Oregon teachers who walked off the job Nov. 1 are back in the classroom after tentatively agreeing to a new deal. Some 45,000 students were locked out of the classroom as educators in the state’s largest system demanded more pay, smaller class sizes and other concessions.
A final vote on the tentative accord remained, but schools reopened their doors on Monday for the first time in weeks.
Portland Public Schools students missed eleven days of classroom learning prior to the weeklong break for Thanksgiving. The lost days will be made up by adding days to the 2024 schedule and reducing the winter break by a week.
Public school educators, who of course have students as their top priority, praised the agreement.
Portland Teachers Association President Angela Bonilla called the deal “a watershed moment for Portland students, families and educators.”
She explained that “educators walked the picket lines alongside families, students and allies, and because of that, our schools are getting the added investment they need.”
— One America News (@OANN) November 27, 2023
Teachers will receive a 13.8% cumulative cost-of-living increase over the next three years. Nearly half of educators in the system will get an additional 10.6% in yearly step increases.
Other adjustments include increased class time for elementary and middle school students along with teacher prep time. The total will increase by 90 minutes per week starting with the next school year.
As for class size, the agreement calls for “expanded language on target class sizes and caseloads including new committees to discuss growing class sizes.”
There is also a deal on protecting educators from unsafe building conditions and increased access to mental health support teams.
The left-wing National Education Association applauded the work of striking teachers. President Becky Pringle declared that educators and students are returning to “improved schools” due to the collaborative efforts that went into the three-week strike.
Before Monday, the last day Portland students were in the classroom was Halloween. Unlike during the COVID-19 pandemic, online classes were not made available during the teacher walkout.
Teachers last week blocked traffic on a local bridge, and Oregon Public Broadcasting reported vandalism to the rental property of a school board member. Another had posters placed on his car.