Education

Portland teachers and school district expected to continue negotiation on Black Friday

By Natalie Pate (OPB)
Nov. 23, 2023 5:43 a.m. Updated: Nov. 24, 2023 6:45 p.m.

According to a statement from the Portland Public Schools Board of Education, bargaining teams are expected to continue talks on Friday.

No deal has been reached between the Portland Association of Teachers and Portland Public Schools going into the Thanksgiving weekend.

After 9 p.m. on Wednesday, the district’s Board of Education released a statement addressed to the PPS community. It acknowledges that the strike and closed schools are weighing on everyone, especially going into the holiday weekend.

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“Following the overnight bargaining session on Sunday, the parties agreed on 17 articles in the contract. However, a critical issue remained unresolved: whether parents should have a role in classroom placement decisions about a student who is not their child,” it states.

FILE: Several hundred educators and supporters marched from the Portland Association of Teachers headquarters to the city waterfront on Tuesday, Nov. 21, as part of the ongoing teachers strike.

FILE: Several hundred educators and supporters marched from the Portland Association of Teachers headquarters to the city waterfront on Tuesday, Nov. 21, as part of the ongoing teachers strike.

Natalie Pate / OPB

According to the board’s statement, PPS sent a revised proposal to the Portland Association of Teachers on Tuesday, following the union’s rejection of their proposal Monday.

The statement says the Tuesday proposal makes room for parent voices on school-wide class size issues while leaving the decisions about individual students to their parents and each school’s professional administrators and educators.

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“Tonight, we were disappointed to receive an incomplete proposal from PAT that also did not respond to either of our proposals on class size committees,” the board stated. “We know the language in this contract matters so that we can best serve our students. We urge PAT to respond to these remaining issues quickly, so we can get our children back into school on Monday.”

There are three executive sessions on the calendar for the Portland school board, set in the afternoons of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The topic of the sessions is labor negotiations.

As of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, PAT had not issued a public statement or comment for the press. The union did post a video on Instagram that says, “(D)espite everything, you woke and chose joy.” The video goes on to say, “This is what community looks like. Together, we’ll win great public schools for all. Where all students can thrive. Stronger together.”

Friday morning, the Portland Association of Teachers sent out a statement acknowledging a “news blackout” between the two parties “in order to focus on resolving issues with PPS so Portland students can get back to school.”

“Unfortunately,” the statement read, “the district chose to backtrack on their commitment to a news blackout — just as they backtracked on the agreement we reached Monday morning.

“There are now additional issues other than the class size committee that PPS has insisted on reopening that need to be addressed in order to settle a fair contract. PAT’s team is focused on finalizing a settlement.”

This is a developing story and may be updated.

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