Bargaining Brief, December 6th, 2021

PAT Colleagues:

Your PAT Bargaining Team met again today with the District from 1:00 until about 5:30 PM. You can review our updated proposal and the recordings of the session here Part I and Part II.   

We want to thank the entire PAT membership for responding to the survey we sent to all of you last week. Your quick and thoughtful responses gave the team real guidance. In addition, your PAT team really felt the support from the collective actions that members have held in so many buildings. Thank you for taking action to fight for the needs of our students.

Today, PPS finally presented a formal proposal for professional educator and student relief. You can watch this in Part I.

For elementary schools, the District offered a kind of “A or B” proposal. Proposal A was dependent on TOSAs, Mentor teachers, COSAs, and QMHP’s covering classes for a few hours, once a month, for grade level teams at all elementary schools. To your PAT team, any proposal that overworks some members to give minimal relief to others is not acceptable. Proposal B was to have an early release, one day a month for three months, to create time for PLCs and planning.

Similarly, for middle and high school, the District proposed an altered schedule, one day a month for three months, to create a few hours of teacher planning time. 

PPS doesn’t seem to understand that the gravity of its own data requires a set of significant interventions. Students and professional educators are truly struggling under the stress of this year, yet PPS feels that 44 additional planning minutes per month for high school educators, 36 additional planning minutes per month at middle schools and 50 minutes a month at elementary schools and K-8’s (for just three months) will somehow make things OK. The anemic response from PPS in the face of such critical problems is irresponsible and does nothing to help ensure stability in our schools or a quality education for our students. 

In Part II of today’s bargain, your PAT team presented a more in-depth look at our proposals for a weekly Flex/Tutorial day at our high schools, and a weekly early-release at our elementary and middle schools, describing what they could look like for students and educators. We illustrated how, under our Flex/Tutorial day proposal, high school students who need extra support could get a full-day of in-person time with teachers, counselors, and other school staff, while educators could have a half-day to plan, collaborate, and communicate with parents. 

At one point, Mr. Garcia challenged PAT on whether there is any connection between professional educator planning time and student success. To anyone who has ever worked in a classroom with students, this was a troubling moment of huge disconnect - we believe our students deserve an education that is both thoughtful and deliberate, not one that was pieced together with little to no time for an educator to account for the unique student needs in their classroom. It was particularly notable because PPS has acknowledged the need for additional time to meet student needs. Our proposals are designed to support students that are falling further behind with each day and who are experiencing unaddressed emotional and behavioral dysregulation. The District's proposals simply do not meet the critical needs of our most vulnerable students. We encourage you to watch the session

One element that was positive is that PPS seems to actually want to discuss the issues you are all facing. We meet with the District again on December 16th and 17th and we hope to have a resolution on those two days. 

As always, it is because of your support that we are able to collectively achieve improvements for educators and students. Thank you again for all you do for your colleagues and for Portland families and students. 

 

In Solidarity,

 

Your PAT Bargaining Team

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

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

Bargaining Brief, November 29, 2021

Dear Educator, 

Today your PAT Bargaining Team met with representatives from PPS to start the bargaining for workload relief in the COVID-19 pandemic.  You can review the complete PAT proposal here, and watch the recorded session here: Part IPart IIPart III.   

Our proposal contains two key concepts that we absolutely know the District can accomplish, to the benefit of students and educators as all of us return from Winter Break.

First, we are looking to have all “non-essential” activities stop. That means fewer committee meetings, fewer staff meetings, suspending/postponing many educator-evaluations, and removing busy-work from PLC meetings.  

Secondly, we are looking to restructure elements of the work week so that professional educators can focus on meeting student and family needs: at the  Elementary and Middle School levels, we proposed a weekly early-release; for High Schools, we proposed converting 8-period “skinny days” to become days for Flex-time/office hours and asynchronous learning.  We also proposed converting a few days to professional development days focused on school climate, and additional planning days so that professional educators can adapt curriculum to meet the needs of students.  

By making these adjustments,  we believe we can provide our students with a better experience, create real relief for educators so the staffing crisis stops getting worse, and provide a stable and sustainable plan for the rest of the school year. 

