COVID-19 Safety Reminders

Dear Educator,

Here are some important reminders about our COVID-19 Safety Agreements

Masks and Ventilation and Social Distancing

  • KN95 masks are more effective than cloth or surgical masks for preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Our safety agreement requires that KN95 masks are available to any educator who requests them. If your building does not have a supply of KN95 masks, make a verbal and written request to your principal.
  • Use your HEPA-air purifier on high, and keep your door or window open. Our safety agreement requires that there be HEPA purifiers sufficient for the space.
  • Make sure students remain distanced and masked. This is in our agreement, and mask wearing is required by the state, as well.
  • Check with your safety committee to ensure there is a plan for lunch that ensures students maintain at least 6 feet while eating.

Quarantine and Isolation

  • Staff and students should not come to school if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. Remind parents not to send their children to school if they have any symptoms.
  • If you have tested positive or otherwise been told by a health professional to isolate or quarantine, you can use Quarantine Leave for your absence. 
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and have been advised by a licensed health care provider to get tested for COVID-19 and refrain from working within a reasonable timeframe, you may also use Quarantine Leave.


  • If you become symptomatic at school, you can access a rapid test at your school site.
  • Staff who are asymptomatic and were exposed to COVID-19, can access a test at the BESC before or after school. Check here for hours and availability of tests. [NOTE: as of the drafting of this email, the link says that “testing is full” for January 10th.]
  • If you become symptomatic when you are not at school, you should utilize your health provider or other opportunities to get tested for COVID-19. 

It has been widely reported that many people are having to wait a week or more to access testing. In the meantime, symptomatic people awaiting a test should stay home. We know that is greatly impacting staffing, attendance, and anxiety levels about our schools 

We are hearing many concerns about staffing levels and student attendance rates at schools across the District. We have formally requested school-by-school data from the District and are awaiting a response. 

Thank you for all you do to support your students and your colleagues in this very difficult time.

Portland Association of Teachers

Deadline Approaching! Apply Today for the Racial Justice Institute Fellowship

We wanted to pass on to Educators of Color the following opportunity to apply for the Racial Justice Institute Fellowship. See their flyer.

In the summer of 2019, the Educator Advancement Council piloted several sessions for culturally and linguistically diverse educators. That pilot helped craft the framework for the launch of the Educator Advancement Council's Racial Justice Institute.

The Racial Justice Institute (RJI) - taking place between January 2022 and June 2023 - is created to support and achieve culturally and racially affirming environments for educators serving Oregon’s Pre-K to 12 School Systems. This includes developing and facilitating a collaborative, educational environment for racially, ethnically, or linguistically diverse educators and that provides leadership to support culturally and sustaining pedagogical approaches and racial justice in school communities. There are two parts to the RJI: A Fellowship and the Network.

The RJI Network includes regular facilitated virtual learning sessions that will include learnings from the fields, opportunities for personal story sharing, and connecting with other educators who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse across the state who are also impacted by inequities. Sessions will include keynote speakers from a national network of leaders on topics which will be shown on this calendar page.

The RJI Fellowship will support 30 culturally and linguistically diverse participants to engage in racial justice learning, leadership, and project development in school communities (application linked here). Fellows will participate in collaborative, place-based projects to create more racially affirming educational spaces across the Pre-K to 12 school system.  They will have monthly, day-long virtual sessions with inspirational leaders, educators, healers, and social movement change makers to learn from in community with the group of 30 fellows from across the state of Oregon.  Fellows will be provided with a $20,000 stipend and funds to cover substitute teacher cost.

  • What is the Fellowship timeline?  January 2022 - June 2023
  • When are the Fellowship virtual sessions?  The first session will be on January 26, 2022 from 9am- 12pm. Because of substitute teacher shortages, we have scheduled sessions two and three on Saturdays (Feb 19 and Mar 12).  To best meet fellows needs, all subsequent monthly sessions will be determined by consensus with the Fellows.
  • Who can apply to the Fellowship? Racially, ethnically, or linguistically diverse educators across the Pre-K to 12 school system in Oregon should apply and their experiences and safety will be centered. 
  • How do applicants apply? In an effort to make the process as easy as possible, applicants need only submit an application form by January 10, 2022 at midnight. Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and fellows will be accepted on a rolling basis. We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible in order to increase your chances of acceptance.

For more information please contact Jonah Canner at [email protected]. Finally, click here to read our FAQs, where you will also find the Fellowship Goals & Program Components and the Arcs of Learning.

