On Friday, Governor Brown came to Sitton Elementary to announce that, ready or not, she is ordering school buildings to open for in-person instruction, giving educators and district leaders only ten working days to reopen buildings in the state’s largest school district. It goes without saying, that made an already complicated situation monumentally more difficult to navigate.
We have been working for months to come to agreement on plans for opening our schools to in-person opportunities for our students, and we continue to insist that they are centered around our core priorities of safety, stability, and equity for our students.
As we navigate another mandate in this already chaotic year, we are holding tight to what we know we need for a safe and equitable spring:
- Remote options for students, families, and educators who need it.
- A comprehensive safety program (including PPE, ventilation, testing and tracing, social distancing, and building-level joint safety committees empowered to close out-of-compliance classrooms).
- Equitable instruction, in-person and online, centered on what students need.
- Enough time to prepare our classrooms and plan our lessons.
A Full Court Press at the Bargaining Table
The Governor and the school district have made it clear that we are moving forward with hybrid learning this spring, ready or not. Your PAT Bargaining Team has been working tirelessly in the last week, as they have been all year, to steer the plans for the rest of this year in the best possible direction, toward a safe and equitable plan.
This week, including today, our team is working in small groups with members of the PPS team, toward the goal of coming to agreement on all our outstanding issues. We will have an update at tonight’s RA for your building reps, and plan to hold an All-Member Bargaining Update webinar on Friday evening-- look for a link tomorrow to register.
The PAT Path Forward
We know we can not return to “normal” this spring. That is why over the last two weeks, we asked PAT members at every school to engage in conversations about spring instruction. These happened after the workday, on a volunteer basis, facilitated by PAT member leaders at each site.
We asked educators to talk about 4 questions:
- What is working in CDL that should not be disrupted?
- What are your students' greatest needs that are not being met in CDL?
- What would meet those needs?
- What is your vision for how spring instruction could be designed to safely meet those needs?
PAT leaders held over 83 building conversations in 79 schools, involving over 1,500 members. Facilitators recorded notes on commonalities. We also created an individual feedback form to gather quantitative data, which produced almost 1,400 responses.
We heard from the majority of our K-5, K-8, Middle, and High Schools, and analyzed the data to look for differences. But what we found was a huge amount of agreement across grade levels.
Overwhelmingly, at every grade level, educators identified the same need that parents identified in the recent PPS survey— students need opportunities for social interaction.
Our educators submitted so many creative suggestions about how we can provide this: small social groups, clubs, affinity groups, art, hands-on educational activities and extensions. There was much consensus that outdoor activities-- which could include music, dance, gardening, and movement-- could meet students’ needs for socialization without sacrificing safety.
We also found striking similarities across all grade levels PK-12 in our vision for the best path forward this spring. Educators want robust CDL options maintained for core subjects into spring, with in-person opportunities that focus on the social/emotional health of students, peer interaction, physical movement, and student engagement.
Educators also noted many things that are going well in CDL. Of course, remote learning is the safest way to prevent transmission of COVID-19. A year into distance learning, educators, students, and families have developed routines and structure, and many educators have found ways to provide small-group instruction that targets students' needs and interests.
We know that many students and families, for a variety of good reasons, have chosen to remain in CDL. These are frequently our most vulnerable students. We must prioritize stability for students who choose to continue learning remotely, and not disrupt what’s currently working.
Kids Deserve More Than “Back to Normal”
No matter what happens this spring, we know what we believe in. This pandemic continues to demonstrate what a critical institution public schools are for our communities, and just how central schools are to the social and emotional well-being of our students.
The problems that are front page news today are not new. We’ve been talking about these issues for decades. We know that our goal is not to get back to “normal” this spring, or in the fall, because Oregon public schools haven’t been meeting our students’ needs for decades.
It would be a tragically missed opportunity if, in the disruption caused by the pandemic, we fail to utilize this pause in what is “normal” to refocus on what we know is most important-- nurturing our children, honoring who are and all they bring, and supporting them in achieving what they believe in and strive for.
The COVID crisis demonstrated that there IS money available to do all sorts of things that were unimaginable a year ago. It’s time to muster the political will to put our students at the top of list, and truly create the schools our students deserve.
OEA is still organizing a “Lobby Day” this year- they will be hosting a week of virtual town halls between our members and legislative leaders. The new concept is called Virtual Advocacy Week. Register here!
Each evening from March 29 – April 2, OEA will host a Zoom session at 5:30 PM. The town hall style meeting will last for 45 minutes. Each night will have a specified discussion topic, and as they confirm themes and legislative guests, they will make those announcements. If registration exceeds capacity on any given night, they will add a second session at 7:00 PM.
We encourage all members to register. OEA will reach out to all registrants to select their preferred night of attendance as we get closer to the event. All those who register by March 12th will receive a cool swag box with some fun lobbying props.
