This Wednesday, January 25 at 4:30pm, PAT will be hosting a
Retirement/ Financial Planning Seminar, focused on educators who are new(ish) to PERS. (Although you don't have to be new in order to attend!) This seminar is dedicated to financial wellbeing and planning for the future, led by veteran financial advisor Ed Foster. Topics for this seminar include:
- How does your state-sponsored retirement plan work?
- Where does the I.A.P. account fit in?
- How much money do you need to retire anyway?
- What happens if you change careers?
- What can you do to maximize your retirement savings?
- PERS? OPSRP? 403b? TSA? IRA? What do these all mean?!
(*These retirement seminars are a benefit of PAT membership, and only available for PAT members. Not a member yet? Join here!)
Yesterday, your bargaining team met with the District for our final session focused solely on student support, discipline and safety (contained in Article 9 of the PAT-PPS contract). You can watch the bargaining session on the PAT YouTube channel. Later this month we will start bargaining over changes to our entire contract.
In yesterday’s session, PAT bargaining members finished presenting our key questions for the District, including:
Causing Harm or Threat of Harm to an Educator: While the District continues to criticize our current contract language that requires a 5 day suspension when a student harms or threatens to harm an educator, they have yet to provide an alternative. How will the district ensure that we have the time and staffing to support students who have threatened or caused harm to educators? Right now, the District’s answer: “It will be at the Administrator’s discretion”.
Appropriate Duty Schedule: How can we make sure our Mental Health support teams are not the sole or primary staff on duty? More duty ensures they will write a disproportionate level of disciplinary referrals, which can negatively impact their relationships with the students they counsel. How can we ensure we have enough staff on duty to keep students and staff safe? How can we keep the relationship between students and our Mental Health support team members supportive and therapeutic?
Environmental Safety: PPS rejected our language around basic building cleanliness, along with specific temperature and safety standards. PPS’ lawyer made it clear: The District is only interested in addressing environmental issues in our buildings if they are an “immediate danger created by an unsafe working condition when such danger threatens substantial bodily injury or would be a significant health hazard” (current contract language). Otherwise, educators could consider a “dusty room” or a room at “59 degrees” a hazard under our proposal and will “routinely” close classrooms.
It’s interesting that the District’s own recently concluded Facilities Report found that we are operating with less than half of the maintenance staff required to manage the number of buildings in PPS (see pp 15-18) so it’s no wonder we consistently have school temperature and so many other issues across the District! How many leaks in our classrooms until it is seen as a hazard? How many mornings of cleaning rat feces from student desks? How many days of freezing classrooms? How many sick days taken due to mold will be enough? How many more threats? How many more excuses?
Basic Classroom Safety: We need working phones at all times in every location an educator may be asked to work. When the electricity and internet is out, we need alternative communication options. We need doors that lock from the inside. We need basic safety standards across our sites, but the District has not yet agreed to add most of these common sense measures to their language.
Accountability and Support for Special Education: Educators shared how often we’ve been told by administrators that students cannot be held accountable for their behaviors if they have an IEP. When pushed to explain where in the law that is stated, Mr. Buno, the former Head of Special Education and current Head of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support at PPS, was unable to provide any clarification. Our students with IEPs should not be held to a higher standard or be excused from disciplinary processes. Just like all of our students, they deserve accountability and support.
At the end of the day, we know that our students and our communities deserve better. They deserve spaces that are clean and safe. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They deserve to be believed when they share that their spaces are not a safe place to teach and learn.
This is why we will be broadening our bargaining later this month to address not just the unresolved issues around student support, discipline and safety, but ALL the critical issues facing our schools.
PAT Bargaining Team
Steve Lancaster, Chair
Portland Association of Teachers
- President’s Message: Happy New Year! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
- Know Your Contract: Probationary Teacher Mid-Year Evaluation Timelines
- PAT Elections: Submit Questions for Eboard Candidates
- Committee Updates
- Upcoming Events
Happy New Year! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Welcome back to the second half of the 2022-2023 School Year.
