Teachers leaflet at the Great City Schools conference

7:49 am

While district administrators attended seminars like “Successful Teacher incentive and Pay for Performance Programs in Urban Schools” last week at the Great City Schools Conference, teachers leafleted attendees with the following:

To the Attendees of the Council of the Great City Schools Conference:

Welcome to Portland. In Portland, we are proud of our public schools. In this city, over 80% of residents choose to send their children to public school rather than other alternatives. The community respects and supports its teachers.

Teachers in the Portland Public Schools are some of the most highly educated and experienced staff in the state. 86% hold masters degrees or higher. Over 50% have 12 or more years of teaching experience.

No wonder Superintendent Carole Smith and the Portland Public Schools Board members are proud to host this conference. Unfortunately, however, they do not show similar regard for Portland teachers and our work.

Portland educators have now been working without a contract for SIXTEEN MONTHS. Despite that, day after day we continue to go to our school buildings because of our deep commitment to our students and to our community.

Just six years ago, Portland teachers took a pay cut of more than 5% when we worked ten days for free to avoid a threatened 24-day cut to the school year. Because of our action, all Portland students had a full school year. No other employee group in the district worked 10 days without pay. And now we are being asked to take another 5-day pay cut and a cost of living freeze.

The District calls for “shared sacrifice,” but it’s disingenuous. Portland teachers are continually asked to take on more responsibilities for less pay, while administrators at the central office are given five figure raises – for “increased responsibilities”.

One manager in Communications got a raise this year of $15,268. The amount of his raise alone is more than one-third of the annual salary of a 4th year teacher with a Masters degree. One part-time (0.8) Director of Planning and Performance at the central office, who has an MBA and no prior K-12 education experience, makes $90,000, while a full-time teacher with a PhD and twelve year’s experience makes $20,000 less.

Your PPS hosts probably did not mention that Portland teachers are frustrated and angry over the District’s lack of respect for us and our work. Teachers are seldom included in educational decisions that directly impact our students. Our professional training and experience is rarely acknowledged.

The District’s misguided priorities have resulted in staff frustration, low morale and a lack of confidence in PPS leadership.

What makes Great City Schools? Great teachers and great leaders who recognize that it takes teachers who feel respected for their professional knowledge and skill.

We have great teachers …

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Labor Relations

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8 Responses

  1. Comment from pdxmomto2:

    GO TEACHERS! I know this will sound radical and unpopular, but I for one would support a strike or other direct action!

  2. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    A teachers’ strike would be catastrophic on so many levels… it’s the last thing PAT wants, especially since one of the sticking points is furlough days.

    Heck, maybe that’s the district plan… force a strike, then after five days of teachers on the picket lines, decide to take the five furlough days out of their contract offer.

  3. Comment from Susan:

    A parents’ strike might be more effective and meaningful. Choose a day when those who can keep their children home (that crazy Monday of Thanksgiving week)? Perhaps the Portland PTA might organize…

  4. Comment from marcia:


  5. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    What ever game the PPS is playing with teachers is positively digusting and sickening! Why don’t the board members put some pressure on the district, or are they supportive of the way negotiations have NOT progressed?

    I went to several negotiation sessions last year, in fact most of them. The PPS is capable of the dirtiest tactics in dragging this out, and not recognizing previous SACRIFICES. Why anyone, anyone, would choose to teach in the PPS is beyond me.

    I swear I am going to stand outside PSU with a sandwich board and talk to ed. students about where NOT to apply for a job….watch me!!!!

  6. Comment from Bonnie Robb:

    Steve, I am pretty sure the district will push us to strike and then stop after 5 days. Then we are the bad guys for not caring about children by striking and they keep their PR spin going.

  7. Comment from John B. Tang:

    I understand that with the reorg., there were more raises given to the central office senior management staff. PPS central office was supposed to save $1M due to this reorg. however, it is just to reshuffle staff and give more responsibilities to staff that Carole Smith favors. Some of the reshuffling made sense but some did not. Look at the chart again to see what does not make sense to bundle a group of departments together in order to promote a few. There are a few more sticking out points: 1. Did the reorg. really save $1M? One can look at the old chart and attach the salaries to it and then compare with the new chart. In addition, there are newly hired staff in the new organization chart. If the numbers did not add up, then PPS is defrauding the tax payers. 2. Peter Hamilton and Jean Fischer are still working. Why? Why are we rehiring retirees who already benefited from the system for many years and now help them double-dip? PERS is a ticking time bomb because sooner or later, it will not have enough money to pay out to retirees. This is a national epidemic. Where is Bobbie Regan in all of this decision making process? She was supposed to run on the platform of not giving out perks to highly paid PPS officials. 2. PPS HR department has 47 staff including 11 highly paid Directors. Beaverton School district has 2 and their enrollment is only a couple thousand students less than PPS. Why do we need 11 directors in HR. What do they all do? 3. Huge contracts given and potentially given to outside consulting firms or individuals. What measurements or outcome does PPS expect from these huge contracts. What expertise these consultants bring to PPS that cannot be found from existing staff? How does PPS evaluate needs, measure success and ensure equitable access to minority companies? These are issues related to accountability and fairness. During economic downtimes, these financial decisions cannot be taken slightly.

    Where is the accountability to the tax payers?

  8. Comment from Zarwen:

    Eleven Directors?! Ten years ago, it was only three!!!