PPS spent much of the day in caucus working on how to respond to the PAT proposal, and your team expects a full counter-proposal from PPS tomorrow.  We bargain again tomorrow from 1 - 6 PM, and we will live-stream the session and post them here.

In Solidarity

Your PAT Bargaining Team,

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




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

Bargaining for Immediate Workload Relief and Time to Get It Right for Our Students

Dear Professional Educator,

On November 29th and 30th, your PAT Bargaining Team will meet with representatives from PPS to bargain for immediate and much needed workload relief that centers student safety and social-emotional needs, and that directs the District resources where they are needed the most, into the classroom and for wrap-around supports.

For a year and a half, the ongoing pandemic has disrupted our school system and our entire community. This year, students at every grade level need so much more from our public schools, both academically and in terms of social-emotional support.  Additionally, we are seeing more students impacted by trauma and in need of intensive support than ever before.

Rather than having more resources and supports to meet these increased needs, this year our schools have LESS. We are facing an historic staffing shortage, and hundreds of crucial positions in our schools remain unfilled. Educators are stretched beyond capacity trying to fill the gaps. For example, our counselors, social workers, and academic support teachers are frequently being assigned to cover classes, rather than providing specific supports for students that are so urgently needed.

Educators are working every day to connect with students from behind masks, to teach over the noise of air purifiers, to establish classroom climate that meets all students’ social and emotional learning needs, to adapt to the absence of students and colleagues who are out due to COVID, all while working to keep up with curricular goals.  

Clearly these are NOT normal circumstances and help is urgently needed in our schools for both students and educators. The path we are on is not working, and if we don’t make changes, we risk unplanned and extended school shutdowns due to staffing shortages and safety concerns. 

As we head into bargaining with the District, it’s important to focus on what students and educators need most in this moment. These needs are driving our bargaining priorities, which include the following:

Students deserve classroom instruction that meets their current needs

  • Time for educators to adapt curriculum and instruction to meet post-CDL student needs
  • Time for educators to give feedback to students and families.
  • Time for educators to collaborate with SpEd, ELL, Social Workers and content teams
  • Time for students to get individual support from their teachers. 

Students deserve all available PPS resources directly addressing their needs 

  • Temporarily remove job duties that do not immediately have an impact on student learning.
  • Pivoting central office support to filling in for para-educator vacancies and absences when possible

Students deserve schools that are safe, secure, and that focus on the whole child.

  • Dedicated time within the school day/week to meet the individual social-emotional and academic needs of students.
  • Time for school staff to work together on school climate, to create an environment that is safe and supportive of student learning

The bottom line is educators need time to address our students’ needs, and we will be bringing a range of common sense proposals to the District next week that reflect these priorities.

We are hopeful that by making these changes-- to be implemented immediately after winter break--  we can provide our students with a better experience, create real relief for educators so the staffing crisis stops getting worse, and provide a stable and sustainable plan for the rest of the school year.

NEXT STEPS

Normally, we would have a slower build-up to bargaining.  But with the intense pressure so many of you are experiencing, and with so many educators feeling such despair, we’re worried that mid-year resignations will continue to climb if we do not get right to the bargaining table. 

You will be able to view the sessions via recorded YouTube posts.  Your building organizers will be coming to you so that you can review the bargaining platform that was developed from the workload survey and listening session input.   

Our goal is to reach a quick settlement that can be fully in place for the first day after winter break.  Educators need resources and time to provide a safe, caring, and supportive school community. The time to do it right is long past due.

As always, we ask for your support so that we can bring everyone a sense of hope for the second half of the school year.

Continue reading

President's Message: Listen to Educators

Thank you to all of you who were able to come to one of our recent PAT Listening Sessions on the workload and staffing crisis in PPS. 

Our recent survey made it clear that educators are burdened with enormous workloads and added stress this year. If we do not change course, our staffing crisis could get much worse. 

District and state leaders heard directly from educators about what we are experiencing in our classrooms, and what immediate and longer-term solutions are required to make things better. 