Yours in Education,

Shadiin Garcia, Racial Justice Facilitator & Jonah Canner, IDEA Racial Justice Institute Coordinator

Update on Workload Bargaining- January 2, 2022

Dear Educator,

In August, we demanded to bargain with the District over the workload impacts of the pandemic. The District finally sat down to formally begin this critical discussion in November. By then it was clear that our untenable workload– exacerbated by the pandemic conditions– was creating a staffing crisis that threatens our ability to safely run our schools.

We clearly stated our goal of offering educators meaningful workload relief, and creating better systems of support for students before the winter break, so that our community could have time to adjust to any changes, and so that students and educators could come back in January with some confidence that things will get better. 

After 5 sessions of bargaining, it became abundantly clear that the District wasn’t willing to offer any significant workload relief for educators, or any meaningful improvements in student safety or student academic/emotional support. Therefore, today, we informed the District we are withdrawing from these talks.

You can watch the latest sessions here: December 16th Parts 12, and 3; December 17th Parts 123, and 4.

The Crisis We are Facing

With over 1,400 PAT educators responding to our survey that they are considering leaving the profession, and the District’s own data highlighting the multiple crises facing our school communities, your PAT Bargaining Team pushed District leaders for immediate action.

We are dangerously understaffed, safety is a constant concern in our buildings, and many students urgently need targeted support.  These problems will continue to get much worse if the District does not change course. In order to preserve this school year, and have hope that next year can be better, we need to readjust by making this year manageable for educators and responsive to student needs.  

Our Solutions: The Time to Get it Right

In response to this crisis, PAT proposed a series of adjustments designed to give educators the time they need to meaningfully support students and create a positive and safe school environment. All of our proposals came from what educators said they need to better meet students this school year: 

  • Time for educators to adapt instruction to meet student needs and to give feedback to students and families
  • Time for educators to collaborate with SpEd, ELL, Social Workers and content teams
  • Time for school staff to work together on school climate for student safety and learning
  • Temporary removal of job duties that do not immediately have an impact on student learning
  • A requirement that PPS BESC staff who are not PAT members pitch in to help when there are para-educator vacancies and absences 

The District indicated that they shared the goal of addressing the crisis we are facing. However, they rejected almost all of PAT’s proposals, including common sense changes that do not impact student instructional time:

  • They refused to give professional educators any autonomy in how we use our “Professional Learning Community” meetings (PLC’s), insisting that all PLC collaboration time must be fully administrator-directed
  • They refused to lift the cap on compensating Special Educators for IEP writing, while also refusing to agree that Special Educators can not be expected to do legally-required work outside the contract day if the District refuses to pay for it.  This is a failure to offer support for Special Education students.
  • They refused to begin the New Year with a day to work on school climate. While the District agrees student safety and learning depend on schools having a building-wide School Climate Plan, they refused to use the natural opportunity of winter break to allow schools a meaningful opportunity to reset. Ironically, the District rejected our proposal (which we presented in November) by asserting that administrators need a month in January to prepare for one day of school climate work.
  • In the last minutes of discussion, they revealed that their “offer” to add a planning day in March was in fact just a proposal to shift a planning day we already have in June, while still expecting educators to complete all the end-of-year tasks and duties which that day is for. 

After analyzing the practical implementation of the District’s proposals, it is clear that the totality of what they are proposing fails to provide genuine or adequate support for educators and students.  

The only conclusion we can draw from this is that the District is banking on educators to shoulder the burden and legal liability of a dangerously understaffed system.  The District is expecting parents and students to accept a system where student safety is in question, and any meaningful support for struggling students depends on educators working on their own time, outside of the system that PPS has created. 

The District says it understands the needs of students and educators and that it is trying to balance the needs of both.  But those needs are not in opposition: to meet students’ needs, PPS must listen to what professional educators know is necessary to meet those needs. And it should be obvious that pushing educators past their breaking point invariably hurts students.  

Next Steps

The District has always had the power to work with the PAT to make changes it believes are necessary to address the crisis we are in.  We call on the District to do so now.  Any proposal put forth by the District that, in fact, benefits students and educators can be assured the fast-track vetting by PAT necessary for rapid implementation.

In the meantime, given the ongoing staffing crisis, we can only recommend that educators set personal boundaries which allow them to persevere until conditions improve.  Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup - we are not serving our students, our communities, or ourselves by careening to our own breaking points.  We must all set realistic expectations of ourselves, and support our colleagues in doing the same. It is ok to say, “this is all I can do” and let that be enough.

