Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers have reached a tentative deal to end the teachers strike that’s been occurring for over three weeks, keeping schools in the area closed since November 1st. This week, more than 40,000 students were able to return to the classroom.
According to the Portland Public Schools letter sent out to families last weekend, union members will have to ratify the terms of the agreement, and the school board will also need to approve the full contract, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“We are relieved to have our students returning to school and know that being out of school for the last three weeks — missing classmates, teachers, and learning — has been hard for everyone,” Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero and the PPS school board said.
“We thank our students, families, and community for your patience and perseverance through these protracted negotiations. We also want to express our deep appreciation for our educators, who are the backbone of our district, and who enrich the lives of our students.”
The Portland Association of Teachers said “educators are ending the strike, securing a historic tentative agreement with key wins for student mental health support, class size, protected planning time, building health and safety protections, and cost-of-living increases.”
The district’s statement said the “agreement includes processes for resolving class size concerns that involve impacted educators, school leaders, and parents.” The teachers union suggested parents would be more than simply involved, describing the new structure as “shared decision-making committees involving educators and parents.”
Portland Association of Teachers president Angela Bonilla stated that parents would not gain access to private student information, and further discussions will be about identifying necessary support for class sizes that are growing too large.
“That might look like saying, ‘Hey, this class is in the small classroom on the second floor now that they have an extra student, we gotta move them to the big classroom. But we know that the best solutions to problems that we have in our schools come from the folks who actually attend them, who work at them and who send their students to those places,” Bonilla said.
As outlined in statements from PAT and PPS, “the contract also increases dedicated planning time, access to mental health support teams for students throughout the district, and funding to address building conditions, among other things.”
“This contract is a watershed moment for Portland students, families and educators. Educators walked picket lines alongside families, students and allies — and because of that, our schools are getting the added investment they need,” Bonilla said.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.