President's Message: Stabilize Our Schools by Supporting Educators

One mark of a successful school is stability. When faculty and staff in a school feel supported and valued, they stick around, often for decades. That stability allows a school to create a positive climate, clear expectations, and unique traditions. Students, staff, and families feel like they belong. 

Because COVID-19 has destabilized so many facets of life, it’s crucial that District leaders concentrate on creating stability as they begin planning for next year. We must start by retaining the staff we have, and attracting new educators into our District. 

All year, we have been sounding the alarm because so many educators are reaching a breaking point and they are seriously questioning whether they can continue with the way things are. We are not alone-- OEA recently published this report on the education workload crisis across the state. 

This fall, as part of our campaign for the Time to Get It Right, we asked the District to address the crushing workload and impossible demands of this school year. We pushed for adjustments that would give educators the support we need to make it through this school year, and provide more time to meet the needs of students. 

While we were unable to reach a formal agreement with the District before winter break, as a result of our campaign, the District did end up creating a day for school climate work and planning on January 31st, delaying evaluations for educators who are not probationary, and adding more flex-time in our high schools. These adjustments are a step in the right direction.

Through our campaign, PAT emerged as a leading voice in the national conversation about the crisis conditions educators are facing, and the fact that we are on the brink of a disastrous shortage of educators thanks to skyrocketing workloads and continued demoralization. 

The workload crisis and worker shortage we are facing in our schools is not new, but it has been amplified by the pandemic. For decades educators have been bridging a widening gap between what our students need, and the resources available. The gap is especially wide for our students with IEPs and our English Language Learners. 

As professional educators, we never want to see our students go without the support and resources they need. So, we frequently spend evenings and weekends making up for what is not provided. We fundraise for school supplies that should be provided freely, we create curriculum from scratch that should already be available, and we stand in for unfunded mental and behavioral health supports. We are exhausted from having to beg and plead to get the basics of what we NEED to do our jobs, and then having to buy or make it ourselves anyway.

When this gap gets too wide for us to bridge, we lose dedicated and beloved educators. One of the most common reasons I hear of teachers leaving the profession is the sustained moral injury of seeing our students going without what they need, no matter how many extra hours we work each week.

Rather than hiding the gaps and covering up the cracks in the system, we need our community to see them, so that we work together to fix them.

We need a school system that is DESIGNED to meet students’ needs, and that means providing educators with the time it takes to meet those needs.

  • Students deserve learning activities that fit their unique learning profile; Educators need time every week to adjust lessons and create meaningful learning activities for diverse learners.
  • Students learn best when their caregivers and their teachers are working together; Educators need time to communicate regularly with families.
  • Students with identified needs deserve consistency and coordinated support; Educators need time to collaborate with SpEd, ELL, Social Workers, and content teams.
  • Students deserve schools that are safe, positive learning environments; Educators need time to work together to establish common expectations, supports, and consistent responses to behavior issues.
  • Students learn best when they have a positive and personal relationship with their teacher; We need smaller class sizes so that educators can know and connect with each student.

When educators are NOT given the time and support to meet our students’ needs, it goes without saying that those needs will not be met consistently.

Above all, for our school system to function, we need diverse, talented educators and school staff to CHOOSE to work in our schools, year after year after year. As our school district leaders plan for next year, we call on them to prioritize making PPS that kind of workplace. 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

PAT Elections- Ballots Go Out on February 7th

PAT elections will be held this month, for terms that begin July 1, 2022.

On February 7th, an email will be sent to PAT members’ PPS email accounts, which will include a link to their ballot, candidate statements, photos, and videos of candidate speeches.

The following are the candidates for the major offices in this election:


  • Angela Bonilla


  • Jacque Dixon
  • Gwen Sullivan


  • Emily Markewitz


  • Tina Lamanna

Executive Board (Vote for 5):

  • Aurelian Boudreaux
  • Greg Burrill
  • Vincent Chirimwami
  • Amanda-Jane Elliott
  • Emily Golden-Fields
  • Joanne Shepard

The ballot will also include candidates for OEA RA Delegate positions and for NEA RA Delegate positions.

Please make sure to vote by Thursday, February 24, 2022, by 5:00 PM, outside of your work hours.

If you do not receive a ballot on February 7th (sent to your PPS email address), or if you are not a member and would like to join so that you may vote, please contact [email protected].

Need a Contract Exception at Your Site? Learn More Here!

What is a Contract Exception: A Contract Exception is a process that allows a worksite to apply for an exception to the terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). While creating exceptions to our contract language is not encouraged, we recognize that specific worksites may have a specific need for a given year. This process allows for that need to be considered. Contract Exceptions must be approved by the PAT Advocacy Committee and the District prior to implementation. A contract exception is valid only for the school year for which it was approved. 

Who decides if my school should submit an exception for approval: Contract Exceptions are member driven, so should be initiated by educators. 

Deadline: The deadline this year is Friday, May 13th, 2022 (for Contract Exceptions for next academic year). Contract Exceptions are welcomed prior to this date. When Contract Exceptions are received before the deadline, it provides more time for documents to be reviewed and questions to be answered. At times, the Advocacy Committee needs additional information prior to making a decision. Find the Contract Exception form here

If referencing a previous year’s form, double check that you have the correct article number. Here is the current contract.

Some key things to remember:

  • The article number needs to be specific (eg 7.7.1) to the requested exception.
  • Double check your math.
  • You MUST include copies of schedules or calendars that reflect the current and proposed changes. Identify changes to teacher hours, student hours, planning time, etc. 
  • Consider and address the impact on Specialists vs. Gen Ed teachers.
  • Required: What is the option for members who oppose the exception?
  • Review the FAQ’s here.

Role of the Committee when reviewing:

  • Protect member rights
  • Support member needs
  • Ensure the integrity of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) 
  • Do no harm to the bargaining process and/or open grievances

Need Help? Come to Advocacy Cadre on April 4th and/or April 25th at 5pm 

If you are reading this, please click this link to receive a small gift from your PAT Membership Committee, and to be entered in a raffle to win a gift card (1 in 30 chance of winning)!

Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action (BLMWOA) February 7th-11th

Are you planning a special event in your classroom or school for Black History Month? Please reach out to Alisha Chavez-Downing or Julie Whitaker so we can highlight your efforts in our next communication! 

PAT’S Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action (BLMWOA) has been pushed to February 7-11 to allow our committee more time for more planning. We will update everyone as soon as possible! In the meantime, we encourage everyone to Pledge to Participate. Please visit for inspirational resources to support your pledge to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. Here are a few resources specific to Black Joy: 

PAT Stands with Portland City Workers

Unless an agreement is reached, over 1,200 Portland city workers represented by AFSCME and the District Council of Trade Unions will be hitting the picket lines starting at 9am on February 10th. Rob Marineau, President of the DCTU got to the heart of why these workers are going on strike when he told reporters that, "The city’s proposal drastically undervalues the work city employees are doing, providing essential services, to keep our communities healthy and safe." 

Show solidarity by joining a picket line at lunch or after school (and wearing your PAT blue) and by letting City Management & Council hear your voice for a fair contract now! And please consider giving even a small amount to their Go Fund Me account to show the city council that the city workers are supported by our community. Check the AFSCM website for picket locations and updates.

Upcoming Events

PAT Committee Meetings- Join the committee mailing list to receive a Zoom Link.

  • February 2nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice/Community Outreach Committee Meeting
  • February 2nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee Meeting

**All PAT committee meetings will be held virtually on Zoom for the time being

  • February 16th, 4:30-6:30 PM: PAT Rep Assembly

Upcoming OEA Training and Events:

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