More than 300 people participated in our three listening sessions:

  • 74 PAT members signed up to give testimony.
  • 293 PAT members signed up to listen and support their colleagues.  
  • All 7 PPS School Board directors came to at least one session. 
  • Senior PPS Central Office leaders Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero, Deputy Superintendent Shawn Bird, Chief of Staff Jonathan Garcia, and Chief Human Resources Officer Sharon Reese all attended a session. 
  • Oregon Senators Michael Dembrow and Lew Frederick, who both serve on the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Education Committee, each attended two sessions.
  • OEA President Reed Scott-Schwalbach, OEA Vice President Enrique Farrera, and OEA staff members Jared Mason-Gere, Jacob Rivas, and all our PAT staff attended to hear from you directly.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak or to listen, and to work with us identifying and implementing solutions. Although we are facing unprecedented challenges this year, we know we can find solutions that will work, if decision-makers listen to educators. 

Over three intense and often emotional evenings, educators shared candid experiences of what it’s like teaching in the current staffing crisis, the toll it’s taking on ourselves and our students, and the enormous level of stress that school staff are experiencing. 

Almost every speaker addressed the need for significantly more staffing in the long run, and more TIME this year for educators to plan, collaborate, and prepare for the overwhelming demands of our jobs.

In order to continue serving our students during this current staffing crisis, we need to take care of the educators and school staff that we still have. We cannot afford to lose any more educators. 

This means making changes NOW to make our jobs more manageable. In the long term, we need to create the working and learning conditions that will make a career in education the incredibly fulfilling and meaningful jobs they can be. 

We are calling on our local and state leaders to work with us to create immediate relief and long term improvements, or public education in our state may never recover. 

 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

Run to Be a PAT Delegate at the OEA RA

Nominations for all PAT Elected Positions are now open, and it’s never been easier to nominate yourself to be an OEA RA Delegate! To run to be an OEA RA Delegate, you can simply add your name to this online easy sign-up form (or you can also use the standard nomination form). We hope to have a full delegation from PAT, so please consider running!

OEA RA Delegates serve a 3-year term (2022, 2023, and 2024), and this year’s OEA RA will be held on April 29-30, 2022 (either virtually or in Portland). Responsibilities of an OEA RA Delegate include: attending the pre-RA training, attending the OEA RA, and voting on OEA policies, budget, legislative program, and OEA officers. 

The Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee is Looking for More Members!

This committee keeps things real and serves to be a source of intersectional support and collaboration for PAT members and the community. If you have a heart for social justice and are action oriented, you will feel right at home with this committee. Come once or come every month- we’ll be happy to see you either way! Here is the link to sign up.

Mark your calendar for December 15th, 4:30-6:30 PM! At this SJCO meeting we will:

  • Explore fresh ideas for organizing for social justice issues
  • Revisit the Divest Oregon coalition
  • Begin planning for Black Lives Matter Week of Action and Black History Month
  • Continue to advocate for PAT SPED educators

At our November 3 meeting, we had a presentation from Divest Oregon. This coalition is urging the Oregon State Treasury (Oregon Investment Council and Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read) to: commit to no new investments in fossil fuels and to phase out current fossil fuel investments over time. We encourage interested members to look into this; if you have specific questions about Divest Oregon, please enter them in this google form. We will get answers for you as soon as we can! 

Thinking Ahead About Retirement? Find Retirement Planning Resources Online

PAT has frequently hosted workshops on financial well being and planning for the future, led by veteran financial advisor Ed Foster.  Whether you are a new educator thinking ahead, or in the last years of your career, we now have Ed Foster’s sage advice available for you online, whenever you need it.

The IBB Workgroup Agrees to Continue

On November 4th and 5th, the PAT IBB Workgroup and District representatives met to discuss new elements regarding safety and student discipline that we hoped to be able to recommend to our respective bargaining teams. Remember, when we settled the 2020 - 2022 CBA, the ratification included terms that created the IBB Workgroup for one specific article - Article 9, “Student Discipline and Safety.” 

We were unable to reach an agreement that the two sides felt they could bring to their respective bargaining teams, but some progress was made. Most importantly, both sides reviewed the interests we all hold, and proposed possible modifications to existing language in Article 9.

