invited. Indicate your interest HERE (space is limited, but we will contact everyone who signs up) and be entered to win a gift card to Third Eye Books! PAT will pay your substitute leave and will provide lunch at the PAT office.

 JOIN THE PAT FLYING SQUAD!

Click the link to learn about the PAT Flying Squad and what it has to do with union solidarity! See below for an example of union solidarity

UNION SOLIDARITY ACTION REGARDING COVID LEAVE

External Organizing

Let's build momentum and solidarity as we enter into bargaining for a fair contract!

Who: All community members who love teachers are invited to come by for a community drive thru event at the Portland Association of Teachers office!
Where: 345 NE 8th Ave, PDX, 97232
When: Saturday, October 15th from 12pm-2pm

  • Music + dancing 🎉
  • Free yard signs
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Spin the wheel
  • for more SWAG!!

Link to FB event here. Thanks for sharing!

Racial Equity Committee

Celebrate the Renaming of BESC after Dr. Matthew Prophet

WHAT:  The PPS School Board voted Unanimously on Tuesday September 20th to rename the BESC Building after Dr. Matthew Prophet, who served as Portland Public Schools Superintendent from 1982-1992.  Please join us at his virtual tribute on Saturday October 22nd!

For more information, contact: Lurlene Shamsud-Din: 971.354.0970 or Renee Anderson: 971. 207.1242  

Legislative Committee

Join us in supporting a Portland that works for everyone!

We are thrilled to share that PAT has announced our official support and endorsement of the Portland United for Change campaign to vote YES on Measure 26-228

We are excited by the real and comprehensive change that Measure 26-228 will bring to Portland’s government. Measure 26-228 strengthens our democracy by giving Portland voters more voice and more choice in City Council elections and making our government more accountable and responsive to community needs. Based on the feedback of thousands of Portlanders and the recommendations of the Portland Charter Commission, Measure 26-228 is our opportunity to move toward a more hopeful future for all of Portland. 

We’re not the only ones who are energized by this change. Our endorsement joins dozens and dozens of other civic, business, labor, and community organizations and leaders.

You can join us in supporting Measure 26-228 by donating to their campaign. Any amount you can give will go a long way to helping get the word out. 

If you are unable to donate but want to support the campaign, go to portlandunitedforchange.com/events to get involved. We are kicking off connecting with neighbors in-person THIS Saturday, Sept 24 at 1pm in Southeast Portland (location provided upon RSVP) and over the phone NEXT Tuesday, Sept 27th at 5:30pm

Join PUC:

  • At any of their weekly Tuesday phone banks 5:30-8:30 PM starting September 27th through the end of the election. 
  • Every Saturday and Sunday (morning or early afternoon), starting September 24th they will be knocking on neighbors’ doors in different parts of the city.

Training and materials will always be provided! Many types of volunteer opportunities are available.

And remember, vote YES on Measure 26-228 this Fall!

Get Involved in PAT PAC

NO meetings! NO committees! Just building our power by supporting endorsed candidates. Commit to ONE campaign activity per election cycle. Sign up here!

HOT TIP: Prepare for Absences!

Emergency sub plans: Please remember to make 3 days worth of Emergency Substitute Educator/Guest Teacher plans! These plans could include:

  • A general run down of the routine in your classroom: How do students ask to leave the classroom/space? Is there a morning Routine? Bell work? Typical end of period routine?
  • Make sure to leave a message for students in the folder reminding them to be flexible, and that with guest teachers sometimes things do not always stay the same and that is ok! 

How to Request a Substitute

Remember: As SOON as you start to feel sick or show any symptoms, please go to Absence Management and request a substitute. Then email your school secretary and admin sharing your absence. If you know you need to schedule a day in advance for training or Professional Development, please add your jobs to Absence Management ASAP.

Remember, you do NOT need to explain why, just what type of leave you are using. For example:

  • Sick leave (mental and physical): “I am unable to come in because of illness. I have already requested a substitute with Absence Management under the code SICK.”
  • Personal leave: “I am unable to come in due to an emergency [OR an appointment I cannot reschedule].  I have already requested a substitute with Absence Management under the code PERSONAL.”
  • Professional Development leave: “As we discussed, I am taking a day for PD today.  I have already requested a substitute with Absence Management under the code Professional Dev.”
  • COVID quarantine: “I have tested positive for COVID and must isolate for 5 days. I have put this into the notes on Absence Management under the code ‘Quarantine’. I will let you know if my symptoms have not improved and I must continue to isolate after the 5 days of my isolation period.”

NEW: Each One Teach One (EOTO)

There are some things grad school prepares you for and some things it does not. Many go to trusted colleagues to get this information, but it can be hard to know what you don’t know. If you are a new educator, you may not know who to even ask! PAT will start holding one hour sessions where educators can get concrete support around classroom basics like creating a para educator schedule, preparing for a substitute, and how to create small groups for workshop models. The goal is that we share the instructional knowledge we have with each other outside of our buildings and departments.