In the coming month, it is essential that our union shifts focus to fully implementing our COVID-19 safety agreements and making sure we do everything we can to keep school staff and students as safe as possible during this wave of the pandemic.  

Your PAT Bargaining Team is now focusing on negotiations for a successor agreement to our current contract, which expires at the end of this school year.  We will seek major improvements to the teaching and learning conditions in our schools, and will propose language to address vital issues such as class size, planning time, school safety, and fair compensation that keeps up with inflation.  We believe that we can and will achieve these goals as long as we are fully united in fighting for them. More communications about the timeline and process for successor bargaining will be forthcoming. 

In a moment when so many of our colleagues are feeling despair, we fervently believe that the collective actions of thousands of passionate professional educators can reignite hope and bring lasting improvements to our schools in 2022 and beyond. We will continue to fight for our vision, in which becoming an educator is not only a calling, but a career that attracts highly-skilled and diverse professionals, and supports beloved educators to remain in these positions throughout their professional lives. Our students deserve no less. 

In Solidarity,

Your PAT Bargaining Team

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

Our COVID Safety Agreements: Reminders and Highlights (1/1/22)

Dear Educator,

Over winter break, the spread of COVID-19 in our community has increased drastically. While there is reason to hope that the omicron variant is milder than previous strains, and that vaccinated individuals remain at much lower risk of severe illness if infected, the Oregon Health Authority has predicted that Oregon hospitals will be overwhelmed in the coming month. 

Together we have fought for some of the strongest safety agreements in the country, and it is more important than ever that we make sure they are followed, to keep students, school staff, and our community as safe as possible.

Of course, if you are feeling sick, STAY HOME and use Absence Management to request a guest teacher, as soon as you know you will be gone.  NBC reported that a cough, congestion, runny nose, and fatigue appear to be prominent symptoms with the omicron variant.  

If you are experiencing any COVID symptoms or if you have had direct contact with someone who has COVID, get tested. The CDC and OHA have updated their recommendation that fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 be tested 5-7 days after exposure, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Although the CDC recently shortened the recommended period for isolation to 5 days after a positive test for the general population, the Oregon Health Authority is still recommending a 10-day isolation or quarantine period for schools

Please review our COVID-19 Safety agreements, as well as the guidance from ODE. Below are some highlights.

Our LOA on COVID-19 Safety (8/2021) states that:

  • Staff and students exposed* to COVID-19 must be excluded. (1) (*The OHA currently defines “exposed” as people who are not fully vaccinated)
  • KN-95 must be provided to any educator who requests them. “Subject to availability” is in case there is a supply shortage. (3)
  • When educators need to self-isolate due to being COVID-positive, they will not lose pay. (4)

Per our MOA Vaccine Mandate Effects between the Coalition of Unions and Portland Public Schools  you may use “quarantine leave” if any of the following are true:

  • you are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; 
  • you been advised by a public health official to self-quarantine or isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19; 
  • you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have been advised by a licensed health care provider to get tested for COVID-19 and refrain from working within a reasonable timeframe;
  • you are diagnosed with COVID-19. (10 a and b)
  • You may also use your quarantine leave for up to 3 days of missed work due to side effects of receiving a booster shot (Vaccine Mandate MOA, 8).

Ready Schools, Safe Learners (RSSL) and Planning for COVID-19 Scenarios in Schools (both updated 12/13/2021) give the following guidance:

  • People who have COVID-19 should isolate for 10 days after their symptoms started (or, if they have no symptoms, for 10 days after the test date) and 24 hours after any fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medicine (COVID-19 Sceneries, p 4)
  • Any person who is not fully vaccinated and who has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19 should quarantine at home. (COVID-19 Sceneries, p 4)
  • ODE says that close contacts who have been fully immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine are not required to quarantine. Fully immunized close contacts should still monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 during the 14 days after exposure, and if symptoms develop they should isolate and seek testing. (COVID-19 Sceneries, p 5)
  • All individuals 5 years of age and older are required to wear a face covering while indoors in a K-12 school, during school hours, unless they have an accommodation for a medical need or disability. Schools cannot serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. (RSSL p 9)

We have asked district leaders for an update on their plans to address any potential staffing shortage, and to reinforce safety mitigation in the schools, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and solutions for lunch-time. We are currently awaiting a response.

Wishing you health and fortitude in the New Year,

Portland Association of Teachers

President's Message: Time to Get It Right

Dear Educator, 

In the last few months, PAT has been in the spotlight, locally and nationally. Our campaign for the Time to Get It Right for our students grew directly out of your needs, ideas, and priorities. Our proposals are all designed to address the crushing stress that educators are experiencing this year, the necessity to turn around a historic staffing crisis, and the need to better serve our students during this incredibly challenging year for all of us.