A Look Back
Oh what a year it has been! Jacque and I officially began our work leading the Portland Association of Teachers on July 1st, 2022 and PAT has accomplished so much already! Between July 1st and December 16th, our union has:
- Continued advocacy for Middle Schools through “A Call for a Safe and Stable School from PPS Middle School Communities,” adding building-based RJ coordinators to PPS MS
- Hired 2 new OEA Staff members, Ryan Olds and Jessica Nuti
- Added new Executive Board Members, Committee Co-Chairs, and Organizers
- Hosted a PAT table at the Tiger Tiger Community event, reading books and painting faces
- Amended and passed the business item at the Oregon Education Association (OEA) RA to create a Social Worker and Counselor Committee to address concerns specific to their needs (technically this was before July 1st, but was awesome nonetheless)
- Supported Glencoe in pushing back against the District when they tried to go back on their promise to add another classroom teacher (this wasn’t a “rumor” as some PPS leaders stated, we have the receipts)
- Organized around temperatures in schools and filed OSHA complaints, pushing PPS to develop a heat mitigation strategy and plan
- Held our first Community Outreach Drive-Thru Event
- Increased our Social Media Presence
- Had our first of many Community Listening Sessions to discuss Community Schools
- Collaborated with other PPS Unions to fight for Covid Leave protections
- Supported Special Educators with a SpEd Week of Action
- Got Out the Vote: Increased our PAT Voter turnout to 84% of PAT members & 66% of potential PAT Members
- Joined the NEA Strategic Campaign Institute
- Surveyed our Members around Bargaining and began bargaining Article 9
- Met with Head Start Educators, Pre-K educators, TOSAs, Special Educators, and those who support, to better understand their concerns and needs
- Multiple grievances filed by educators and staff, as well as building-based actions to push for safe and supportive schools
- Developed a training calendar for the rest of the year
Held multiple site-based socials where educators could connect and build community
WOW! What a first half of the year! Jacque and I know we would not be able to “lead” all this work without our members’ collective actions and dedication. Thank you to our committee chairs and organizing leads, thank you to every single educator who came to an event or meeting, who listened to a colleague with a need, who opened an email from PAT, who took care of themselves and prioritized their health and safety so they could teach another day. Thank you.
What does 2023 have in store for us? We know we will be heading full on into successor bargaining this year, and we have had many educators give us input on bargaining proposals. We continue to strive for language that provides the maximum benefit to the maximum number of people AND looking at what the highest needs are regardless of the number impacted. The 150-day bargaining clock starts January 10th, and your colleagues have been working hard to prepare for the campaign ahead. Keep wearing your blue on Tuesdays, keep speaking up and sharing out, and keep an eye open for upcoming events and actions. ¡Juntos podemos!
I was reflecting on returning back this January. I have had several former colleagues share that they are exhausted, they are having panic attacks, they are still dealing with the effect of catching COVID this break (COVID isn’t over, y’all! Please mask up!), and several who are just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I heard from educators worried about returning and being able to serve the students in front of them. This system has stretched everyone to the limit, and winter break is often a time to reflect and take stock of what matters.
During this time of reflection and the resetting of expectations, I implore y’all to cultivate some self-compassion: “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” -Dr. Kristen Neff, Author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
Self-Compassion is about treating ourselves the way we would that friend; "Instead of just ignoring your pain with a 'stiff upper lip' mentality, you stop to tell yourself 'this is really difficult right now,' how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?" Self-compassion consists of three components:
- Self-kindness (vs self-judgment): Self-kindness is the act of acknowledging our failures and suffering. Instead of ignoring or punishing ourselves for those failures, we are gentle with ourselves anyway.
- Common humanity (vs. isolation): Common humanity is the act of recognizing you are not alone in what you are feeling and experiencing; "suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience".
- Mindfulness (vs. over-identification): It can be tempting to forcefully silence and avoid or over amplify and spiral with those negative thoughts and feelings. "Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them."
You deserve self-compassion for the simple reason that you exist. You deserve to feel comforted, connected, and balanced. How will you practice self-compassion this year? Remember: Do not run yourself ragged to fit into raggedy systems. Together, we will lift each other up and fight for a radically compassionate system that serves EVERYONE. But first, we need to find that compassion for ourselves as well.
Probationary teachers are formally evaluated at least two times during the school year. By the last work day before Winter Break, all probationary teachers should have received their first evaluation report.
This mid-cycle evaluation must be based on at least one formal observation cycle, which requires a pre-observation conference, the observation, and a post-observation conference.
In addition to the formal observation cycle, the mid-year evaluation may include evidence from informal observations, artifacts, assessments, and other evidence collected throughout the first half of the school year.
The mid-cycle formal evaluation requires a Mid-Cycle Summative Evaluation Meeting, separate from the post-observation conference. Prior to that meeting, the evaluator must give the educator a draft of the Mid-Cycle Summative Evaluation Report (Form 5) at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.
Any rating given in the evaluation report must be based on direct evidence that is written in the evaluation report. Review Article 27 of the PAT/PPS contract and the PPS Handbook for Professional Growth and Evaluation to determine whether the required procedures have been followed regarding your evaluation. Both are available on the PAT website.
