President’s Message: Our Community Stands with Us for Small Class Sizes

Educators have been outspoken about the fact that our students' needs this year are immense, and dramatically outsize the supports available at our schools. That is why it is unthinkable that PPS could argue that our schools are overstaffed this year, and move to cut teaching positions and raise class sizes.

The last few weeks, I have written plenty about these cuts, the resulting class sizes, and the fact that PPS has the funding to make next year dramatically BETTER for our students, instead of packing more students into fewer classrooms, with less time and attention from their teacher.  

(In case you missed anything, you can read my message from the last Advocate, and my remarks to the PPS School Board on February 22nd and March 1st.)  

When we first heard about these cuts, PPS said the cuts were necessary because of a projected 8% enrollment decline, which they said would result in a similar loss of funding. Since that time, we’ve documented that PPS is actually getting slightly more funding overall, and significantly MORE funding per student next year

Now we are hearing some of our school board members say that the reason for the cuts is because, in their opinion, class-size does not matter.

Anyone who has spent time in a classroom knows that class size makes an enormous difference-- to students’ academic learning, to their social-emotional wellness, and to their sense of belonging and community. 

And it is not just educators who think so. Families and community members have been overwhelmingly supportive as well, demanding PPS put our resources where they count-- in the classroom.

Our community has given PPS a mandate to lower class sizes by consistently approving the Portland Teacher Levy, which raises about $100 million a year for PPS, enough to fund at least 825 teachers. No other locality has a local source of funding like this, so PPS class sizes should be significantly LOWER than other districts. 

Thankfully, leaders in our community are also pushing back on cuts to education at a time when student need has never been greater, and we have the funds to make next year a BETTER YEAR: 

  • Thank you, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty for posting on Twitter that you “Stand with PAT.”
  • Thank you, Gubernatorial Candidate Tina Kotek for urging PPS to “put every resource into the classroom experience at a time when students, teachers, and communities desperately need it.”
  • Thank you to our fellow PPS Unions: SEIU, PFSP, DCU and ATU wrote this letter urging PPS to invest in students by dramatically reducing class sizes and caseloads.
  • Thank you to Representative Pham, Jama, Nelson, and Salinas, and Senator Lawrence Spence of the Oregon BIPOC Caucus for sending this letter to PPS leaders reminding them that “cuts to student facing positions should be the option of absolute last resort.“

And most importantly, THANK YOU to all of you, as well as all of the students and parents, who showed up in solidarity to school board meetings in the last few weeks, to ask the board to CUT CLASS SIZES, not teachers. 

Together, we can make next year a better year for our students. We are asking PPS leaders to share that vision, and utilize the resources we already have to make it a reality. 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

PAT PAC Endorsements for May Primary

The Portland Association of Teachers Political Action Committee (PAT PAC) is proud to announce its endorsements for the May 17, 2022 primary election.

The PAT PAC endorsement panel consisted of 8 educators along with OEA staff. The panel considered the following criteria while making their endorsements: support for collective bargaining; commitment to educator voice; knowledge of education issues such as standardized testing and disrupted learning; commitment to racial equity; advocacy for strong, fully-funded public schools; and electability.

We look forward to working with these candidates to better serve members, students, and families in PPS and across the region and the state.

Portland City Council

Position 3: Jo Ann Hardesty

Multnomah County
Chair: Jessica Vega Pederson

District 2: Susheela Jayapal

Metro Council

President: Lynn Peterson

Oregon House of Representatives

HD28: Dacia Grayber

HD33: Maxine Dexter

HD43: Tawna Sanchez

HD44: Travis Nelson

HD46: Khanh Pham

Oregon Senate:

SD17: Elizabeth Steiner Hayward

Coming soon: Recommendations for City Council Position 2 and House Districts 41 and 45.

For more information about these candidates and about PAT PAC, please visit

Our Custodian and Nutrition Worker Colleagues Ask For Safe and Healthy Schools

Please read the following message from our SEIU colleagues, and sign their petition:

During the worst pandemic in recent history, cafeteria staff and custodians worked in-person without adequate staff or support. Right now there are more than 50 unfilled custodian positions in our schools which makes it impossible to adequately clean bathrooms and sanitize high touch surfaces. It's clear that we need more helping hands to do the work of feeding our students and keeping our schools clean, sanitary, and safe.

Sign this petition: We Need Safe and Healthy Schools! that calls on Portland Public Schools to raise wages and hire enough staff to make our schools safe, healthy places for the children in our community!

PPS has enough money to make our schools safe and healthy:

  • Oregon's Student Success Act passed in 2019 ensures strong, ongoing, K-12 funding.
  • $50 Million dollars unspent in the 2021-2022 PPS budget. 

