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

Recently-Retired Educators Can Now Substitute

One of the solutions to the shortage of substitute educators that PAT has been advocating for is to allow recently-retired educators to substitute teach. Until now, PPS has been enforcing a 26-week break in employment before allowing retired educators to begin employment as a substitute. PPS has just agreed to remove that requirement for this school year, in order to tap the pool of fully licensed, experienced educators who retired in the spring and to help alleviate the current substitute shortage.

If you know any recently retired educators who might be interested in working as a substitute educator this fall, please pass on this information.

Teacher for a Day: Host a Local Leader in Your Classroom

One of the most important events that PAT hosts is Teacher for a Day. Our PAT Legislative Committee invites policy makers, community leaders, and other partners into our schools to experience first hand the conditions we face, to witness the incredible dedication of our educators, and to understand the resources required for our schools to best serve our students.

This year, Teacher for a Day will take place on Tuesday, December 14th. We need educators to volunteer to host leaders in their classrooms. 

If you are interested in being a host, or know someone who would make an ideal ambassador, please sign up here!

Become a PAT Leader: Run for a Elected Position

The PAT Nominations & Elections Committee announces that nominations for PAT Elected Positions will open on November 17, 2021, at the November PAT Representative Assembly.

The positions open for nominations include: 

  • PAT President
  • PAT Vice President
  • PAT Treasurer
  • PAT Secretary
  • PAT Executive Board Directors (5 positions)
  • PAT Delegate to the Oregon Education Association Representative Assembly (OEA RA)
  • PAT Delegate to the National Education Association Representative Assembly (NEA RA)

Any PAT member in good standing may run for any of these positions. Non-members are not eligible to run for an elected union office. Detailed information about the terms and duties of the positions and the Nomination Form may be found on our website.

Nominations for Executive Board and Officer candidates close on Friday, January 7, 2022, at 5:00 PM. Speeches need to be recorded prior to the January 2022 Representative Assembly. 

Nominations for OEA and NEA RA Delegates close at the January Representative Assembly, at 7:00 PM on January 12.

The Voters’ Pamphlet and Ballots will be sent electronically to members on February 7, 2022. Votes must be cast by 5:00 PM on Thursday, February 24, 2022.

For more information, you can refer to the Nomination Letter to All Members and the PAT Nominations and Elections Handbook.

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. 

Join Us Monday October 18, 2021, 4:30-5:30 PM: a SJCO subcommittee is meeting to review our current PAT resources for Native American/Indegenous Heritage Month and to make recommendations for this year and the future. Affinity representation is warmly appreciated and all members are welcome. Please sign up here to help on any of our heritage month subcommittees. The link for the October 18 meeting will be sent to everyone indicating interest in helping with Native American/Indegenous Heritage Month.

Know Your Contract: Overage Pay

The current PAT/PPS contract states, “Student loads will be calculated on the third Monday in October and the third Monday in February.” (Article 8.3.2.1)

This year, the third Monday in October is Monday, October 18th. 

All professional educators should save a copy of their Synergy class lists, and of their course preparation lists, on Friday, October 15th, and then keep a copy of that record.  

PPS will make overage payments in the November check. 

If any professional educator does not receive payment for an overage, claims can be submitted to PPS in December, by filling out a form that will be sent by PPS.

Know Your Contract: Remember to Turn in Your Educational Credits by October 31st

If you have earned educational credits over the summer, or if you are a new hire and have yet to submit your educational background, you must submit the official documentation to HR no later than October 31st  if you want the credits to count from the start of the year.

The PAT/PPS Collective Bargaining Agreement states in Article 12.2.1.3 “ In order to receive a salary adjustment retroactive to the beginning of the current school year, a professional educator must, by October 31st, provide the Human Resources Department with proof of completion of coursework. Adjustments based upon proof received after October 31st will be made effective the first day of the next pay period.”

If you submit the credits to HR after October 31st, they will move you on the salary schedule but the credits will not be counted retroactively to the start of the school year.

Mark Your Calendar: PAT Socials for Educators of Color

The PAT Racial Equity Committee is hosting Socials throughout the year for Educators of Color. Come join us from 4:00 PM-7:00 PM on the following Thursdays:  

  • January 27th
  • April 7th
  • June 2nd

We'll have food, drinks, and, most importantly, a chance to hang out with other EoC from around the district in an affinity space. 

Locations TBA. Hope to see you there!

Upcoming Events

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

  • October 20th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Instructional and Professional Development Committee
  • October 27th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Legislative Committee
  • October 27th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Membership Committee
  • October 27th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Racial Equity Committee
  • 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:

Upcoming OEA training and Events:


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