If the evaluator has stated that they “DO NOT RECOMMEND” you for continued employment if your performance continues as it is, contact your PAT Rep ASAP. You also have the right to submit a written objection/rebuttal that is attached to the evaluation report in your personnel file if you feel the evaluation was incomplete or unjust. The written objection should normally be made within 30 days of receipt of the evaluation.
Please submit a question for PAT Eboard candidates to respond to. Pursuant to Section 2, subsection E of the PAT Nominations and Elections Handbook, members have the opportunity to submit written questions for the Executive Board candidates who are currently running for office. The Nominations and Elections Committee will choose up to 4 member-generated questions to ask candidates to respond to via an optional, electronic questionnaire. PAT members will receive a copy of candidate responses along with the voter pamphlet on February 9, 2023. Please submit your questions via this electronic form by 5:00pm on Wednesday, January 11th, 2023.
All PAT Members, please fill out this short survey about Black Lives Matter Week Of Action to help our Racial Equity and SJCO Committees with planning and engagement.
Free BIPOC Educators Summit - Saturday, Feb 25th, 9am-5pm at McDaniel HS
"Time to Thrive: Reclaiming our Momentum through Joy and Purpose" with keynote speaker Dr. Bettina Love. Reserve your spot.
Be on the lookout for information on PAT’s Future Educator of Color scholarships in 2023!
The Social Justice Committee and Community Outreach (SJCO) Committee is partnering with External Organizing to expand our relationships with families & community organizations. The more connected we are, the better we understand our mutual needs, which in turn helps us to more effectively support our students and each other. Are you connected to a neighborhood association, political person/organization, a labor partner (union), community organization (faith-based, non-profit, mutual aid, etc) that might be willing to show their support for teachers? Please take a minute and fill out this form or scan the QR code to connect us! Thank you- YOU make our union stronger!
Host a Legislator to teach in your classroom at Educator for a Day!
On February 3rd and 10th, PAT Legislative Committee will invite members from the Portland Delegation of the Oregon House of Representatives, and the Oregon State Senate. Please consider filling out this form to volunteer to host a Legislator as a guest educator for the day and to share your educator responsibilities. This is a great way to show them the challenges our schools are facing, in hopes they will help us solve them in the upcoming session. It is also an excellent form of outreach and helps maintain ongoing communication with State Leaders.
Secrets of a Successful Organizer
- Saturday, January 7th - Secrets of a Successful Organizer Training (10AM-4PM)
- Monday, January 9th- Best Practices of Handling Plans of Assistance (4:30PM-6:30PM)
- Saturday, January 21st- Extensive Building Rep Training- Beginner and Advanced (10AM-4PM)
Racial Equity Trainings
- Thursday, January 26th- Racial Equity Training Part 1 (4:30PM-7PM)
Legislative, History, and Unionism
- Monday, January 30th- Understanding the Attacks on Public Education in Oregon and How We Fight Back (4:30PM-6:30PM at PAT)
See our flyer for more details!
Advocacy Committee*: January 4th, 4:30-6:30 PM
Membership Committee: January 4th, 4:30-6:30 PM
Internal Organizing: January 5th, 4:30-6:30 PM
Legislative/PAT PAC Committee: January 11th, 4:30-6:30 PM
- IPD Committee: January 11th, 4:30-6:30 PM
External Organizing: January 12th, 4:30-6:30 PM
*Marks closed committees
During the winter break, Grant High School students covered PAT’s upcoming community-centric bargaining proposal. Read all about it on the school's news website here.
On Tuesday, December 13th, PPS and PAT held their last Article 9 Bargaining Session of the year. PAT heard the District’s responses and counter-proposals for Article 9. There are several concepts where we have agreement, especially around the need for trauma-informed and restorative practices. The District has also proposed that the Special Education article in our contract be moved into Article 8 instead of completely removed from the contract. Thank you all for your advocacy around Special Education!
Nevertheless, it was evident during our session that the District’s team does not understand the lived experience of educators and students in our buildings. For example:
The District is opposed to designated intervention spaces for students: PPS did not incorporate our language around the intervention spaces. Again, their concerns were that students will use this space inappropriately or be a place to “warehouse” students, particularly our students of color.
However, we know that students are already leaving classes and relying on behavior to communicate their need for support. Educators and other building staff are responding in the hallways, in the counselor’s office or the admin’s office, without any privacy or dignity for students. We need identified space, staff, and materials to support students if we want to utilize real restorative practices.
The District struggled to define the different levels or “tiers” of instruction and behavior supports: Our bargaining team had to help District leaders understand the difference between the basic, first tier of support that we provide to all students, and the second tier that we provide to some students within our classrooms, but above and beyond what we can provide to all students in a class.
