|Henry Li, Portland Public Schools Board student representative, circulated this open letter to the Portland Teachers Union Monday night.|
Dear Teachers of Portland Public Schools,
How are you doing? If you're like us, you're probably worried about the budget cuts that are going to hit our schools again this year.
Sometimes it may seem like we don't really care about school. You know, like when we stare glassy-eyed at the the marks you're making on the board? Or, like when we don't even thank you for the sacrifices it takes to teach when class sizes are ballooning and when your pay isn't exactly in the six-figure range?
But, really, we do care. We care a lot. We care about our brothers and sisters, we care about students in Title I-funded schools, we care about the future of Portland. We, too, care about ballooning class sizes with another 110 teachers slated to be cut this year.
Please consider opening up the contract to allow adding furlough days. We recognize the sacrifice this takes on your part, but we believe there is simply no other option. The cuts don't have to all be taken through days. Just three or even two would help a lot.
Staff reductions have a long-term educational impact because the next generation of teachers lose their jobs. We, teachers and students, are all affected for an entire school year by larger class sizes and less support. Also, cutting a teacher often means eliminating an elective or program that keeps students interested in school. Programs, once gone, are difficult to restore. And again, the cuts don't have to all be taken through days. We just hope it can be an option.
Please consider our request. On behalf of the 47,000 students in Portland, we thank you sincerely for the sacrifices you have made to give us an education.
Elected representatives of Portland's student body:
Henry Li, Wilson High School
Kevin Truong, Benson Polytechnic High School
Risa Luther, Franklin High School
Phu Nguyen, Madison High School
Bridgette Lang, Jefferson High School
Alexia Garcia, Lincoln High School
Sophia Kecskes, Cleveland High School
Ray Kennedy, Trillium Charter School
Ellie Johnson, Grant High School
Patrick Curtis, Trillium Charter School
Shani Plunkett, Roosevelt High School