President's Message, April 28, 2021

April has been another emotional month for educators. We started by preparing classroom spaces and material for this new phase in pandemic teaching. And once again, educators have demonstrated immeasurable creativity and care to meet the needs of both our students entering our physical classrooms, and those who continue to learn remotely.

It has filled my heart to see the joy of PAT members finally getting to meet students in-person. And despite the stress of once again redesigning our practice for hybrid learning, many educators are finding satisfaction in finally having class sizes small enough to interact with each and every student in the room. It is a reminder of what we have always known—that individual attention makes an enormous difference for our students, and that we need to continue working toward our vision of a public school system where students get their needs met by design.

I am also thrilled to report that this week our SEIU 503 colleagues—school custodians and nutrition service workers—finally came to a tentative agreement on their contract, including receiving the hazard pay and additional staffing that they have been asking for. SEIU leaders send their gratitude to PAT and all the PPS unions for coming together in solidarity to support our colleagues’ demands for respect and safety. 

Unfortunately, over the course of the month, COVID cases in Oregon have been steadily rising. Since spring break, Multnomah country has gone from “moderate” to “extremely high” risk, and case counts have doubled. 

Many people have been asking if the District will suspend hybrid learning and move exclusively to CDL if cases continue to rise. According to Governor Brown’s executive order, school districts MUST continue to offer in-person instruction at all schools unless case counts surpass 350 cases per 100 thousand residents over a 2-week period. As of Monday, April 26, Multnomah county was at 221 cases.  

In this environment, it is crucial that we hold the District accountable for following all of our safety agreements, and that we follow them ourselves. Please be vigilant in modeling all safety protocols and reinforcing them with your students, including wearing masks correctly, and maintaining physical distance. Please also make sure to use the safety checklist daily.

As part of her push to reopen in-person instruction, the Governor has tied state funding to being open for hybrid or full in-person instruction this spring. As long as COVID is spreading in the community, we know there will inevitably be positive cases in our schools. That is why our safety language is so critical-- it is designed to prevent the spread of COVID within our classrooms and schools. 

PAT is checking in with reps from every school with a positive case to make sure protocols continue to be followed when there is a positive case at school. So far, we have not heard of any COVID cases where transmission occurred at school, but we continue to monitor the situation closely.

We also continue to advocate for transparency in reporting positive cases in schools. At the April 14 school board meeting, PPS Chief of Systems Performance, Dr. Russell Brown reported that the District was in the process of creating a dashboard to share such information with the public. We have been following up, and were last told that the dashboard was expected to launch this week.

We have also been advocating to get vaccine sites set up at schools, starting with high schools in our most impacted communities. Now that our students 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, we have an opportunity--and a moral imperative--to close the vaccine-access gap as quickly as possible, and protect our students and their families. Over the past several weeks, I have met with numerous state and county officials and agencies, as well as PPS leaders, to advocate for the urgency of getting these vaccine sites set up quickly, and we will continue to press the Governor’s office and area lawmakers.

I continue to be inspired by everything that you do to support our students, and what we’ve been able to do together as a union.

In Solidarity, 

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

Correction: Evaluations Due by May 28th

Last Advocate, we reminded everyone that evaluations for contract educators were due in HR by May 1st. We are sorry to say that we were wrong.

In the midst of all the negotiations this year, PPS asked us if we would agree to extend the contract teacher evaluation deadline to May 28th. The reason PPS requested the change was that many principals were having a difficult time finding ways to meet the timelines under CDL conditions, and that everyone would find that the extension would make the process less stressful. At that time, in early March, we said “yes” to the request. 

When we said “yes,” we stated that our one “condition is that for the remainder of the year the District continue to use the CDL eval tool.” The District agreed.

This year, the contract educator evaluations are due on May 28th. All educators will be evaluated using the CDL evaluation tool, even though we have moved to Hybrid education.

Understanding How External Job Postings Work

With the exception of Art and Elementary, positions in all other content areas have been opened up to external applicants as of Monday, April 26th. If you have not seen any vacancies posted in your subject area, that means there aren’t available positions at this time. 

Unlike the internal phase, there is not a designated week during which all vacancies are posted at once, everyone applies, and are then interviewed all during the same time period. Instead, it is done on a “rolling” basis, as vacancies are posted. According to the PAT contract, a vacancy is required to be posted for at least 5 days. But, vacancies may be posted at different times, as they become known. You can keep checking the list of vacancies to see what comes up. 

The five-day posting requirement applies only to vacancies posted by July 1st. After that, a vacancy must only remain posted for three days. Please also note that new vacancies in current, ongoing positions which become known within twenty-one calendar days prior to the first workday of the standard work year are not required to be posted. HOWEVER, if it is a newly created position, they must be posted for at least 3 days.

See Article 18.3 – Posting Procedures in the PAT contract. Also, review the 2021 FAQ #2 - Applying and Interviewing for Positions.

Donate to the Sick Leave Bank

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

Members may donate up to 40 hours of sick leave annually. Employees who have submitted notice of resignation are exempted from this maximum limit, and may contribute as many hours as they would like. 

This year, it is easier than ever to donate hours: 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.

The PAT Sick Leave Bank (see PAT/PPS contract Article provides aid for colleagues who have exhausted their accumulated leave balances but are unable to work due to extended or recurring personal illness. With the help of the Sick Leave Bank, they are able to avoid the additional hardships of lost salary and lost insurance coverage during their illness. 

The Sick Leave Bank is funded completely by voluntary contributions of sick leave days from PAT educators. Thank you for considering making a donation today!

May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Month-- Mark your Calendar!