The District’s interests revolved around reducing disproportionate discipline for traditionally underserved students, and the PAT team obviously held that interest too. In addition, the PAT team expressed interests in:

  • Safe learning environments for students and staff;
  • Discipline that creates real equity for all students;
  • fully-supported discipline system - including RJ, MTSS, and new Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook (SRRH) terms - implemented with fidelity across the entire District;
  • A program that is consistent and fair; and
  • A final outcome that creates trust in PPS for parents, students and educators.

Although we could not come to a consensus, the two sides felt that enough progress had been made that we should continue to work on the issue. Both sides agreed to two additional meetings.  

If the two sides reach consensus on some modified language and SRRH terms, your PAT IBB workgroup will present the language to the PAT Bargaining Team. If the Bargaining Team accepts the language, it will present the language to the PAT Executive Board for either a “do pass” or “no pass” recommendation to the general membership for ratification. Stay tuned for more to come.  

If you are reading this, please click this link to receive a small gift from your PAT Membership Committee.

Supporting Our Substitute Educators in Difficult Times

As we continue to feel the impact of the shortage of substitute educators, we know that part of the solution is to support and appreciate our substitute educator colleagues. 

Each month our PAT Substitute Educators Committee discusses working conditions for substitute educators. We ask our substitute educator members this:  “Which buildings provided a positive work experience and which buildings were difficult to serve?”  We use this information to present at Contract Administration meetings with PPS HR regarding administrative best practices. 

Some building administration don’t seem to understand how important it is to support substitute educators. However, some do a great job supporting guest teachers: Benson and Woodmere administrators and office staff were recognized for being really fantastic.  At these schools, administrators and/or office staff regularly helped provide breaks for the substitutes, made sure they got keys, and even provided the guest educator coffee and cookies.  

In most reports, it was the professional educators in the building who made the teaching experience for substitute educators a positive one.  On their behalf, thank you to all of you who make these efforts, and a special thanks to the professional educators in Lewis, Roosevelt, Franklin, and Hosford who were mentioned as staff who went above and beyond to assist the visiting PAT Substitute educators in their building.  Substitute educators in these buildings reported that teachers regularly stopped by their classes to make sure things were going well, assisted them with printing, and showed them where to find materials in the room they were assigned. 

Upcoming Events

November 17th: Nominations Open for PAT Elections. Learn more here.

PAT Committee Meetings- Join the committee mailing list to receive a Zoom Link.

  • December 1st, 4:30-6:30 PM: Bargaining Committee Meeting
  • December 1st, 4:30-6:30 PM: Instructional Professional Development Committee Meeting
  • December 6th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Legislative Committee Meeting (*Note new date)
  • December 8th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Membership Committee Meeting
  • December 8th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Racial Equity Committee Meeting
  • December 15th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice/Community Outreach Committee Meeting
  • December 15th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee Meeting

**All PAT committee meetings will be held virtually on Zoom for the time being

Other PAT Events:

Webinars

  • December 6th, 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom: Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire: Upcoming Webinar. RSVP here
  • January 6th, 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom: Retiring Soon? Planning Workshop with Ed Foster. RSVP form coming soon
  • January 13th, 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom: Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire: Upcoming Webinar. RSVP here
  • March 10th, 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom: Mid-Career Retirement Workshop with Ed Foster. RSVP form coming soon

In-Person Events

  • December 14th, 11:30-5:00 PM: Teacher for a Day

Upcoming OEA Training and Events:

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

President's Message: Staffing Crisis Could Get Worse Without Action

Last week, I addressed the PPS School Board to convey the seriousness of the workload and staffing crisis we are facing in our schools, across the District, and across the country.

In addition to our regular responsibilities, this year educators are grappling with increased student needs and other pandemic-related demands, while an historic staffing crisis puts impossible demands on every staff member within our district.

Educators have been showing up and doing their best for students every day. However, we are more overwhelmed and stressed than ever before. For most educators, our workload has become untenable.

While PPS must continue to recruit employees to open jobs, we need to acknowledge that we can not hire ourselves out of this worker shortage if PPS does not retain the staff we have.

Since the beginning of the year, PAT members from across the District have shared with us just how overwhelmed and overstretched they are. 

