PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland is less than a week from a potential teachers strike in Oregon’s largest school district, impacting more than 45,000 students.
Mediation talks are still in the works, but if that fails, this will be the first strike in PPS history and teachers say it couldn’t come sooner.
“I’m not excited to leave my students to go on strike, but we are at that point and it is really exciting to experience the solidarity and creativity coming together for our students,” PPS teacher Brittany Dorris said.
Gathering to make picket signs Thursday evening, Portland Public Schools teachers are preparing for the historic strike which would be a first for the district.
“I am ready to fight for the schools that our students deserve,” PPS teacher Beyoung Yu said. “I am wanting smaller class sizes for all of our kiddos and our community and building temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees and planning time for educators as well.”
Teachers tell KOIN 6 they share many of the same concerns across the board, like cost of living and some needing a second job to get by while also tackling daily class needs.
“I currently have a class of 34 and I’m not able to do my job the way that they deserve because there are so many and I don’t have enough planning time to support them,” Dorris said.
Their union, the Portland Association of Teachers, says with upcoming mediations set, there’s still time for compromise before the planned strike on Nov. 1.
“We do still have two upcoming mediation sessions, so that’s scheduled and they’re going to happen and we will be there and hopefully exchange proposals and come to some type of an agreement,” PAT Vice President Jacque Dixon said.
For PPS families and students concerned about the challenges a strike and school closures can mean, the union urges them to consider why they’re striking but to also do what they need to in the meantime.
“I think folks are excited and ready and passionate because we’re doing this for our students and at the same time, we realize it can be challenging to have a work stoppage and have no school,” Dixon said. “We’re doing this in the long run really for what’s best for students. I hope families are looking into the resources.”
There are resources being offered for PPS families during the strike including mental health services and college application support, all listed online.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.