Across the country, school districts of every size are grappling with the question of how to best educate students at this stage of the pandemic. In recent weeks there has been a lot of media coverage and public debate on the issue of opening school buildings for in-person instruction, and the role of teachers’ unions in the process.
I’m always struck by how often reporters, or members of the community, talk about teachers’ unions as if they are completely separate from the teachers themselves. As PAT members, WE ARE THE UNION, and one of the things that defines our union is our commitment to democracy. Ensuring every member has a voice in PAT is one of our fundamental values.
When we have major decisions to make, like what to prioritize at the bargaining table or how to respond to the District’s plan to reopen school buildings, we provide members with the best information we have, and engage our entire membership to determine our collective priorities, through surveys, forums, building meetings, and one-on-one organizing.
Our bargaining team and our union leaders are committed to representing the priorities of all our members, and we rely on member input, as well as the feedback from the elected building reps at all our school sites, to make sure that we are representing you all. Democracy can take time, but it’s the only way we can truly be inclusive, and synthesize the nuance and multiple perspectives that are inherent in any complex issue.
This is also the only way to build unity, which is critical if we want to ensure educators have a real voice in shaping the future of public schools, and address the longstanding needs of our students and the communities we serve.
Across the country, educators have demonstrated that when we’re united, real change is within our reach.
And you have made it clear that what unites PAT members right now is a commitment to protecting the lives of educators, students, and their families.
We know reopening school buildings safely requires, first and foremost, containing the community spread of COVID, as well as proper ventilation and social distancing in our buildings, and a plan for protecting the families of our students. Until school buildings can be opened safely, we can best serve our students by putting our resources and creativity into improving Comprehensive Distance Learning, while adding Limited-In-Person supports to address academic and social-emotional needs which cannot be met through CDL.
By standing together, we can continue to ensure that educators and our school communities are protected.
Now more than ever, we need the input of every PAT member to guide our decision-making. The survey we sent out last Friday on the District’s hybrid plan, is one example. Thank you for taking the time to respond, and for continuing to share your perspective as the conditions of the pandemic continue to evolve. We will look closely at the results, including disaggregating the data, to determine how we will move forward.
Guided by solidarity, and grounded in our commitment to or students and our profession, we truly are a powerful force.
Our PAT Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee and our PAT Racial Equity Committee invite you to participate in a Week of Action to celebrate Black Lives.
Visit our website for curriculum and resources you can use all year.
Please mark your calendar and join us for these fabulous events coming up this week:
- TODAY: Wednesday, Feb 10th - Buy Black to support local Black Business this day and everyday!
- Thursday, Feb 11th 4:00-6:30 pm - Join us for a "PUSHOUT" Watch Party and Student Panel. Movie: 4:00-5:30 pm and Student Panel 5:30-6:30. Register HERE!
- Friday, Feb. 12th 5:00-6:00 pm - Join us for "You Better Recognize: Reviving the Black Nod" watch party and Q&A with award-winning filmmaker Elijah Hasan and produced by S. Renee Mitchell. Register HERE!
Many of you have noticed the tension that has developed between the understandable desire to have children return to school, and the sensible insistence on safe working environments under COVID-19 conditions.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, health experts have advised that individuals avoid the “Three Cs” – Close Contact, Closed Spaces, Crowds. Thankfully, there is a way that some in-person instruction can still take place while meeting health and safety guidelines; ODE calls it LIPI (Limited In-Person Instruction).
According to the Oregon Department of Education, LIPI is when schools operating in the Comprehensive Distance Learning instructional model bring a limited number of students, for limited hours and with specific conditions, on-site.
LIPI is meant to meet academic or social/emotional needs that cannot be met through CDL. In planning for LIPI opportunities, your school should first identify what students need(s) can not be met by CDL, and determine if those needs could be safely addressed with LIPI.
Additionally, per ODE Guidelines:
- LIPI cohort groups are limited to no more than 20 students.
- Students cannot be part of more than two cohorts (including transportation) in any given week.
- Any one staff member (even in multiple roles) cannot interact with more than three cohorts in a given day and five in a week.
- LIPI cannot take the place of any CDL instruction.
You can read the full Guidance for Limited In-Person Instruction During CDL HERE.
Your PAT bargaining team has worked over the last three sessions to negotiate the fine points of LIPI activities in PPS. Key to our conversation:
- LIPI instruction will be provided by educators on a voluntary basis. If the District cannot find a volunteer from the regularly employed PAT membership, PPS will open the positions to PAT substitute educators.
- Volunteers who agree to provide LIPI during teacher-directed time in their regular schedule will be paid at their individual per-diem hourly rate for all lost teacher-directed time, plus for an additional hour per week for time spent planning LIPI sections.
- Educators who volunteer can rescind their volunteer offer if they do not feel safe once they inspect the space provided for LIPI.
As rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine continues, please be aware of your right to use leave time to receive the vaccine. You do not need to use your own leave balances for your vaccine appointment; however, you must follow all regular procedures for requesting time off to ensure proper coverage of your work.
If your vaccine appointment occurs during synchronous time or otherwise requires you to do so, please request a substitute educator during that time. Our substitute educators are vital to the strength of our district and our union. We depend on them and they depend on us-- many of our substitute educators have been very hard hit during this pandemic.
To utilize leave to get a vaccine, submit your absence as you normally would and schedule a substitute educator on Frontline by selecting the leave code Inservice-School. Inside the box in a note to the Administrator you will write: COVID-Vaccine appointment.