The results of our recent survey illustrate the magnitude of the crisis we have on our hands.

Educators are facing crushing workload levels. More than 80 percent of educators report that their workload is so high they cannot get it done during the work day, and 25 percent said they cannot get their work done no matter how much time they spend on weekends and evenings. 

Educators are experiencing overwhelming stress. 70 percent of PPS educators reported that their stress level is high or severe, and 28 percent reported that their stress level was so severe it’s impacting their health.

I can’t say it strongly enough, this is not normal. And it is not sustainable. If we don’t immediately address the workload-related stress our educators are experiencing, it could decimate our workforce. More than 1,000 educators said they are currently considering taking a leave of absence or resigning, and an additional 400 educators reported that they are considering retiring earlier than they had planned.

If even a fraction of these educators leave the District, we will not be able to operate public school as we know it.

We know these issues are not unique to PPS. And we are also working in collaboration with union leaders in other districts to promote statewide solutions.

The good news is, we do have the opportunity to implement immediate solutions to make THIS YEAR manageable for the experienced educators we already have, while we work toward LONG TERM solutions to make sure a career in education can be fulfilling and sustainable for our current and future workforce. 

You can watch the presentation to the board here, beginning at about minute 50:00.

 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

Tell PPS Leaders What You Need to Make This Year Manageable: Upcoming Listening Sessions

PAT is organizing listening sessions with our PPS School Board members and PPS leaders, so they can hear directly from you.  We are holding 2 more listening sessions, and invite all PAT members to sign up to speak or to attend to listen: 

  • Thursday, November 4th, 5:00-6:00 PM
  • Monday, November 8th, 5:00-6:00 PM

Please come share your thoughts on the following questions:

  • What examples from your personal experiences best illustrate the demands on educators this school year? 
  • What immediate solutions could we implement to make this year manageable?
  • What long-term solutions can we work toward together to make sure a career as an educator can be fulfilling and sustainable?

All Listening sessions will be held on Zoom. Comments will be limited to 3 minutes or less, to allow many voices to be heard. Read more here. 

Evaluation Update

As a reminder, PAT and PPS HR agreed to push back the deadline for goal-setting to November 15th. The rest of the evaluation timeline remains unchanged. 

Early in October the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) announced new flexibility for Oregon’s educator evaluations for the 2021-22 school year. Oregon has temporarily modified the Oregon Framework for Teacher and Administrator Evaluation and Support Systems to allow districts to suspend the regular summative evaluation cycle for contract teachers because of COVID-19 related impacts. Many district leaders and educators across the state have asked for this flexibility knowing that quality evaluations that support educator growth take time and intention, something in short supply this year.

And because we know that PAT members share these concerns, we will be advocating to PPS that evaluations for Contract Educators be pushed back one year as a way to relieve workload for PAT members and for administrators. We will keep everyone updated as the issue progresses.  

Parent-Teacher Conferences are Virtual, Nov. 22nd & 23rd

This year, Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled for Monday, November 22nd and Tuesday, November 23rd. PPS has confirmed that all parent-teacher conferences will be held virtually this year. Educators are encouraged to work from home, but have the right to be in their building if they choose. 

Article 6.7.2 of your union contract states that, “the District shall schedule two (2) parent conferences in the evening on two consecutive evenings.” Evening conferences shall last no longer than three (3) hours and shall conclude by 8:30 PM To compensate for the two evenings, Wednesday, November 24th is a no-work day. Please make sure your conference schedule complies with our contract, including your dinner break and the end time. 

Individual educators may flex their schedule for parent-teacher conferences. For example, if an educator needs to attend to family needs for portions of the scheduled conference times, they may contact some families to schedule an alternative time for their conferences. However, unless your entire building applied for and received a contract exception, the only dates communicated by your building administrator should be the ones on the calendar.

If you are reading this, please click this link to receive a small gift from your PAT Membership Committee.

Know Your Contract: Early Retirement

Every fall, we send members information about re-employment of retirees and the Early Retirement Incentive. Both of these provisions are explained in detail in Article 15 of the PAT/PPS contract.

We have all fought to maintain these benefits to assure that educators are able to retire with dignity when they feel it’s time.

