President's Message: Stronger Than We Started

Dear Educators,

These are unprecedented times. You are returning to work this week to begin a school year like none other, under conditions we never would have chosen. With so little clarity around what is to come, educators and stepping back into the year ready to model the the compassion and creativity required of all of us right now.

For almost everyone, teaching in COVID times has been the most challenging moment in our professional lives. Last spring, we witnessed the profound inequities of online learning firsthand. We saw what worked, and we saw many things that didn’t. We know that in order to find real solutions for our students, educator expertise and first-hand experience should be guiding District decision-making.

In all the upheaval, there is so much at stake and so much possibility when we consider the future of our public schools. For years we have been talking about the need for small class sizes; for better air-quality and sanitation in our buildings; for greater focus on social-emotional supports and personal connection, and less on data-production and standardized tests. Right now, the whole world is recognizing how crucial these issues are, and that the value of public education is far greater than what can be delivered through a screen. As we move through this crisis and into the whatever comes next, we have the opportunity to carry these truths forward.

Rather than simply survive this pandemic, we want to ensure our schools and communities come out the other side stronger. To do that, we are going to need hold tight to our values and demand the things that our community has always deserved: for fully-funded schools that give each child the opportunities and attention they need; for Black Lives to Matter in every classroom, every neighborhood, and every policy that governs us; for every member of our community to have access to housing, healthcare, and hope for the future. We must remember that these are reasonable and achievable demands.

These are stressful times, so let’s also remember the power we have as to lift one another up and support each other. Thank you for all that you’re prepared to do this fall to support your students and colleagues, and please make sure to take equally good care of yourself and your loved ones.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel
PAT President

Meet Your Current PAT Leaders

PAT is a democratic union, and we have many elected leaders who share the responsibility for guiding our work as an association. We are fortunate to have such a talented and collaborative team of leaders. Learn more here.

PAT Officers

  • President: Elizabeth Thiel, English teacher, Madison High School
  • Vice President: Gwen Sullivan, Library Media Specialist, Chapman Elementary School
  • Treasurer: Diana Collins, School Climate Specialist, Gray Middle School
  • Secretary: Alisha Chavez, Special Education Teacher, Atkinson Elementary School

Executive Board Directors-at-Large

  • Rachel Hanes, 2nd Grade teacher, Glencoe ES, Liaison to Zone 1
  • Vincent Chirimwami, Special Education teacher, Faubion K-8, Liaison to Zone 2
  • Greg Burrill, Substitute Teacher, Liaison to Zone 3
  • Jacque Dixon, Language Arts Teacher, DART, Liaison to Zone 4
  • Adolfo Garza, Kindergarten, Woodlawn ES, Liaison to Zone 5
  • Erica Schneider, 2nd Grade teacher, Llewellyn K-5, Liaison to Zone 7
  • Tina Lamanna, 2nd Grade teacher, Markham K-5, Liaison to Zone 8
  • Mike Bauer, Social Studies teacher, Cleveland HS, Liaison to Zone 9

OEA Board Directors

  • Russ Peterson, Social Studies teacher, Grant High School
  • Gwen Sullivan, Library Media Specialist, Chapman ES

Thank You to PAT's Outgoing Leaders

As a member-led union, PAT’s leadership shift every year, as new leaders are elected to step into new roles. Typically, at our End-of-Year Celebration, we thank our PAT leaders who are moving on. We didn’t get to celebrate last June, but we are still deeply grateful to the following leaders who gave their time and energy to make our union stronger, and are moving on to new roles:

Suzanne Cohen—After serving 2 terms as PAT President, Suzanne is now teaching Health at Roosevelt High School. She continues to serve on behalf of PAT as a Trustee on the Health and Welfare Trust.

Al Rabchuk—Our PAT Treasurer and long-time Advocacy Committee chair (as well as former OEA Board director, and most anything else that needed doing) has retired and plans to go fishing.

Madeleine Allen—Madeleine served as a Director-at-Large on the PAT Executive Board, as well as our Legislative Committee Chair, and as a member of the PAT PAC Board. She has accepted the position of Vice-Principal at George Middle School.