We are not alone. Educators around the country, and from as far away as Brazil, have been reaching out in solidarity because they’ve experienced similar struggles and they share our vision. Together, we are all working toward a public education system that values each one of our students, and our educators and school staff. 

Here in Oregon, we are in solidarity with educators around the state. This weekend, the Oregonian published my op-ed about the workforce crisis, which was co-signed by 46 education union presidents in Oregon. The op-ed details how this workforce crisis impacts our students, and why we owe it to them to find solutions that allow beloved educators to continue in this profession– throughout this year and for the long haul.

On behalf of the entire PAT Executive Board, we are wishing you rest and rejuvenation, as well as hope this winter break, as we continue to organize for a public school system designed to enable students and educators to be their best selves. 


In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

PAT Office and Advocacy Cadre Closed for Winter Break

There will be no PAT Advocacy Cadre hours during winter break, Monday December 20 or December 27th. The Advocacy Cadre will return for regular Monday Zoom drop-ins on January 3rd, 2022 from 5:00-6:30P.M. 

The PAT office will also be closed from December 20th through December 31st. PAT staff will return January 3rd.

Overage Payments for First Semester

Article 8 in the 2020-2022 PAT Contract defines workload “thresholds” for class-size, teaching load, caseload, and the number of unique course preparations. PPS is required to compensate educators whose workload exceeds those thresholds. 

October 18th was the date for determining individual workloads and calculating overage pay for the fall semester. If you qualified for overage pay this fall, you should have received your stipend in a separate check on the November payday.

Overage pay for the second semester will be calculated on either Friday, February 18 or Tuesday, February 22, 2022 (the  third Monday date called for in the CBA is Presidents’ Day, 2/21/2022). 

If you did not receive the pay you anticipated for the first semester, please notify PPS payroll and HR immediately (using this link) and a PPS HR representative will review your information and respond about whether or not they will make any corrections. 

Teacher for a Day

On Tuesday,  December 14th the PAT Legislative Committee hosted their Teacher for a Day event. We had 23 teachers hosting school board members, legislators, legislative candidates, union leaders, and District personnel across the city. Teachers put their guests to work teaching lessons and leading small groups, and provided them with  the authentic experience of a frontline PPS educator.

After spending several hours in classrooms, teachers and their guests were invited to the PAT office for a debrief of their time in the classroom. Our teachers clearly communicated the intensive needs of so many of our students this year, and the difficulty of meeting those needs when we are under-resourced and short staffed. 

Many thanks to all our host teachers and their guests!

  • Chris Adams-Brown @  Roseway Heights hosted Colleen Connolly, Schoolhouse Supplies Programs Manager 
  • Caitlyn Angulo @  Rigler hosted Enrique Farrera, OEA Vice President 

  • Jacqueline Borean @ George hosted Sara Ryan, Multnomah County Commissioner Jayapal's Chief of Staff 

  • Megan Boyeas @  Beverly Cleary hosted Nolberto Delgadillo, PPS Chief Financial Officer 

  • Samantha Breen @  Woodmere hosted Courtney Westling, PPS Director of Government Relations 

  • Brennan Brockbank @  Grant  hosted Lisa Roth, All Hands Raised Vice President of Strategic Engagement & Communication 

  • Alisha Chavez @  Atkinson hosted Liz Large, PPS Contracted General Counsel

  • Brittany Dorris @  Capitol Hill hosted Dacia Grayber, Oregon State House Representative 

  • Sam Fisher @  Kelly hosted Casey Kulla, Yamhill County Commissioner 

  • Laura Fisher @  Roosevelt hosted Eric Delehoy, Oregon State Representative Candidate

  • Kate Good @  Beaumont hosted Jessica Vega Pederson, Multnomah County Commissioner 

  • Grace Groom  @  Markham hosted Christine Lewis, Metro Councilor 

  • Amy Henry @  Benson hosted Lori Stegmann,  Multnomah County Commissioner

  • Ginger Huizar @  George hosted Sharon Reese, PPS Chief Human Resources Officer 

  • Daniel Jacobs @  Roseway Heights hosted Andrew Scott,  PPS School Board Vice Chair 

  • Katy Janega @  Woodlawn hosted Shannon Singleton, Multnomah County Chair Candidate 

