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.

OEA Fall Conference: Register Today

You are invited to join colleagues from around the state at the OEA Fall Conference. The conference, happening over October 16th, 19th, and 21st will offer online courses to build strategy around bargaining, organizing, and advocating. All sessions will be held virtually.

Register today

Read more below about the session you can sign up for.

Saturday, October 16 - 9:00-10:30AM

Bridging the Political Divide: Recruiting and Retaining Members Across the Political Spectrum 
with Rylee Ahnen, OEA Communications

Responding to Hate and Bias at School: Extended Session
with OEA member and social studies teacher Patrick Griffin, student Jessica Acee, and Rose I. Wilde of Lane ESD and "Showing Up for Racial Justice" Springfield-Eugene Leadership Team

Saturday, October 16 - 11:30AM-1:00PM

Bargaining for Equity 
with PAT President Elizabeth Thiel & OEA Consultant Lesly Munoz

Responding to Hate and Bias at School: Extended Session
with OEA member and social studies teacher Patrick Griffin, student Jessica Acee, and Rose I. Wilde of Lane ESD and "Showing Up for Racial Justice" Springfield-Eugene Leadership Team

Tuesday, October 19 - 5:00-6:00PM

Preparing Now for Spring Bargaining 
with Robert Young, OEA Bargaining Coordinator

Collaborative Problem Solving: Getting to Yes! 
with Klamath City EA President Maureen Lundy & OEA Consultant Bob Gray

Responding to Public Attacks on OEA Members Implementing Social Justice Standards 
with Teresa Ferrer, OEA Equity Coordinator

Understanding Implicit Bias 
with Lindsay Ray, Beaverton EA Vice President

Gender Savvy: Creating an Inclusive School Climate
with Basic Rights Oregon

Thursday, October 21 - 5:00-6:00PM

Bargaining Strategies for Disrupted Learning
with Robert Young, OEA Bargaining Coordinator

Advocating for Licensed Members with Performance Issues
with OEA Consultants Allison Orton and Bob Gray

Responding to Hate and Bias at School 
with OEA member and social studies teacher Patrick Griffin, student Jessica Acee, and Rose I. Wilde of Lane ES

Register today. Download the event flier for more details on all the courses offered over these three days.

Upcoming Social for Educators of Color

 

The Racial Equity Committee Co-Chairs, Lindell Stone and Darshanpreet Gill, will be hosting a social for Educators of Color (EoC) in PPS and you're invited! 

When: This Thursday (10/07) from 4:00 PM-7:00 PM

Where: Catalina's (517 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97211)

What: Come hang out with other EoC from around the district while enjoying some food and drinks provided by the union! 

Who: PAT Members who identify as a person of color

PLEASE RSVP HERE

COVID-19 Safety: Please wear a mask and maintain distance. There will be outside seating available. To keep the group-size smaller, please just bring yourself, and your colleagues who are also PAT members of color (not other friends and family at this time). 

Hope to see you there!

Lindell & Darshanpreet
Co-Chairs, PAT Racial Equity Committee



Portland Association of Teachers · 345 NE 8th, Portland Association of Teachers, Portland, OR 97232, United States
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President's Message: Bargaining for Smaller Classes

Dear Educator,

For years, our union has been fighting for smaller class sizes and caseloads. Many of you remember organizing with educators across the state to walk out of school on May 8, 2019, demanding permanent, statewide funding to support lower class sizes.

There are so many reasons why small class-size and caseloads matter: to give our students the attention they need and deserve; to create meaningful curriculum that is responsive to the individual students we serve; to foster positive classroom climate; to build the relationships and sense of community we know are at the core of learning.

This year more than ever, class size is a matter of health and safety.

Even when we aren’t in a global pandemic, overloaded class sizes and caseloads keep us from giving our students the support they deserve. Oregon continually ranks among the very worst states in the nation for class size. Student to staff ratios for specialists like school counselors and psychologists, school nurses, speech language pathologists, and special education are often more than double the national recommendations. And our students are paying the price.

Despite being one of the most important determinants of student learning, our union has not been able to fight for smaller class sizes at the bargaining table because class size was not considered a “mandatory” subject of bargaining under Oregon law.

Instead, we were forced to frame the conversation as a matter of workload, which is considered a “mandatory” subject of bargaining, and PAT has negotiated overage pay for educators with a class size or caseload exceeding specified thresholds.

Our position has always been that we do not want ANY teacher to have class sizes or caseloads that require overage pay. We want caseloads and class sizes that allow us to meaningfully engage our students. 

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the consequences of not being able to negotiate class size and caseloads. Across the District we have cohort sizes that DO NOT meet safety and health guidelines from OHA, OSHA, and ODE. 

This has to change. And we now have a new tool to make the change we need. 

This summer, the Oregon Legislature passed SB 580making class sizes and caseloads at Title 1 schools a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. This new law goes into effect January 1, 2022, which means this spring, when we start bargaining our next contract with the District, we can finally talk about class size directly.