We pushed to add “implementing” to the current contract language: “Identifying appropriate Tier 2 and Tier 3 evidence-based behavior interventions to support schools,” since it is not enough to identify these supports, we need a commitment to them implementing those Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports across the District for each school. Unfortunately, the District wasn’t willing to incorporate this into their most recent proposal.
We are currently lining up additional dates for January, and we encourage you to check out all our bargaining sessions on the PAT YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/@pdxteachers.
Your PAT Bargaining Team:
Steve Lancaster, Chair
Portland Association of Teachers
- President’s Message: Look for the Light
- Know Your Contract: Parent/Teacher Conferences
- Bargaining Update
- Run for a PAT Elected Position! (Eboard, OEA RA, & NEA RA)
- Committee Updates
- Upcoming Events
At the last board meeting, there were parents and educators who spoke to the issues in Special Education. They raised concerns about the push towards “Inclusion” for our students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). One spoke to her daughter's multiple suspensions during her kindergarten year until she was placed in a focus classroom where she began to thrive.
These are the types of stories PPS is choosing to ignore when they push for inclusion without fully defining it for educators or families. We have yet to hear what that will look like or how we will staff and support it. When it was my turn to speak, I shared this concern and made it plain: It is surprising and inappropriate that PPS is already sending out a survey to parents with each IEP asking for their opinion on the concept of inclusion (check out the flyer here) without completing a bargain with us.
As one parent who participated in the Southeast Guiding Coalition explained to PDXParents, “PPS’s decision to move on despite SEGC not reaching consensus was eye opening. ‘It basically told us what we had begun to suspect: On some level we were there so PPS could say that they had sought our input’”. Another stated, “In terms of the process, the district disregarded votes by the committee, dissenting voices among staff, and manipulated students and families to achieve their ends. I felt disenfranchised, disrespected, and like my time and my community’s time (had been) wasted.” PAT believes that there should not be decisions made about families without families, or about us without us. Please invite families at your N/NE Portland sites to our first of at least three Community Listening Sessions, at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, December 13th, where we will ask community members to share which of our bargaining priorities are priorities for them too. See the Flyer HERE.
"When the days are short and you haven't recovered from the exhaustion of late fall, look for the light." -Elena Aguilar, Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators
Bargaining is draining. Fighting for what we know our students and colleagues deserve can be heartbreaking. Educators at PPS and across the country are working more than ever to serve higher needs than ever. With so much on everyone’s plates, it can be hard to find the positive and express gratitude when you are overwhelmed, overworked, and under appreciated. One thing I’ve learned as an instructional coach is that we have to train our brains to “look for the light”. Meditation is hard for me to keep up, but I can build my practice of expressing gratitude. One free, small, doable step you can take is to notice the little things in your life. It can be really hard nowadays but we're in this together. That's one thing I'm grateful for.
Every day, at the end of the day, I would line my students up and say to them, "In case no one told you today, you're awesome and I love you." I realize now I was practicing gratitude daily every year I had my own classroom, and it has been missing in my life as I transitioned to a coaching role and now as PAT President.
So to all of you, the teachers and staff who let me do site visits, to those who speak up, who are doing their best to support others or to keep themselves afloat, who are protecting themselves by not reading any emails after work hours: In case no one told you today, you are awesome and I love you. Have a peaceful and safe break!
Family Conferences are one of the many tools we have to boost student success. It’s a chance for us to talk to families holistically about their child—including their curiosity, love of learning, and critical thinking skills.
These two days are long and exhausting, but they’re also filled with meaningful conversations, personal connections, and other opportunities to build community.
This year, conferences are scheduled right before Thanksgiving. Some families may not be able to attend due to travel. Our Superintendent made it clear that make-up conferences do not need to be scheduled when families can’t attend because of travel. Instead, they may want to schedule a video-conference, phone call, or email contact during the time period designated for conferences.
As educators, we try to be flexible, doing whatever it takes to meet with families, especially those whose work schedules or other obligations make it hard to meet during the designated conference time. Just remember, we don’t need to schedule make-up conferences because families are on vacation. You deserve to enjoy your holidays just as much as your students and their families.
Evening conferences shall last no longer than three (3) hours and conclude by 8:30pm. A duty-free lunch of at least thirty (30) continuous minutes and a dinner break of at least sixty (60) consecutive minutes shall be scheduled prior to evening conferences. (Article 6.7.2 and 7.7).
The PAT Bargaining Team had our third Bargaining Session with PPS on November 16th, 2022. Read our Bargaining Update HERE. Check out our initial proposal and presentation on how we envision student support, discipline, and safety could look in our schools.