If you experience side effects from the vaccine and are unable to report to work, follow the regular protocols for using sick leave. This will be charged against your sick day bank.
Sending good wishes to all of our educators as they get vaccines!
PAT members will elect four PAT Executive Board Directors to begin a two-year term upon taking office July 1, 2021. PAT members should have received a ballot (sent to your PPS email address) on February 8, along with a Voters’ Pamphlet including the candidate statements, video speeches, and their answers to four member-generated questions. Also on the ballot are candidates for PAT delegate positions to the 2021 OEA and NEA Representative Assemblies. Votes must be cast by 5:00 p.m. on February 25. Only PAT members may vote. If you are not a member and would like to vote, please join here, and then contact [email protected].
There have been many questions and some confusion regarding MAP testing. In our efforts to clarify some issues, we asked PPS Chief of Schools, Shawn Bird, to answer some questions. Below are his responses. But we would also like to remind teachers that any time you spend administering MAP testing is considered “administrator-directed time.” It should not come out of your 950 minutes per week of “educator-directed time.”
Which students are to take the test and what is the testing window?
- For 3rd-8th grade educators, the MAP’s testing window is February 1st to February 26th.
How long should students spend taking the test?
- Students participating in MAPs testing should not take longer than one hour for each test (Math and ELA).
What happens if students take longer than the one hour allotted?
- If the student’s parent would like their child to spend longer than an hour on the test, they can access a substitute teacher by informing their principal that they would like their child to have more time to finish the assessment and the school will arrange for the sub to proctor the assessment.
Do students have to take the test?
- Parents may choose to not have their child participate in taking the test. The District has sent parents specific information that states this.
What does a parent need to do if they choose to not have their child take the test?
- If parents choose to not have their child participate they can do this by notifying the child's teacher or principal (there is no opt out form required).
The Instruction and Professional Development (IPD) Committee focuses on issues related to our professional practice. This month, at our Wednesday, February 17th meeting, we invite members to join us for two important topics:
1. Professional Development for 6-12th grade Humanities (Language Arts, Social Sciences, ELD): Humanities Department Administrators Kristina Granby and Tania McKey have reached out to us in an effort to gather educator input about what you would find most useful in professional development.
Please join us on Wednesday, February 17, 4:30 - 5:30 pm to share your thoughts with Kristina Granby, Tania McKey, and Tahrena Wicker. They will have specific questions to get your feedback on and there will also be time to discuss the questions and insight you all bring.
The questions from Humanities Administrators will be shared ahead of time in the agenda which will be sent out to all PAT members who RSVP to attend (link below).
2. Student Assessment in CDL: As teachers, we know our students and their instructional needs. How can we come together to collect and present this data to our central office leadership team and the PPS School Board as a richer, more authentic alternative to MAP test data? We will focus on this topic from 5:30-6:30 pm.
All PAT members are welcome. Please RSVP here to join the IPD committee discussion next week.
As we look toward bargaining with PPS on our PAT/PPS contract, one of PAT's goals in the bargain is to win language that better supports educators of color in PPS.
We want to make sure our proposals in the upcoming bargain include language moving us towards that goal, and to listen to our members of color in determining which concepts to pursue. To that end, we created a survey, which went to all our members who identify as a person of color. We asked those members to rate bargaining concepts on how effective they think they would be in attracting, supporting, and retaining educators of color.
The bargaining concepts on the survey came from our bargaining committee, our racial equity committee members, suggestions from members of color, as well as concepts being considered for coordinated bargaining efforts with other local teachers' unions in Oregon.
The results were enlightening. It is clear that PAT members of color believe that there is a lot we can ask for in our contract to better support educators of color in PPS. The following topics received a rating of “highly effective” in attracting, retaining, and supporting educators of color, by 70% or more of the respondents:
- Stipends for peer support for new educators of color.
- Stipends for any educator who is asked to use bilingualism in their job.
- A loan-forgiveness program for PPS students of color who become PPS educators.
In addition, a number of questions received over 60% of respondents rating the idea as “highly effective.”
- Providing educators with materials in the language of instruction.
- Requiring that PPS develop district-wide professional development on implicit-bias, anti-racism, and culturally responsive practices.
- Creating a stipend or extended pay for educators who run student-affinity groups during lunch or after school.
- Strengthening current contract language that addresses the stabilization of schools with high staff turnover.
As we move closer to finally getting into the next round of bargaining, we will do all we can, with the power of the whole PAT membership, to move these issues into the contract.
We're proud to announce a new PAT-sponsored scholarship opportunity for future educators of color! One scholarship for $6,000 will be awarded to a graduating PPS senior, who identifies as a person of color, and who plans on becoming a certified educator. Another $6,000 scholarship will be open for any PPS employee of color, who is not yet a certified educator. Look for further details on how to apply soon!
The PAT Racial Equity Committee is overseeing this new opportunity for our union to support aspiring educators of color.
Unpaid Leaves - March 1 Application Deadline
PAT/PPS Contract, Article 17.4.1, provides:
"Requests for a full year unpaid Personal, Exchange, or Career Development leave of absence (whether part-time or full-time) for the next school year must be submitted to Human Resources prior to March 1 or the leave will not be approved, except in extenuating circumstances where such leave requests will not be unreasonably denied."
Information regarding these unpaid leaves can be found on the PPS website.
Notice of Retirement/Resignation
An educator who gives notice of retirement or resignation (excluding resignation in lieu of termination, non-renewal, or non-extension) no later than February 15 shall be entitled to a notice stipend of $700. The payment will be received in the educator’s final paycheck. See PAT/PPS contract Article 18.2.