Nichole Watson—Nichole served as an OEA Board Director, and as the co-chair of our Racial Equity committee and our Social Justice Committee. She is now the Principal at Prescott Elementary School in the Parkrose School District.

Huck Wilken—Huck completed his term as Director-at-Large on the PAT Executive Board, and is taking leave this year to pursue peer mediation with OEA.

RaeAnn Thompson—RaeAnn completed her term as Director-at-Large on the PAT Executive Board, and continues to teach Health and Jefferson High School.

Chelyn Joseph—Chelyn has been a core member of our Bargaining Team since 2012. She will be on a leave-of-absence from PPS this year, but will continue to consult the Bargaining Team to the extent she is able.

Deepest thanks to these for your commitment and service to PAT, and congratulations on your transitions!

Building Access Prior to the Start of the School Year

Our contract guarantees members access to the worksite at least one week prior to the start of the school year. Unfortunately, many administrators refused to let educators into their classrooms or offices, so PAT is filing an “Association Grievance” on behalf of PAT members who were denied access between August 20th and August 27th.

If you were denied access to your building by your administration (via email or text or phone call)  during this period, we need your help documenting the extra work this created for you!  First, make sure you a copy of the email/text where you were denied access. Second, please keep a record of the time you have to spend after work this week doing things that you would have done last week if you had been able to get into your building. 

We will send out a google form the week of September 3rd where you can share your records. We will use that information to formulate our remedy when we file the association grievance. 

Take Action: No Layoffs at the Library!

Recently, Multnomah County announced plans to lay off a large number of library workers. It is important to note that there is NOT a funding shortfall—the Multnomah County Library is funded by a Library Distract Property tax, so they are maintaining stable funding even as the economy tanks.

Library workers are represented by AFSCME 88, and they are asking for our support. I sent the Multnomah Country Commissioners this letter, and encourage you all to join me in writing to the writing the commissioners and asking them to REVERSE THE LAYOFFS.

Below are some talking points you could include in your letter:

  • These layoffs are not driven by a lack of funds or a budget reduction.
  • There is huge  need for library services in a community that is still grappling with this pandemic.
  • The county should be partnering with school districts, and community organizations, particularly in the BIPOC community,  to find creative ways to carry out the library’s mission even if buildings are closed to the public.
  • Layoffs will exacerbate the negative economic impact on our community and endanger working families.

Below is the contact information for the Multnomah County Commissioners:

  • Deborah Kafoury, County Chair, 503-988-3308 (phone), 503-988-3093 (fax), [email protected]
  • Sharon Meieran, District 1, 503-988-5220 (phone), 503-988-5440 (fax), [email protected]
  • Susheela Jayapal, District 2, 503-988-5219 (phone), 503-988-5440 (fax), [email protected]
  • Jessica Vega Pederson, District 3, 503- 988-5217 (phone), 503-988-5262 (fax), [email protected]
  • Lori Stegmann, District 4, 503-988-5213 (phone), 503-988-5262 (fax), [email protected]

Families Marching for Black Lives: Sunday August 30th, 12:30PM

Join us for family-friendly marches for Black lives this Sunday, starting at 12:30 at the Salmon Street Fountain. For more information see Families Marching for Black Lives event page.

Please wear a mask and respect social distancing. 

Many of you have asked about BLM PAT shirts. Our Racial Equity & Social Justice Committees will be at this event with PAT BLM shirts for members and sign-making materials. 

If you would like to volunteer to help with the PAT table at one of these events in the future, please e-mail Jacque Dixon and Alisha Chavez  [email protected] [email protected].

We would love to see PAT educators show up and support the communities that we are serving. Hope to see you there!

Join a PAT Committee!

PAT is known around the state and country for being a strong and powerful union.  Part of what makes this possible is the strength of our committees within the union.  Our committees give members a way to be involved based on their own interests.  Most of our committees are open to all members. Learn more about our committees and let us know you want to get involved.   Your voice will make a difference. 

(Note that committees with a “**” are not open committees)

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