We will also continue to livestream our bargaining sessions on our YouTube channel.
Stay tuned for updates ahead of the next bargaining session.
Run for a PAT Elected Position! (Eboard, OEA RA, & NEA RA)
PAT’s General Election is now open. The positions open for nominations include:
- PAT Executive Board Directors (4 positions)
- PAT Delegates to the OEA RA (approx. 30 positions)
- PAT Delegates to the NEA RA (approx. 28 positions)
Nominations CLOSE at 7:00pm on Wednesday, December 14, at the December Rep Assembly.
How to Nominate Yourself for a Position:
- Nomination Form: for ALL positions (Executive Board, OEA RA, and NEA RA positions); email form to [email protected] by 7pm on 12/14/22
- Quick Online Sign-Up Form for OEA RA positions only; sign up by 7pm on 12/14/22
PAT is a democratic organization, and our leaders are elected by you and all our members. Any PAT member in good standing may run for elected position. (But you can become a member HERE in order to run, and to vote, in the election.)
Every month the PAT Instruction and Professional Development (IPD) Committee chairs and PAT leadership bring issues and questions from teachers to PPS leadership in order to have collaborative discussions and address issues before they become bigger problems.
Agenda items from October are below. More detailed information about each topic can be found here:
- Instructional rounds and learning walks. We were assured that these are non-evaluative and not tied to any teacher. If you are experiencing pseudo-evaluative situations around this, let us know!
- Cadres including flexibility around working from home.
- Another request for full TNTP and NTP reports that were used to inform the direction of the Office of Teaching and learning.
- Staffing for ESL
- Peer Mentoring for Educators of Color
- Math Whole Grade Acceleration
- SPED Staffing
- Report Card Check-in
- New adoptions and academic freedom
- Movement break mandates for K-5 classroom teachers
Tired and stretched thin…who has time to add social justice to their day??
So many of us are really feeling worn down by the demands of new curriculum, the multi-faceted needs of students impacted by Covid, trauma, instability, insufficient staffing or funding, & so much more. Y’all know what we’re talking about & could add a lot more to that list!! So in the face of all of this pressure, how do we stay the course of upholding racial equity & social justice in our teaching practices & curriculum?
- Read and understand your contractually protected academic freedom (Article 10).
- Bookmark PAT Monthly Resources. Many members lovingly labored over the years to curate these resources that align with racial equity & social justice goals. Spend some time perusing them so when a subpar text or lesson is presented in the curriculum, you know where to turn for an alternative!
- We have each other. How can your load be lightened by sharing the workload? We know of a few educator teams who have been able to increase their focus on social justice standards and decrease their after-contract work hours because they have built deep trust within their team which enables them to share their workload effectively.
- Go Big or Go Home? Nope! Go small! Go try one thing! Starting small is reasonable & valid!
- If social justice & racial equity feel like an add-on because it isn’t embedded in the curriculum, take a step to make it integral to your way of thinking about teaching & learning. If you aren’t sure how to do that, reach out to a trusted colleague or our committee for guidance.
- Share what you are trying with SJCO by emailing [email protected] and [email protected]. We would love to share your efforts in the next Advocate! Let’s inspire each other!
What’s On Deck?
November: Native American and Indigenous Peoples History Month
December 3: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
- Check out the BLM@SCHOOL // DISABILITY JUSTICE RESOURCES SAMPLER!
Building the “We” in PAT
The Social Justice Committee and Community Outreach (SJCO) Committee is partnering with External Organizing to build up our community ties and engagement.
The more connected we are, the better we understand our mutual needs, which in turn helps us to more effectively support one another. Are you connected to a neighborhood association, political person/organization, a labor partner (union), community organization (faith-based, non-profit, mutual aid, etc) that might be willing to show their support for teachers? Please scan this code and share your connections! Thank you- YOU make our union stronger!
PAT members, please take 1-2 min to fill in this short survey about participation and interest in this year’s Black Lives Matter Week Of Action.
Nedra Miller & Karen Liao, Racial Equity Co-Chairs
Julie Whitaker & David Scholten, SJCO Co-Chairs
Thank you to all the members who knocked doors, made calls, sent texts, gave money, or helped in any way to get the vote out this election cycle! As of this writing, it looks like most of the PAT PAC and OEA PAC-endorsed candidates and ballot measures were successful in their elections.
We are celebrating, and taking a breather, but also gearing up for the next big job that’s ahead of us: Electing a school board that respects teachers this May, when 4 of the 7 seats on the PPS board are up. If you’re interested in helping make that happen, please join us at the next joint meeting of the Legislative Committee and PAC Board on January 18. RSVP here!