This week, building administrators received staffing allocations for the 2021-2022 school year. We are told that there will not be an overall reduction in staffing next year-- this is great news. However, as is true every year, changes in programming and staffing may cause reductions of positions in some buildings (resulting in “unassignments”) and available vacant positions in others.
An “unassignment” does not mean the educator loses a job at PPS; it means they will be transferred to a different position. Educators unassigned from their current position should apply for vacant positions for which they are licensed. Unassigned educators are eligible to apply for positions during the Internal transfer process. See: FAQ: Unassignment & Transfer.
Educators who are not unassigned but seek to transfer to a different site may apply for posted vacancies. Contract educators and 3rd year probationary educators may apply in the Internal phase (along with any unassigned educator). See: FAQ: Applying & Interviewing for Positions.
1st and 2nd year probationary educators, temporary educators, and substitute educators may apply in the External phase, along with outside applicants. All unassigned educators in a subject area must be assigned before PPS may consider any External phase applicants. See: Internal v. External Phase – When Can I Apply?
In all cases, transfers will occur according to the process outlined in Article 18 of the PAT/PPS contract.
Here is the timeline:
- March 18 & 19, 4:30-6:00 p.m. – PPS Info Meetings for Unassigned Educators
- March 29 - April 2 - Internal Phase Vacancies Posted
- April 5 – 7 - Interviews
- Mid-April - Unassigned Educators Notified of Assignments
- April 20 - External Phase Opens
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 7th, 2021 (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.
May is Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and our PAT Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee and our PAT Racial Equity Committee are once again teaming up to bring events and resources into our classrooms and our community.
In February, we had hundreds of members participate in our Black Lives Matter Week of Action, including coming by PAT to pledge to participate and pick up a shirt. We have a small number of BLM shirts left, in Unisex sizes Large, XL, and XXL, and would love to get them to members. If you are still interested in getting a shirt in one of these 3 available sizes, please fill out this form. These are first come, first serve! Thank you for showing up for Black Lives!
National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education and provides numerous benefits to teachers, students, and schools. It was designed to develop, retain, and recognize accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide.
Under a new grant, there are funds allocated specifically to support BIPOC and early career educators in Oregon in obtaining their certification.
This Friday, March 12 at 3:00 PM, come to Woodmere Elementary (7900 SE Duke St, Portland, OR 97206), and rally with SEIU nutrition services and custodians in demanding that the district prioritize the health and safety of their staff. See their flyer for more information.
This Saturday, March 13 at 3:00 PM, join us at BESC (501 N Dixon St, Portland, OR 97227) to support MXM BLOC making a call to action that centers BIPOC educators, students, and communities for a safe return to school. Details in the flyer here.
March 10, 4:30-6:30 PM: PAT Rep Assembly
March 10, 5:00–6:15 PM: LERC Racial Equity and Union Solidarity Series -- Register here.
March 18 & 19, 4:30-6:00 PM:PPS Informational Meeting for Unassigned Educators (details to follow)
Upcoming Committees Meeting, RSVP Here
- Advocacy Committee, March 17, 4:30-6:30 PM
- IPD Committee, March 17, 4:30-6:30 PM
- Substitute Committee, March 17, 4:30-6:30 PM
- Bargaining Committee, March 31, 4:30-6:30 PM
- Racial Equity Committee, March 31, 4:30-6:30 PM
- Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee, March 31, 4:30-6:30 PM
- Membership Committee, April 1, 4:00-5:30 PM
- Legislative Committee, April 1, 5:00-7:00 PM
Ongoing Series: ODE Promising Practices Idea Exchange
- Wednesday, March 17, 4:00-5:00 PM: Engaging and Supporting Families
- Wednesday, March 31, 4:00-5:00 PM: Supporting Students who are Emerging Bilingual and Students Experiencing Disability
- Monday, March 22, 4:00-5:00 PM: Rethinking Grading with Agency and Equity Traditional grading practices often go unexamined despite their potential for harm. This webinar is designed to critically examine assumptions about grading, look at current grading practices, and imagine alternatives to the status quo. Register here.
- Monday, April 12, 4:00-5:00 PM: Phenomena-Centered Science in your Classroom Centering your K-12 science instruction around phenomena can build student engagement and understanding. We’ll explore key aspects of science instruction, share NGSS-aligned resources for the new school year, and consider strategies (like Driving Question Boards) that support science in your K-12 (possibly virtual) classrooms. Register here.
- Friday, April 12, 4:00-5:00 PM: Building Slides for Accessibility: Why and How Explore best practices for digital-visual accessibility. The majority of our time will be spent learning about practical tools and strategies you can implement immediately and efficiently into your lessons. The tool we will focus on for this presentation is Google Slides, but the principals can be applied widely to any digital content. Register here.