Please join us at 4:00 PM on Monday, May 3 for our PAT AAPI Month Virtual Kick-Off and Curriculum Exchange. Please register here. You will be able to find all the resources for PAT AAPI Month on our website.

Your PAT AAPI Month planning committee has been hard at work. We are excited to share lessons, resources, and events for AAPI Month. There will be a variety of ways to get involved-- from visiting a local AAPI-owned business in the community, to teaching a lesson we created for you, to checking out a new podcast that centers AAPI folx. Once members complete "three in a row" on this Choice Board, you can enter a raffle to win a rad prize such as a $25 gift certificate to a local AAPI owned juicery or restaurant.

We broke up the month of May into 4 different themes. Here's a peek at each week's theme:

  • Week 1: Week of Action 
  • Week 2: Asian American History
  • Week 3: Centering Pacific Islanders
  • Week 4: AAPI Joy 

Please note: this is NOT the month to teach about Asian history, culture, or traditions. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a long and rich history in the United States. We need to teach about those histories and experiences to expand ideas of who is an American.

Asian and Pacific Islander Educators: Affinity Space

You are invited to this weekly PAT AAPI Affinity Group- Register here

When: Every Friday at 3:30 pm during the month of May

Hosted by: Sarah Lee and Tiffany Koyama Lane (3rd Grade @ Sunnyside Environmental School)

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An Epic OEA RA: Thank You, PAT Delegates!

The OEA RA was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. Thank you to all the delegates who volunteered numerous hours attending the many events and meetings that happened over several weeks, and with the RA finishing after midnight on Saturday night. 

The delegates voted on numerous business items, bylaws changes, legislative objectives, and resolutions, all of which govern the work of our state-wide union. Highlights of the business that occurred are forthcoming. 

One important note is we elected new OEA officers: President, Reed Scott-Schwalbach; Vice President, Enrique Farrera; and ESP Director, Samantha Piers-VanderPloeg. The voting for a new NEA Director follows the NEA rules and ballots are being mailed to delegates. Our own Adolfo Garza Cano is one of the candidates for this position. We will find out the results for this race later in May. Congratulations to our new OEA officers!

Upcoming Events

Please see registration links in the event titles

  • Oregon Troublemakers School: May 14 through May 16
    Sign-up today for the first Oregon Labor Notes Troublemakers School to sharpen your organizing skills and to connect with fellow union members from across the state. The school will be held virtually and will run from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM PDT on Friday, May 14, and from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM PDT on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16.
  • Teach Climate Justice Social: Environmental Justice on the Willamette, Part 2: Thursday, April 29th, 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
    Please join the Portland Public Schools Climate Justice Committee, the Braided River Campaign, and the Portland Association of Teachers for our April 29th Teach Climate Justice social, Environmental Justice on the Willamette, Part 2: Stories from the Past, Visions of the Future.

    The workshop will introduce participants to portraits and stories of displaced communities along the Willamette River, part of the Braided River Campaign’s efforts to link the histories of displaced communities with a current vision for a green, working waterfront. There will be time for teachers to discuss how the portrait and story resources created by the BRC can be used in our classrooms, and how partnerships with community organizations like the BRC can help connect our students to the history and future of the Willamette.

  • SAVE THE DATE: "'We Are Not Drowning! We Are Fighting!' Teaching About Climate Change, Island Solidarity, and Indigenous Rights:" Thursday May 20th, 4:30 PM
    Roosevelt teacher and Rethinking Schools editor Moé Yonamine will lead a participatory online Teach Climate Justice workshop: "'We Are Not Drowning! We Are Fighting!' Teaching About Climate Change, Island Solidarity, and Indigenous Rights." Details to come. 

  • Asian and Pacific Islander Educators: Affinity Space
    Every Friday at 3:30 PM during the month of May.
  • PAT AAPI Month Virtual Kick-Off and Curriculum Exchange, Monday, May 3, 4:00 PM

Upcoming OEA Workshops

  • Online Licensure Workshops, May 20 and June 3
  • Demystifying Special Education Part 1: IEP Process & Your Role, April 29, 4:30-5:30 PM
    Learn the basics of serving students with individualized education plans (IEPs), the IEP process, and your role & responsibilities in educating children with special needs. Learn a general timeline of the year, how to read an IEP, how students are found eligible for services, and answers to other questions you might have. This session will also provide many tips, tricks, and tools of educating a student with a disability in your classroom.
  • Demystifying Special Education Part 2: Looking Beyond the Label, May 13, 4:30-5:30 PM
    Learn more about what you might encounter when working with students identified under special education eligibility categories. For example: What does it mean if a student has a communication disorder and how do you teach them? When teaching children impacted with different disabilities, how do you know what each child needs in order to access your teaching? You’ll also learn what many of the Special Education acronyms mean. In addition, this session will provide many tips, tricks, and tools of educating a student with a disability in your classroom.
  • OEA Summer Conference 2021, July 19-23
    Registration for the OEA Summer Conference 2021: Reflect and Repower, will begin next Monday, May 3rd. This will be a virtual event hosted in the OEA Events App, with over 50 courses offerings. A registration link, a detailed agenda, and full course descriptions will be available next week.

Upcoming PAT Committee Meetings

  • May 6, Membership Committee, 4:00-6:00 PM
  • May 6, Legislative Committee, 5:00-7:00 PM
  • May 6, PAT PAC Board, 5:00-7:00 PM
  • May 19PAT Rep Assembly, 4:30-6:30 PM
  • May 26, Advocacy Committee, 4:30-6:30 PM
  • May 26, Instructional Professional Development Committee, 4:30-6:30 PM
  • May 26, Substitute Committee, 4:30-6:30 PM

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