After COVID-related school shutdowns resulted in widespread learning loss and exacerbated mental health issues for students, teachers within the largest school district in Oregon forced kids to stay out of school for most of November as they negotiated for a higher salary and other desired benefits.
🚨After a month-long teachers' union strike, Portland students are returning to school today
Kids were denied learning AGAIN, after 1 of the longest school shutdowns in the nation, bcus of a union's trivial, illogical, & exorbitantly expensive demandshttps://t.co/qwYLy67M16
— Caroline Downey (@carolinedowney_) November 27, 2023
According to reports, Portland Public Schools reached a deal with the teachers union and, although it had not been formally approved by either the union or the school board, it was enough for classes to resume this week.
Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero celebrated the news on behalf of the district.
“We are relieved to have our students returning to school and know that being out of school for the last three weeks — missing classmates, teachers, and learning — has been hard for everyone,” he said.
In the end, students will lose scheduled days off, including one week from the upcoming winter break, in order to compensate for the unscheduled missed days their teachers thrust upon them.
Despite the toll the recent strike has taken on families across the district, Portland Teachers Association President Angela Bonilla insisted that everyone should be pleased about the outcome.
“This contract is a watershed moment for Portland students, families, and educators,” she claimed. “Educators have secured improvements on all our key issues. … Educators walked picket lines alongside families, students, and allies, and because of that, our schools are getting the added investment they need.”
Of course, a significant amount of that tentative investment will go directly to the educators themselves, who secured a nearly 14% raise over the course of three years on top of a 10.6% annual raise that nearly half of the district’s teachers will also receive.
The starting salary for teachers in the district was already about $50,000 per year.
Taking a page out of the playbook of climate extremists and other protester groups in recent years, one of the tactics used by striking teachers involved shutting down traffic across a local bridge.
For its part, the district has repeatedly asserted that there is not enough money in the budget — currently more than $10 billion — to meet all of the union’s demands and is now calling on voters to support a spending increase that their tax dollars will fund.