Portland Public Schools Resume Classes Following Historic Conclusion to Teachers’ Strike

Portland Public Schools Resume Classes Following Historic Conclusion to Teachers’ Strike | Future Education Magazine


After a prolonged and unprecedented teachers’ strike that commenced on November 1, Portland Public Schools (PPS) in Oregon is back in session as more than 40,000 students returned to their classrooms on Monday. This marks the end of the longest teachers’ strike in the United States in 2023.

The Final Approval Rests with the Union

Over the weekend, Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) reached a tentative agreement, effectively concluding the strike that spanned more than three weeks. Although the agreement involves a substantial $175 million contract, its final approval rests with the union as classes resume.

Angela Bonilla, President of the Portland Association of Teachers, described the contract as a “watershed moment” for students, families, and educators in Portland. The sentiment was echoed by educators, like veteran teacher Tiffany Koyama Lane, who experienced an overwhelming welcome from students and parents upon returning to Sunnyside Environmental School.

Powerful Support from the Community

“I walked out this morning – as did every other teacher at my school – and like, the families and kids cheered and started crying and like, tackled me in like one giant group hug,” shared Koyama Lane, reflecting on the powerful support from the community.

The strike, the first-ever in the city, spanned 11 instructional days, factoring in weekends and holidays. Following months of negotiations, Portland’s nearly 4,000 educators secured significant victories, including enhanced mental health support, reduced class sizes, and increased compensation for the rising cost of living.

A Positive Ripple Effects for Students across the State

Reed Scott-Schwalbach, President of the Oregon Education Association (OEA), hailed the tentative agreement as “historic” and predicted positive ripple effects for students across the state. The agreement encompasses a roughly 14% overall pay raise over three years, $20 million for classroom renovations, and a dedicated contract article addressing special education – a first for Portland’s teachers.

Across the nation, teachers have been engaged in strikes, advocating for fair wages and addressing other issues, such as guaranteed planning time. Many educators have faced challenges due to the teaching shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fairly Compensates Portland Public Schools Teachers

Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, acknowledged the ongoing challenges of post-pandemic teaching and expressed her support for the proposed agreement. She stated that it “fairly compensates Portland Public Schools teachers and gives them the resources and support they need to provide their students with a path to success.”

To compensate for the missed class time, students and teachers in Portland will be making up for it over winter break and throughout the new year. As the classrooms buzz with activity once again, the conclusion of the strike represents not just an agreement on paper but a crucial moment of resilience, collaboration, and commitment to the well-being of Portland’s educational community.

Also Read: Prolonged Standoff: Portland Teachers’ Strike Casts Shadow over Thanksgiving

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