This is a huge step in the right direction. We are hopeful that, by starting with our Title I schools, we can change the tenor of conversations about class sizes across the District. 

When we demand smaller class sizes and caseloads, we are fighting for our students and our public education system. But we also need the state of Oregon to finally fully fund our schools, at least to the level of the Quality Education Model. As we struggle to “build back better” during the ongoing crisis, Oregon has the chance to finally put the resources behind the rhetoric. 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

Know Your Contract: What to Do When a Student Won’t Wear a Mask

The PAT office has received numerous calls asking what to do when building administration will not enforce our safety agreement that requires students to wear masks. 

The answer is straightforward. We need affected PAT members to document the problem, so track the number of times a day you ask a student to wear their mask (or wear it properly), and the number of times you’ve requested your building administrator intervene to enforce the mask requirement. Obviously, this does not include students whose medical needs prevent them from wearing a mask.

If your administrator balks at enforcing the mask mandate, you can also share this section of the Oregon Department of Education’s Ready Schools, Safe Learner guidelines, updated on September 9th:

In the case that a student or family chooses not to wear a face covering for reasons other than medical need or disability, schools should follow district processes to determine how to respond keeping in mind both the responsibility for health and safety and the student’s need to access education. Conversations should be progressive and lead to resolution that ideally does not involve suspension. Schools cannot serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. Schools may offer a remote or online school option for the student. (italics and bold added)

The process of how to respond was laid out in our Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA) which states in Section 11.j, “The District shall not serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. The District may offer a remote or online option for such students.”

Documenting how many times you have had to request that a student wear a mask is how we demonstrate the “progressive” element of the RSSL guidance. By doing this you can help your administrator do their job--having a conversation with the student that resolves the issue and hopefully avoids suspension. Keep in mind, remote education is NOT suspension

If an administrator is finding it difficult to do their job and enforce our safety agreement, please have your building rep contact the PAT office with the details (no student names) of your efforts, and we will inform the District and school community of its failure to enforce a ratified agreement.

Know Your Contract: What Do I Do if I Need to Isolate or Quarantine?

Under the terms of our PAT-PPS contract and our Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA), educators should not suffer any loss of pay or accrued benefits if you are forced to quarantine or isolate following a COVID-19 exposure or illness. You can now use “Quarantine” as “reason” in Frontline. Your school’s timekeeper also has a code for “Quarantine Leave.”

If you have had to quarantine or isolate, and it was coded as sick leave or other accrued leave, please ask your building’s timekeeper to correct it. If this doesn’t work, please contact Peter Brogan ([email protected]). 

 

Know Your Contract: COVID-19 Notifications Must Happen within 24 Hours

We have received a number of reports that the District is not notifying educators about confirmed COVID-19 cases in their building. The language in our Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA) is very clear on this matter. If you are in a building where a COVID-19 case has been confirmed, you MUST be notified within 24 hours by email. 

PAT has met with the District to press for immediate resolution of this problem and they assured us that they are going to be streamlining their process. In the meantime, please stay vigilant and work with your building reps and safety committees to identify and address any additional violations, and please contact PAT so we can continue to pressure District leaders. For any questions on these notification requirements, please refer to Section 11e from our Safety LOA.

Know Your Contract: When Do I Cover for an Absent Colleague?

The PAT Office has received numerous questions about whether or not members must cover class for an absent colleague. 

The answer is in Article 8, Section 7.1 which states:

“Every effort will be made to employ substitute teachers to cover classes of absent teachers. Except in true emergency situations and except as otherwise provided in 8.7.2, professional educators shall not be required to substitute for other professional educators.”

Our contract also states that educators shall receive daily planning periods in high school and middle school, and in elementary schools daily planning time and 320 minutes per week of planning time. Any member who is asked to cover class for an absent colleague should ask when the planning time will be made up that same day. If daily planning time is not provided, a member should submit for pay the minutes of lost planning time.

If you are asked to cover a class, and you are willing to volunteer that is fine. However, you must be paid for lost planning time if you do. If you do not want to cover the class, then you do not have to volunteer. Students must have a licensed adult directing a class, but that can be the building administrator. 

If you are directed to cover the class, inform your building rep and PAT will evaluate the situation to determine if a grievance should be filed.

Celebrate Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month with PAT

Join us in celebrating Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month September 15th - October 15th! During this time, we commemorate the beauty of our gente, our cultures, and the endless contributions to our society Latinos continue to make today. 

The PAT Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee has compiled resources you can use with your students, including: 

  • Resources For Your Classroom

  • Latinx Heritage Books For Children Of All Ages

  • Videos Of Pat Educators Reading To Latinx Heritage Books For Students

You can find it all on our website

Are you doing anything in your classroom to recognize Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month? Share pictures with us and use the hashtags #hispanicheritagemonth #LHMPAT on social media so we can all see the ways you are honoring and uplifting Latinx voices at your school! Adelante!

Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference: Saturday October 23rd

PAT is once again excited to sponsor the Northwest Teaching For Social Justice Conference! The annual gathering of conversation, idea-sharing, and inspiration is just a few weeks away.

Join us ONLINE on Saturday, October 23, 2021. The cost is just $10 — $5 for students.

Register Now

The keynote talk this year is Dr. Bettina Love, an award-winning author, co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN), and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. Her books include We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and The Pursuit of Educational Freedom and Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South.

In addition, there are dozens of educator-led workshops lined up in 2 sessions. See the full program at www.nwtsj.org.

We hope you can make it!

PAT Supports Health Care for all Oregon

Recently your PAT Executive Board once again voted to continue our membership with Health Care for All Oregon. PAT has been an official member of Health Care for All Oregon for many years. 

HCAO believes everyone should receive the health care they need, when they need it. While PAT members bargain and negotiate for our quality health care, we also believe everyone should have access to health care without going bankrupt. Often our own insurance costs increase due to others not having it. Health care is a human right. 

Among many areas, Health Care for All Oregon introduces and lobbies for bills in the legislature to provide universal access to healthcare. PAT, along with other faith, labor, and communities of color, supports this organization. For more information or to sign a letter of support www.HCAO.org

Grant Opportunities for Educators

The PAT Instruction and Professional Development Committee encourages you to apply for the following grant opportunities through OEA.

OEA Promising Practice Grant

Every year, OEA gives Promising Practice Grants to educators to support student learning and professional development for OEA members across Oregon. This year, there is $2,000 available for grants to PAT members. Members may apply for grant funds up to $1,000. Grants can be used to fund projects or materials that support improved student achievement.

Applications are due November 1, 2021. See our website for more information, including criteria, project timelines, and the full application.

Educator Empowerment Grant

OEA is taking applications for a *new* grant opportunity. Education Empowerment grants are awarded to help local associations engage members around important issues that impact teaching and learning. The grant may be used to support professional learning and/or to enhance and improve professional practice in a specific area. This grant should focus on solving an issue that will create a lasting impact on professional practice in a local. It is not meant to be used to purchase consumable materials and/or classroom supplies. 

Grant requests should correspond with the local association and/or school district’s mission/vision/goals, and must relate to engaging members on professional practice issues. Awards will be from $1000 - $5000.

Grant applicants must have communicated their intent to apply to their local association President. If you would like to apply, please contact PAT President Elizabeth Thiel ([email protected]) to set up a time to discuss your proposed application.

All applications are due by October 15, 2021, and projects must be completed by June 15, 2022. See our website for more information, including criteria, project timelines, and a link to the full application.

2021-22 OER Development Grant: Supporting Students who are Emergent Bilingual

New grant opportunity! Are you an Oregon secondary teacher who has experience working with students who are emergent bilingual? The Oregon Open Learning team invites you to apply individually or as a part of a team to participate in a new grant opportunity for the 2021-22 school year focused on developing open educational resources (OER) to support students who are emergent bilingual. Grant award: $5000. More information and the grant application can be found on ODE’s OER Grant & Professional Learning Opportunities webpage.

Oregon Education Association Fall Conference Kickoff

The OEA Fall Conference is here! Join us for three days of courses on advocacy, bargaining, member rights, and more. Find out more details and register online. Dates and times include:

  • Saturday Oct. 16 (9-10:30 a.m. and 11-12:30 p.m.)
  • Tuesday Oct. 19 (5-6 p.m.)
  • Thursday, Oct. 21 (5-6 p.m.)

Join OEA’s Autumn Outreach to Potential members in Portland this October 23rd at PAT

Over the last 18 months, many of our new hires have missed out on the traditional union welcome that we normally provide. Join us Saturday October 23rd as we reach out to potential members door-to-door, via text, and over the phone.

We know that a personal ask from another educator is the most effective way to get new educators to join PAT. On October 23rd we will focus our energies not just on potential PAT members, but also on new educators living in the Portland metro area who are working in other nearby districts and have not yet joined our state union. 

Sign up today to help with this outreach:

THE DETAILS

Date: Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

Where: PAT Office

When: 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM

You’ll receive a $75 gift card as a special thanks for giving time to this important cause!

Upcoming Events

  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM:Advocacy Committee
  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice/Community Outreach Committee
  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee

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

  • Rep Assembly, October 13th, 4:30-7:30 PM

Northwest Teaching For Social Justice Conference, October 23rd

Upcoming OEA training and Events:

Connection Before Curriculum: Social and Emotional Learning for Students and Staff --September 29, 4:00-5:00 PM

Facilitating Online Learning for Adults, Course Start Date: October 4th, All Day

OEA Fall Conference -- October 16th 19thg and 21st, 2021 9:00 AM- 1:00 PM

New Educator Toolbelt Series: Student Debt Relief--October 21st, 4:30-6:00 PM

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

http://www.pdxteachers.org/