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Portland Teachers Ask for Changes
Educators are stretched beyond capacity trying to fill the gaps

The Portland Association of Teachers, the Union represents more than 4500 professional educators in the Portland Public School system, met with district administration to bargain for what they say is "immediate and much needed workload relief that centers student safety and social-emotional needs, and that directs the District resources where they are needed the most, into the classroom and for wrap-around supports." PAT President is Elizabeth Thiel.

According to the union, "For a year and a half, the ongoing pandemic has disrupted our school system and our entire community. This year, students at every grade level need so much more from our public schools, both academically and in terms of social-emotional support. Additionally, we are seeing more students impacted by trauma and in need of intensive support than ever before.

"We are facing an historic staffing shortage, and hundreds of crucial positions in our schools remain unfilled. Educators are stretched beyond capacity trying to fill the gaps. For example, our counselors, social workers, and academic support teachers are frequently being assigned to cover classes, rather than providing specific supports for students that are so urgently needed.

"Educators are working every day to connect with students from behind masks, to teach over the noise of air purifiers, to establish classroom climate that meets all students’ social and emotional learning needs, to adapt to the absence of students and colleagues who are out due to COVID, all while working to keep up with curricular goals."

The union wants to focus on what they say students and educators need most in this moment, which includes the following:

Students deserve classroom instruction that meets their current needs Students deserve all available PPS resources directly addressing their needs Students deserve schools that are safe, secure, and that focus on the whole child. According to a letter to members sent by the PAT Bargaining team, "we are looking to have all “non-essential” activities stop. That means fewer committee meetings, fewer staff meetings, suspending/postponing many educator-evaluations, and removing busy-work from PLC meetings.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Secondly, we are looking to restructure elements of the work week so that professional educators can focus on meeting student and family needs: at the Elementary and Middle School levels, we proposed a weekly early-release; for High Schools, we proposed converting 8-period “skinny days” to become days for Flex-time/office hours and asynchronous learning. We also proposed converting a few days to professional development days focused on school climate, and additional planning days so that professional educators can adapt curriculum to meet the needs of students.

Clearly, public schools -- including Portland Public Schools, the state's largest school district -- are in disarray.

The union is hopeful that these changes will be implemented immediately after winter break. Some of these proposed changes will surely cost money.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-11-30 18:12:26Last Update: 2021-12-01 13:51:06



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