Portland Public Teachers Strike Averted

By Sophie Peters ’16

Supporters of the teachers gathered at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Febuary 5th. (Photo: Bette Lee)

Supporters of the teachers gathered at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Febuary 5th. (Photo: Bette Lee)

After ten months of meetings and a long past few weeks of bargaining between the school district and the teachers union, a conceptual agreement was reached to avert the Portland Public Schools (PPS) strike yesterday morning.

As of last night, a final contract was reviewed and signed, according to the Facebook page of the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT). The strike planned for Feb. 20 has been suspended.

Many PPS high school students have come together to rally for their teachers during the past few weeks, asking that the schools provide funding for smaller class sizes, a better arts curriculum and other needed benefits.

One senior at Grant High School, Caleb Gumanow, led an after-school walkout on February 5. Other high schools led walkouts on the 5th and 6th.

Gumanow supported the strike “only if the PPS doesn’t budge on contract negotiations – The reason I support the teachers in this situation because they are already underpaid and have as many as 180 students to grade and help each day.”

Superintendent, Carole Smith, wrote in a letter to the public on February 12 that the “goal is to reach an agreement that adds teachers to schools, adds school days, raises teacher pay and maintains strong benefits, and helps Portland keep and hire the best educators for our classrooms.”

PPS and the teachers union have been trying to come to an agreement for over 10 months and although most people had a preference on if the teachers strike, it is clear that there were positive and negative effects if a strike occurred.

When speaking of the effects a strike would have had on students, Gumanow said, “the long term effects of this strike will be happier teachers who will be able to give better attention to all students and smaller class sizes.” He also acknowledged that the short-term effects would include “absences, delayed schedules in their coursework, and for seniors, like myself, the possibility of not being able to graduate because of absences.”

Terms of the agreement have not yet been released to the public.