  • Cecelia Kauth @  Whitman hosted Julia Brim-Edwards, PPS School Board Member 

  • Ian Mauer @  Cleveland hosted Rob Nosse, Oregon State Representative

  • Cynthia Radler-Okby @  Roosevelt hosted Tina Kotek, Oregon Legislature Speaker of the House 

  • Laurel Richards  @  West Sylvan hosted Maxine Dexter, Oregon State House Representative 

  • Emily Robins @ Roseway Heights hosted Barbara Smith Warner, Oregon House Majority Leader 

  • Michele Stahlecker @ Harrison Park hosted Reed Scott-Schwalbach, OEA President 

  • Ciara Williams @ George hosted Eilidh Lowery, PPS Board Member

Reminder: Nominations for PAT Elections are Open

PAT is a democratic organization, and our leaders are elected by you and all our members. Our elections are held via electronic ballot in February. This year there are open positions for the following: 

  • PAT President
  • PAT Vice President
  • PAT Secretary
  • PAT Treasurer
  • PAT Executive Board Director-at-Large (5 seats)
  • OEA RA Delegate (approximately 40 seats) Nominate yourself here
  • NEA RA Delegate (approximately 28 seats, 9 of which are funded to travel)

Any PAT member in good standing may run for elected position. Nominations for these positions are now open. Nominations for Executive Board and Officer candidates will close on Friday, January 7, 2022, at 5:00 PM, and nominations for OEA and NEA RA Delegates close at 7:00 PM on January 12 at the January RA.

Learn more, and find online nomination forms on our website. Contact [email protected] with any questions about these positions.

Grants for Students in Need

When Oregon students wake up and head to school, things look different this year. But one thing hasn’t changed: our students living in shelters, struggling with poverty, navigating the foster care system or grappling with parental illness, come to school with a few less resources than other students. That’s where the OEA Foundation can step in. A new winter jacket, waterproof boots, personal hygiene products – these are the types of basic and essential needs our students have that the Foundation covers. If you have a student who needs extra support to cover the basics, consult the complete OEA Foundation guidelines today and apply with the easy online application.  

If you are able, we invite every OEA member to give through payroll deduction, even just $1 per month to the Foundation – 100% of every dollar donated goes to support Oregon public school students. 

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

Know Your Contract: Retirement Deadline is Approaching

The early notice deadline for resignation or retirement is fast approaching. If you submit a written notice of resignation or retirement no later than January 15th, you will receive $1,250. See Article 18.2.1 of the PAT-PPS Collective Bargaining Agreement. Please keep in mind that once you submit your resignation, you are still required to complete the full academic year.

Donate to The PAT Sick-Leave Bank

Donate up to 40 hours of your sick-leave to help a colleague in need.

Last school year, dozens of colleagues exhausted their accumulated leave balances and were unable to work due to extended or recurring personal illness. Thanks to the generosity of so many of you, PAT was able to help them avoid the additional hardships of lost salary and lost insurance coverage through the Sick Leave Bank .

Last year we met our goal of collecting the maximum number of voluntarily donated hours allowed under our contract. Recent improvements in our contract (CBA Article mean that we now have almost enough hours in the Sick Leave Bank to fulfill all applications for assistance. This is a great way putting our principles into practice, and showing the District that an injury to one is an injury to all.

You can donate hours by filling out this online form! You will need to log in with your PPS email account and include your PPS employee ID number on the form.

For more information, and to apply to the sick-leave bank, go to our website.

Thank you for being part of this crucial program that allows us to support our colleagues through our union.

January 6th Upcoming Webinar: Should I Stay or Should I Go: Retirement Planning Webinar with Ed Foster

Join us and Financial Advisor Ed Foster on Thursday, January 6th at 4:30 PM-6:00 PM, via Zoom, to get all the information on PERS, pensions, and IAP accounts. Get the knowledge you need to best strategize your plan for retirement.  

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

January 13th Upcoming Webinar: Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire

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

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.

Upcoming Events


  • December 16th, beginning around 1:00PM: PAT/PPS Bargaining Live Stream 
  • December 17th, beginning around 10:00AM: PAT/PPS Bargaining Live Stream 

Watch your Bargaining Team in action on our YouTube Channel

Other PAT Events:

  • January 6th, 4:30-6:00PM on Zoom: Should I Stay or Should I Go: Retirement Planning Seminar with Ed Foster RSVP today!
  • January 13th, 4:30-6:30PM on Zoom: Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire: Upcoming Webinar. RSVP today!

Upcoming OEA training and Events:

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

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

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.


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.