PERS Bubble

The PERS Bubble refers to the ability of a PAT member to officially retire under the PERS system during the middle of the school year, but work through the end of the year. This saves PPS money, as they no longer have to make PERS contributions for the educator who retires, because they are essentially “substituting” for themselves for the rest of the year. The educator’s earnings remain intact, PPS saves money, and the students have continuity of instruction. 

In order to be eligible for the benefit, a member must retire after November 30th, and provide the District with at least 30 days notice before their official PERS resignation date. For example, if a member wishes to retire at the start of Winter Break on December 20, 2021, they would need to submit the official District Resignation Form at least thirty days prior – approximately November 19th.

Early Retirement Incentive

For educators with at least 15 years of service as of September 20, 2020, this benefit provides insurance contributions for the retired professional educator, and one-half the contribution to the cost of insurance for a spouse or domestic partner, for up to 60 months or until the professional educator becomes eligible for Medicare. The Early Retirement Incentive also provides a stipend of $425 per month, for up to 60 months. See all the details in Article 15 of our contract.

Notice-of-Retirement Stipend

There is a one-time stipend of $1,250 for any educator who gives written notice of retirement to the District prior to January 15th, and a stipend of $700 to any professional educator who gives written notice of retirement prior to February 15th.

November is Native American/Indigenous Heritage Month

Join PAT as we work to ensure that our students recognize that Native American and Indigenous history is American history and should be taught in the classroom year-round. 

Please visit our website to find resources co-created by the 2020-2021 PAT Social Justice and Community Outreach and Racial Equity committees. Resources include:

We encourage you to add a land acknowledgement to your school routine. Making a land acknowledgement is taking time to recognize the tribes that once lived where our schools now sit. You can use this website to find what ancestral land your school is located on. More information about land acknowledgements can be found here.

Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire: Upcoming Webinars

Your union is working on several fronts to help with the student loan debt crisis in this country. On an individual level, we want to help you better understand the Federal Loan Forgiveness programs including the newly announced PSLF Waiver and to move you toward loan forgiveness. 

Please join us to learn the facts about the current federal loan forgiveness programs and to gain access to the NEA Member Benefits Loan Forgiveness Navigation tool available at www.neamb.com/start.

  • December 6th, 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom
  • January 13th 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom

RSVP here. Please remember that you need to be a PAT member to attend, so if you are not already a member, sign up here today.

Thinking Ahead About Retirement? Find Retirement Planning Resources Online

PAT has frequently hosted workshops on financial well being and planning for the future, led by veteran financial advisor Ed Foster.  Whether you are a new educator thinking ahead, or in the last years of your career, we now have Ed Foster’s sage advice available for you online, whenever you need it:

Upcoming Events

PAT Committee Meetings- Join the committee mailing list to receive a Zoom Link.

  • November 3rd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee
  • November 3rd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee

**All PAT committee meetings will be held virtually on Zoom for the time being

Other PAT Events:

  • November 4th, and 8th, 5:00-6:00 PM on Zoom: Listening Sessions with PPS Leaders: Workload and Staffing Crisis. All sessions are virtual. Sign up here to speak or attend to listen 
  • December 6th, 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom: Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire: Upcoming WebinarRSVP here
  • January 13th 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom: Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire: Upcoming Webinar. RSVP here

Upcoming OEA Training and Events:

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

Upcoming Listening Sessions on Workload with School Board Members

Dear Educator,

Last night at the PPS School Board Meeting, I shared with the board our recent survey data, illustrating how overwhelmed and strained educators are feeling this year. You can watch the presentation here beginning at about minute 50:00.

The survey results are alarming, and demonstrate that educators are experiencing extraordinary stress and overwork, and many educators are considering options to leave the profession they love.  

In order for our school system to continue serving our students this year, we need to retain the educators we have. We are advocating for meaningful workload relief to be implemented immediately. 

PAT is organizing listening sessions with our PPS School Board members, so they can hear directly from you.  We are planning to hold 3 listening sessions, and invite all PAT members to sign up to speak or to attend to listen: 

  • Monday, November 1, 5-6 pm
  • Thursday, November 4, 5-6 pm
  • Monday, November 8, 5-6 pm

Please come share your thoughts on the following questions:

  • What examples from your personal experiences best illustrate the demands on educators this school year? 
  • What immediate solutions could we implement to make this year manageable?
  • What long-term solutions can we work toward together to make sure a career as an educator can be fulfilling and sustainable?