  • Come prepare a substitute binder! (ZOOM): Angela Bonilla will share the Substitute Binder format she learned from a former Climate Coach, Niki Johnson + Substitute plan templates from our Substitute Committee! This will be a 1 hour session where you will be given access to Google Docs and other resources to prepare for substitutes.
    • Date: Tuesday October 11th
    • Time: 4:30pm-5:30 PM
    • Where: Zoom
  • If you are interested in running your own EOTO, please reach out to our IPD committee.

OEA and NEA Opportunities

  • OEA has grants and Professional Development available for educators! Learn more here!
  • OEA Mediation Network: Get Support!
    • The OEA Mediation Network is currently accepting cases to mediate peer to peer conflict at the building level. We generally see three areas of conflict: communication, decision making, and professionalism. OEA mediators will partner with a professional mediator to meet with each party individually and coordinate a time for mediation. During the mediation they will facilitate difficult conversations and help the parties find a solution that works for everyone. It is a collaborative, problem solving opportunity that builds union power. Please go to the website (https://oregoned.org/mediation) or connect with them directly at [email protected].
      We are now accepting interest forms to join our Second Cohort. An interest form can now be completed here. 
  • OEA Mediation: Become a Mediator!
    • The OEA Mediation Network is seeking applicants to join our next cohort of mediators.  This service to members is thoroughly outlined at our Mediation Webpage. We are seeking neutral, non-judgmental problem solvers from all across Oregon.  It is our goal that the mediators at the table have a similar lived experience to the folks in conflict, and therefore welcome applicants from all job families, classifications, and years of experience.  Here are the details about this program:
    • To become a mediator, you will complete a 32 hours, 4 day certification class.  We will cover the cost of your sub, travel, food and lodging.  
      • Fri/Sat Oct 7-8 in Portland
      • Fri/Sat Oct 21-22 in Eugene 

We meet monthly via Zoom for ongoing training and support.

We ask that people commit to being a part of our program for at least 2 years. 

You will co-mediate with an experienced mediator, usually with 1-3 cases per year. 

If you are interested in being a part of the OEA Mediation Network, please complete this brief application form: https://oregonea.wufoo.com/forms/oea-volunteer-mediator-application/

Feel free to reach out with any questions you have about our program: Peter Bauer, OEA Union School, Field Education and Training Coordinator, [email protected]

  • NEA info on the Teacher Pay Gap
  • NEA Training available under the Center for Just & Equitable Schools! Learn more HERE

Upcoming Events

  • Next RA: Wed. 10/19/22, 4:30-6:30 PM 
  • Next E-Board: Wed. 9/28/22, 4:30-7:30 PM 
  • External Org Drive-Thru @ PAT: Sat. 10/15/22, 12-2 PM
  • Rep Retreat: Agate Beach, Newport-Sat. 10/1- Sun. 10/2

PAT Committees

  • Advocacy Committee: 10/05/22, 4:30-6:30 PM 
  • Membership Committee: 10/5/22, 4:30-6:30 PM 
  • IPD Committee: 10/12/22, 4:30-6:30 PM 
  • Legislative Committee: 10/12/22, 4:30-6:30 PM
  • SJCO Committee: 11/03/22, 4:30-6:30 PM 
  • Bargaining Committee: 11/09/22, 4:30-6:30 PM
  • Racial Equity Committee: 11/09/22, 4:30-6:30 PM 
  • Substitute Teacher Committee: Oct. TBD, 4:30-6:30 PM 

For all upcoming events, please see the PAT calendar and OEA calendar.

PAT President Angela Bonilla is Featured on OPB's Think Out Loud

New PAT President Angela Bonilla was recently featured on OPB's Think Out Loud. Talking with Dave Miller, Angela discusses the challenges of last year and the supports educators need to then support their students and communities. Hear first hand Angela's thoughts on moving the union forward and the work that lies ahead.

Hear the whole interview on Think Out Loud's website (runtime 14:59).

Response to SCOTUS Decision, Roe v Wade

Educator --

As a human, a femme non-binary person, a Black Latine person, a queer person, all the ways I exist have had to mourn and feel angry this weekend. The decision passed down by the Supreme Court this week for Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned decades of precedent around the right to privacy. These are the rights that marginalized folks have built and won. I have received communication from members and understand your urgency. I thank you all for your patience as I process this myself and figure out what to say in response. 

As US Labor Against Racism and War explains, “Make no mistake. Reproductive health care is a workers’ issue and overturning Roe v Wade is a racist attack on our sisters. The SCOTUS decision today will only affect those women of limited economic means and disproportionately impact poor and working women of color. The health and safety of our sisters are all at risk.” I would add that this decision also disproportionately impacts our trans and non-binary siblings looking for gender affirming and reproductive healthcare.

This is a union issue because our fight for justice is not for just us: It is for all working class folks. As the largest education local in the state, we help hold the line against these classist, sexist, transphobic, abilist and racist attacksI believe part of my role as your elected leadership is to make sure that whatever we ask of PAT (that's us, each and every member) is impactful and intentional. It becomes performance when it isn't rooted in community and is not led by and prioritizing those directly impacted or harmed.

