The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

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The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

Teachers’ strike continues with community support, little progress on contract

Thisbe Delamarter
The rally outside of the district office on Nov. 2. Many attendees are wearing blue to show solidarity with the teachers’ union.

On Nov. 1, the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) officially went on strike after a long contract negotiation during which they could not reach a contract agreement with PPS. Among other issues, educators are advocating for safer school buildings, more student supports and a fair cost-of-living adjustment to their salaries.

Teachers held morning picket lines outside of all PPS schools during what would have been the remainder of the school week. In the afternoons, teachers consolidated at central locations for larger rallies. The first rally took place at Roosevelt High School, the second at the district office and the third was a march from Lincoln High School to City Hall.

“I’m very touched by how many people show up,” Spanish teacher Marisol Rodriguez De Lort said. “I met people from Mt. Hood Community College yesterday who came to support us.”

Rodriguez De Lort said that the strike is “not about dividing PPS, one group against the other.”

According to PAT’s website, they are striking in order “to create the best possible learning environment for our students, by protecting our profession and advocating for frontline educators.”

Junior Jorge Sanchez Bautista, a student PAT organizer who has been attending the picket lines since day one, expressed that it is important to him that students support their teachers while they’re on strike.

Sanchez Bautista said that so far the number of other students at picket lines “has been small” and that “it’s a little bit disappointing because…the whole reason why [the teachers are] striking, the large [majority], is because of us.”

However, he also said that he’s recently been reached out to by clubs and friends from other schools who have notified him that they are attending picket lines.

“I’m happy to know that there’s finally students that are coming out,” Sanchez Bautista said. Additionally, he mentioned that he’s noticed many elementary students at strike events.

Among other supporters, parents and students have been walking the picket lines alongside teachers.

At the rally at the district office on Nov. 2, parent and student attendees expressed their solidarity with the union and their own frustration with current classroom conditions.

In a speech at the district office rally, a parent with students at George Middle School and Sitton Elementary School said, “Why am I sending my most precious, my most dear, off to PPS public school buildings with rats and mold and asbestos? Why am I sending my most precious, my most dear, off to schools where the ceilings are falling in and the heat doesn’t work?”

The parent voiced her support for the union.

“Our teachers are fighting for the students’ right to clean and safe buildings, smaller classes, and more mental health support. These are not unreasonable demands,” she said.

The podium at the rally at the district office featured many speakers, from current and former PPS parents and students to teachers and union leaders.

In another speech, an elementary student from Marysville K-5 said, “you know, I’ve always felt like classes are too big. It stresses me out. And it’s just way easier to focus in smaller classes.”

After the student’s speech, PAT Bargaining Chair Steve Lancaster said, “Hey, PPS, you can ignore us, but I dare you to ignore him.”

Sanchez Bautista believes that “the strike has actually been going really well.” He has noticed many community members attending rallies and picket lines to support teachers.

He also said that, because PAT and PPS have so far been unable to reach a contract agreement, he thinks that the strike could “last another week or so.”

On the evening of Nov. 5, PPS released a strike update signed by superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero, stating that the district will continue with negotiations and that any further school closures will be communicated to families by “no later than 9:00 pm each night.”

In the update, Guerrero pledges the district will remain “committed to meeting continually and making compromises within our fixed resources until we arrive at a fair settlement.”

Bargaining between PPS and PAT will continue throughout the week.

Rodriguez De Lort is hopeful that both sides will be able to come together and make an agreement that benefits everyone. “I think the message [the union is] conveying is, we are one. We are with the community members, we are together. This is our children. This is our future.”

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About the Contributor
Thisbe Delamarter, Online Editor
Thisbe Delamarter (she/her) is a senior who loves reading, learning and soccer. She loves journalism because she enjoys investigating and sharing new perspectives.

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  • G

    Grace OhNov 7, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    Such a necessary and impressive piece of reporting. Keep up the great work Thisbe + Oracle team – loving the strike coverage!!

  • E

    Elizabeth ThielNov 7, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    It means SO MUCH having students out on the line with educators. Thank you to all the students who have been out there marching, chanting, and playing music!