PPS must pay competitive wages. Starting wages of $14.40 an hour for cafeteria staff and $16.70 for custodians will not attract or retain quality workers.

Financial Investment Seminar, March 10th

Dear PAT Members,

Are you in the early or middle stages of your career and have questions on investing for retirement?

Join us and Financial Advisor Ed Foster next Thursday, March 10th at 4:30 PM-6:00 PM, via Zoom, to get information to best strategize your plan for retirement. RSVP today! 

This seminar is geared for people in the early or mid stages of their career. Topics include:

  • How does my pension work?
  • How does the IAP account fit into that?
  • How do I set up a 403b/TSA?
  • How much do I need to save for retirement?
  • How should I invest my retirement accounts?

See the flyer for more information.

RSVP today! Please remember that these webinars are a perk for being a PAT member. If you are not already a member, sign up here today.

PAT Scholarship for Future Educators of Color

Recruiting, supporting, and retaining educators of color is crucial, for our students and for our profession. We are excited to award two scholarships to Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) seeking a rewarding future career in education. 

  • One $6,000 scholarship will be awarded to a Portland Public Schools graduating senior who plans on enrolling in a college or university program to begin their journey towards becoming an educator.
  • One $6,000 scholarship to a Portland Public Schools employee (not PAT eligible) currently enrolled in a university program to become a certified educator.  Any classified or non-represented employees, such as bus drivers, para-educators, community agents, custodians, and nutrition services workers are eligible to apply.

Scholarship applications will be accepted through April 19th, 2022. Please see the links below to download an application and find instructions to apply.

PPS Employee Scholarship Application

PPS High School Senior Scholarship Application

Please contact [email protected] with questions about the application process. 

Get the flyer to share with students

Get the flyer to share with PPS employees

What Does It Mean to Be Unassigned?

Dear Colleagues,

PPS has begun the staffing process for next year by announcing the reduction of at least 120 teaching positions. This week, educators in your building may be learning that they are “unassigned.” We know this can be stressful to say the least, and want to make sure you know how this process works and what your rights are.   

First and foremost, an unassignment is NOT the same as a layoff.  

  • An unassignment occurs when there are more educators assigned to a building than there is FTE, or when there is no longer a position in a building for which an educator is qualified. Unassigned educators must be placed in jobs before the District can hire from outside. 
  • A layoff occurs when there are more educators than there are available jobs across the entire District. Due to the number of retirements and resignations the District is expecting this year, they say they do not expect a layoff. 

To help understand the process, PAT has produced two FAQs that help members each year. FAQ#1 and FAQ#2 on our Know Your Contract web page, address the process, but probably not the emotional impact of the District’s actions.

Next week there will be two PPS Informational Meetings for Unassigned Educators, on Wednesday, March 9 at 5:00pm and Thursday, March 10 at 4:30pm. The meetings will be virtual, and the links are being sent out by PPS. PAT staff will also be at the meetings to help answer any questions.

More about the Staffing Process

Each year, PPS informs principals of the total amount of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions for their building for the following year. Once they receive those numbers, the principals match their FTE with the District program requirements and their individual building program goals. If there are more people working in the building than there is FTE for the following year, some educators are unassigned. 

When an educator is unassigned from a building, they may apply in the internal postings round for openings in their licensure. In a typical year, about 150 – 200 educators resign/retire, and those positions may be posted in the internal round for unassigned members to transfer into after an interview. 

If an educator is not selected in the internal round of interviews, PPS HR begins an assisted placement process that occurs before the external round starts. In that process, educators who are still unassigned are placed in open spots. It is only after the assisted placement process is completed that either layoffs are determined OR the external process begins. In the event of a layoff, it is not necessarily the same educators who are unassigned who are subject to layoff. 

This year, due to high expected attrition, PAT does not believe there will be many (if any) layoffs, but we cannot see into the future or make that guarantee.  

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events:

  • March 21st-25th, Spring Break, PAT Offices Closed
  • April 6th, 4:30-6:30 Rep Assembly

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

  • April 13th, 4:30-6:30 PM: IPD Committee Meeting
  • April 20th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Legislative Committee Meeting
  • April 20th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Membership Committee Meeting
  • April 20th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Racial Equity Committee Meeting
  • April 27th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice/Community Outreach Committee Meeting
  • April 27th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee Meeting

**Unless otherwise noted, all PAT committee meetings will be held virtually on Zoom for the time being

Upcoming OEA Training and Events:

  • March 17, 4:30-5:30 PM: New Educator Tool Belt Series: Implicit Bias, Microaggressions and Stereotypes RSVP today!
  • March 17, 4:30-5:45 PM: Online Licensure Workshop RSVP today!
  • March 30th, 4:00-5:00 PM: Social Emotional Equitable Learning - Webinar Register today!

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