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Jefferson students protest
By Helen Silvis | The Skanner News
Published: 05 February 2014

 Portland Association Teachers voted to strike Wednesday evening.

“As a result of the vote, the Portland Association of Teachers will issue a strike notice to the Employment Relations Board (ERB) and the Portland Public Schools District calling for a strike beginning Thursday, February 20, 2014,” the teachers said in a press release.

According to the statement, nearly 3,000 Portland teachers voted, by “an overwhelming majority" for a strike. 

Gwen Sullivan, the association president, is quoted saying:

No teacher ever wants to go on strike, we want to be in classrooms with our students.

But Portland teachers are united and resolved to stand up for our students’ learning conditions. It’s time to move this to a conclusion so that we can have a contract that is fair for teachers and good for students.

The teachers say they have been negotiating for 10 months but can’t agree on a contract that:

·         results in meaningful class size relief,

·         does not force teachers to teach to the test,

·         supports the students and schools who need it most, and

·         provides fair compensation after years of sacrifice.

 Portland School Board Co-Chairs Pam Knowles and Greg Belisle issued the following statement after the strike vote:

Tonight, we are very disappointed that the Portland Association of Teachers voted to authorize a strike. We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement and we hope both teams are able to make significant progress during the next mediation session on Sunday, Feb. 9.

We know that a strike would be extremely disruptive for students and families. Our 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 while keeping our spending in line with projected state funding.

Here is a link where you can read the details of PPS’s mediation proposal.

Thank you for continuing to support our schools, students, families, teachers and other school staff.

Pam Knowles

Greg Belisle

The teachers say they have asked the district to bring forward a mediation session scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 9th.

Bill Wilson, the Grant High School teacher who chairs the bargaining team, is quoted in the statement saying

“This vote shows that teachers are serious about addressing the growing crisis in our schools. We hope that Superintendent Smith and School Board leaders understand this and will come to the bargaining table as soon as possible prepared to make meaningful progress toward addressing the priorities of teachers, parents and students.”

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