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Portland Teachers Relieved About Tentative Agreement

OPB | Feb. 19, 2014 1:20 p.m. | Updated: Feb. 20, 2014 7:37 a.m. | Portland

Lincoln High School Math teacher Chuck Slusher (file photo).

Lincoln High School Math teacher Chuck Slusher (file photo).

Rob Manning / OPB

Portland teachers would’ve been on picket lines Thursday, if not for an agreement reached earlier this week

Teachers expressed relief at Tuesday’s announcement of a tentative agreement between Portland Public Schools and the teachers’ union.  

Chuck Slusher teaches math at Lincoln High School. He says he was not looking forward to the strike that was scheduled for Thursday. Slusher was grateful to hear that picket signs would not be in his future.  

He said, “Overwhelming relief that it was not going to occur. I think the strike would’ve been devastating personally, just in terms of me being able to follow through with my students like I want to be able to, being able to provide the education we want to, primarily just relief at first.”

But Slusher says he and other teachers also felt frustrated — that the process got so close to what would’ve been the first-ever strike in Oregon’s largest district.

Lincoln High School history teacher Fred Fox

Lincoln High School history teacher Fred Fox

Rob Manning / OPB

Another Lincoln High teacher, Fred Fox, learned of it from his students.

He said he didn’t believe them at first, “I didn’t believe them. I was like ‘are you serious?’ So somebody had to pull it up and show me on their phone.”

Fox had prepared two sets of lesson plans — one if there was no strike, and one telling students what to work on, if there was one. Fox says he’s relieved, but also disappointed in how talks went.

Fox said, “I hope that this sort of marks a low point in the relationship, and moving forward, we can work more closely together, as opposed to always blaming one another when things aren’t working.”

Like most teachers, Fox hasn’t seen the agreement. Union leaders aim to help teachers understand the complicated deal, before they vote on it. The Portland school board has to approve it, too.

Union members still need to ratify the contract. Union leaders say the tentative agreement is a complicated document. They say they’re planning a thorough process, so that teachers can understand the deal, before they vote on it.

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