Comments will be limited to 3 minutes or less, to allow many voices to be heard.  

Please use this form to sign up to speak or listen at any of the sessions. After you sign up, we will send you a Zoom link. If you are not able to attend, you can use the same form to submit a written comment. 

Speakers will be limited based on time, and chosen on a first come, first served basis, while also ensuring that educators from many different grade levels and roles have an opportunity to be heard.

This is NOT an official PPS School Board meeting. We are inviting all board members to attend, and expect between 1 and 3 board members to be at each session.

Thank you for sharing your concerns, ideas, and vision for how to make our school system sustaining for students and staff. 

 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

President, Portland Association of Teachers

http://www.pdxteachers.org/

President's Message: Staffing Crisis

Dear Educator,

Over the past few weeks, the scope of the staffing crisis in our public schools has become glaringly apparent.

Of course, the pandemic is part of the problem. This year, staff are required to stay home when experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as well as when they must isolate, quarantine, or care for their own children who may be required to stay home. 

But this staffing crisis pre-dates the pandemic, and it’s a reflection of our unsustainable working conditions and the deterioration of student supports in our schools. Together, they pose a real threat to the viability of our public school system.

The Scope of the Problem

The staffing shortage impacts every school community, every student, and every staff member. Here are some numbers to help illustrate the situation:

  • As of last week, there were 146 certified positions still posted and unfilled in PPS. 
  • We have a historic shortage of substitute educators. While the list of substitutes in PPS typically includes over 800 names, this year there are only 528. 
  • Between September 1 and October 5, there were a total of 1,326 unfilled substitute jobs. (By comparison, the same period of time in 2019-20 had 164 unfilled jobs.)
  • One day last month PPS had 122 unfilled substitute jobs. 

The gaps are being filled in any way possible. Building administrators are covering classrooms, as are instructional coaches, counselors, and others. Our TOSAs and all licensed central-office staff (including central office administrators) have been asked to substitute in our schools. And of course, classroom teachers are being asked to cover classes during their planning time.

At a time when educators have MORE on their plates than ever before, this is causing an incredible strain and it is not sustainable. 

The staffing shortage is not unique to licensed teachers. Here are some more numbers:

  • PPS is short over 40 Custodians.
  • There are more than 30 open positions in Nutrition Services.
  • There are almost 80 open positions for Paraeducators and Educational Assistants. 
  • The District continues to be short at least 20 bus drivers, even after cancelling numerous routes. 
  • The District is still trying to fill over a dozen administrator positions. 

These are all positions that are FUNDED and POSTED. The problem is that people are not seeking, accepting, and choosing to stick with these jobs.

It is also important to note that this staffing shortage is also not unique to PPS. Across the state and across the country, districts are facing similar struggles.

SO WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS?

In the short term, PAT has been working with the District to explore all pathways to immediately increase the substitute pool. Last week, TSPC announced that it is temporarily reducing requirements for substitute educators, in an attempt to address the shortage state-wide. PAT is also supportive of all proposals from our fellow PPS employee unions to attract and retain more custodians, nutrition workers, bus drivers, educational assistants, and para-professionals.

However, short term solutions are not enough. The labor shortages we are experiencing now result from the perpetual under-funding and under-staffing of our schools, and the increasingly impossible demands of our jobs. We have been asked to do “more with less” for decades, and now our schools are paying the price.  

The pandemic has made it clear that in addition to our students’ educational needs, our public schools are essential to the mental health and wellness of our children, as well as the well-being of parents, and the functionality of our entire economy. Considering all that is at stake, it is essential that we invest in long-term solutions to make our schools places where talented and dedicated adults SEEK to build their careers, and can find the support necessary to stick with it for decades. 

What changes to the system do you believe are needed to make a career in education one that you would recommend to the young people you teach? We owe it to our students to defend the sustainability of our profession and of public schools. 

 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President