President's Message: Look for the Light

Hello Educators,

At the last board meeting, there were parents and educators who spoke to the issues in Special Education. They raised concerns about the push towards “Inclusion” for our students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). One spoke to her daughter's multiple suspensions during her kindergarten year until she was placed in a focus classroom where she began to thrive. 

These are the types of stories PPS is choosing to ignore when they push for inclusion without fully defining it for educators or families. We have yet to hear what that will look like or how we will staff and support it. When it was my turn to speak, I shared this concern and made it plain: It is surprising and inappropriate that PPS is already sending out a survey to parents with each IEP asking for their opinion on the concept of inclusion (check out the flyer here) without completing a bargain with us. 

As one parent who participated in the Southeast Guiding Coalition explained to PDXParents, “PPS’s decision to move on despite SEGC not reaching consensus was eye opening. ‘It basically told us what we had begun to suspect: On some level we were there so PPS could say that they had sought our input’”. Another stated, “In terms of the process, the district disregarded votes by the committee, dissenting voices among staff, and manipulated students and families to achieve their ends. I felt disenfranchised, disrespected, and like my time and my community’s time (had been) wasted.” PAT believes that there should not be decisions made about families without families, or about us without us. Please invite families at your N/NE Portland sites to our first of at least three Community Listening Sessions, at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, December 13th, where we will ask community members to share which of our bargaining priorities are priorities for them too. See the Flyer HERE

Solidarity Forever

"When the days are short and you haven't recovered from the exhaustion of late fall, look for the light." -Elena Aguilar, Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators

Bargaining is draining. Fighting for what we know our students and colleagues deserve can be heartbreaking. Educators at PPS and across the country are working more than ever to serve higher needs than ever. With so much on everyone’s plates, it can be hard to find the positive and express gratitude when you are overwhelmed, overworked, and under appreciated. One thing I’ve learned as an instructional coach is that we have to train our brains to “look for the light”. Meditation is hard for me to keep up, but I can build my practice of expressing gratitude. One free, small, doable step you can take is to notice the little things in your life. It can be really hard nowadays but we're in this together. That's one thing I'm grateful for.

Every day, at the end of the day, I would line my students up and say to them, "In case no one told you today, you're awesome and I love you." I realize now I was practicing gratitude daily every year I had my own classroom, and it has been missing in my life as I transitioned to a coaching role and now as PAT President.

So to all of you, the teachers and staff who let me do site visits, to those who speak up, who are doing their best to support others or to keep themselves afloat, who are protecting themselves by not reading any emails after work hours: In case no one told you today, you are awesome and I love you. Have a peaceful and safe break!

In Solidarity,

Angela Bonilla

PAT President