For your beleaguered teachers, today's rally was inspirational. While the public enters the final hours of deliberation before Measure 28, we teachers have continued to work without a contract. Since the bells first rang out the start of the new school year this past September, the educational climate has been hampered by the gloom of a monstrous budget shortfall.
Amidst the daily lesson plans, grading, developing positive classroom dynamics, and more grading, the value of schools as a public institution has been eroded. While the economic downturn has wreaked havoc with the private and public sectors alike, the Portland School Board's proposed contract limits teacher autonomy and goes against best practices for student achievement.
We're well aware of the PERS mess. Most teachers are more than willing to accept revision to its policies and tables. Further, we have seen our pay frozen or diminished several times over the last decade. Instead of demanding higher pay, we bargained for strong health benefits. Now those too are on the block. Even here, many teachers are willing to cap their plans to work on balancing a massive budget shortfall.
But the Board's decision to mandate transfers at a whim has galvanized Portland educators. This proposal has no fiscal benefits. At a time when it is important to settle the contract so we all can get back to what matters-the students-our school board has made impossible demands. Educators across the world know how long it takes to build a program and develop continuity and strength in a learning environment. I would challenge any member of the board to cite any pedagogical precedents that would indicate tearing teachers from their school would well serve anyone.
And so, today's rallying was heartening. Amidst the greater global strorm that looms on the horizon, there is no substitute for the strength of people in the streets. I have hope for my classroom. I believe the people of this city, of this state, will demand more for their children. I'll continue to give my students every ounce of energy and devotion to their education I can muster. It's what we do. But I will not sacrafice the bargained rights that our union has worked so hard to maintain. They're asking way too much.