In terms of our knowledge and acting in service to our community, I have tried to gather resources and support for PAT Leadership to vet and share out. That living document can be found HERE. Please let me know if there are any organizations you feel are supporting this work towards human rights and access to reproductive health that we can review and spotlight at [email protected]. I know we have a broad scope of member expertise and talent we can deploy to spaces where they are needed. 

What I know and trust is that we will never accept a world that decides that some have freedom over their bodies and others do not. We will not allow the privileged few to undo the centuries of struggle working class folks in this country have done to get closer to the promise of liberty and justice for all. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We may feel hopeless now, but we can and will do what it takes to make America “the land it never has been and yet must be”.

Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other.

En solidaridad y con cariño,
Angela Bonilla (she/they/ella)
President Elect, Portland Association of Teachers
[email protected]

Portland Association of Teachers
http://www.pdxteachers.org/

President’s Message: We Are PAT

Dear Educator,

It is a bittersweet task to write this, my final President’s Message. It has been my great honor to serve as the president of our union these past two years, and especially during a time of crisis, change, and uncertainty, when the united voice of educators has been more crucial than ever. For all of us, it has been a challenging time to say the least, but I am awed and humbled by what we have accomplished together.

Our union has not only survived the pandemic, we have met every challenge head on. Here are just a few things we achieved together in the last two years: 

  • Becoming a leading voice in an international conversation about the educator workload crisis
  • Strengthening ties with our PPS union partners, SEIU, PFSP, DCU, and ATU, including organizing together for safe and stable schools
  • Organizing with parents across the district for smaller class sizes and more building-based supports for students
  • Bargaining some of the strongest pandemic safety language in the country, enabling us to serve our students in-person while mitigating risk to students, educators, and the community
  • Elevating the voice of educators, through our IPC meetings with district leaders, town halls, and work with elected leaders
  • Bringing elected leaders into our classrooms, through Teacher for a Day, so they can experience the teaching and learning conditions that we live each day
  • Initiating the Advocacy Cadre, empowering members to know and enforce our contract
  • Winning ground-breaking contract language to advance racial equity in our union and in our schools
  • Building community amongst members, in our buildings and across the district through our committee work, projects, and celebrations

Educators have accomplished all this and more--despite an ongoing pandemic, distance learning, hybrid instruction, and intermittent shutdowns; while teaching through masks and over the noise of the air purifier; despite a chronic staffing shortage in our schools, and a revolving-door leadership in our district.  Despite all this, PAT members show up to fight for what our students deserve, and what our profession requires. 

Our power comes from our shared dedication to students, and our belief in what we can accomplish together as a union. 

Of course, we build PAT collectively, so there are many people I would like to recognize and thank: 

  • Gwen Sullivan, our out-going PAT Vice President, who has been a peerless advocate, leader, and partner
  • Our incredible PAT staff who consistently go above and beyond for our members 
  • Our elected PAT officers, Executive Board directors, and OEA Board directors who set and oversee our collective goals 
  • Our Committee Chairs and members of every PAT committee, who work to carry out those goals
  • Each one of our 350+ Building Representatives who are the frontline of our union, and who build solidarity and uphold our contract at every work site
  • Our Advocacy Cadre members, who have empowered so many Reps and members with the knowledge of our contract
  • Our unparalleled Bargaining Teams, both for regular certified educators and for substitutes 
  • Our Internal Organizers and External Organizers who build our unity and power
  • Our Retired members who continue to be active in PAT, whose wisdom and energy continue to bolster us
  • Every member who showed up at school board meeting in blue this year
  • And every member who has helped a colleague in need or advocated for our profession 

Our union is powerful because we share the load and do this work together. 

I am grateful to our incoming PAT leaders, and look forward to supporting them, alongside all of you, next year.

WE are PAT, and I could not be more proud to be a member of our union.

In Solidarity forever,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

Know Your Contract: Can I Be Required to Work This Summer?

PPS is sending frequent communications about opportunities for summer professional development and training.  We want to make sure that everyone understands their rights. Article 6, Section 3.6 of your PAT/PPS Contract states:

“Professional educators who work beyond the 192-day work year shall be paid a daily rate of pay computed at 1/192 of their annual basic salary. With the exception of Sections 6.3.1, 6.3.3, 6.3.4, 6.3.5, 6.3.7, 6.3.8, and 6.3.9, professional educators shall not be assigned work beyond the standard work year unless there is mutual agreement between the administrator and the professional educator.” 

This is commonly paraphrased as, “summer trainings must be both paid and voluntary.” What you need to know is that you have the right to decline to participate in summer training. Anything that PPS or your administrator requires of you must be offered during your regular work-day and work-year.

Of course, if you would like to do the summer training, you should. But if you’d rather do them in the fall, you have the right to do that, and they have a duty to accommodate that preference. 

If you are feeling pressured to sign up for summer training and do not wish to work beyond your regular work-year, an appropriate reply to an email invitation might be, “I am available to participate in that training on or after August 24.”