As you all know, Jacque and I receive a lot of emails from educators reaching out for help. We noticed an increase in Special Educators reaching out for help, and recently learned that last year there was a 30% turnover in the Special Ed department.
A Harm to One is a Harm to All
We met with a small SpEd steering group on a Monday. By the end of the week we had a hybrid listening session that allowed members to share their experiences, identify trends, and identify possible actions. We finalized the plan with the original SpEd steering group and tried to order buttons, stickers, and other materials in time for the RA. We wanted the actions to coincide with our next bargaining session on November 1st so the SpEd focus and the bargaining focus coincided, uplifting both. Behind the scenes, we were connecting with media outlets, writing up grievances, and creating social media posts to get the word out. This was quite the endeavor to get done in about 2-3 weeks!
Thank you to all of our Executive Board members, our Reps, our organizers, and every special educator who came out to our Listening Sessions and thank you to every educator, community member, and ally that participated in our week of action! Special shout out to the folks who came out on a Sunday to pick up buttons for their schools and those who cranked out hundreds of buttons to make sure we had enough for every special educator. We had close to 60% of our sites pick up buttons and stickers on Sunday. When possible, we will make sure those materials go out in RA packets in the future. Thank you for being flexible with the quick turnaround!
The Special Education Week of Action inspired the Eugene EA to do a similar action, as well as inquiries from folks over in St. Paul, MN over our process and materials. Although not everything came out perfectly, our actions showed PPS and our Special Educators that a harm to one is a harm to all! So far, all news coverage (here, here, and here) on our rally has been positive and encouraged folks to check out bargaining.
I am so proud to be your PAT President and we will continue to reach out and listen to our educators’ concerns. We recently met with our TOSAs around their workload increase and have a date scheduled to meet with our Pre-K/Head Start educators. Remember: We can only act on what we know is happening. Speak up, listen to each other, and support each other! The only way forward is together!