Portland teachers’ union prepares to strike, wants CRT professional development and universal pre-K

An Oregon teachers’ union is currently preparing to strike after the school district refused to meet its demands critics say are outrageous.

Despite warnings from the district that a strike…

An Oregon teachers’ union is currently preparing to strike after the school district refused to meet its demands critics say are outrageous.

Despite warnings from the district that a strike would harm students and “disrupt critical work to close pandemic-related learning losses,” the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) is making demands many consider outlandish and tangential.

It’s bargaining platform includes the following: 

  • “Educator-led professional development on racial equity and restorative justice.”  
  • “Provide long-delayed professional development addressing implicit bias, anti-racism, and culturally responsive practices.”  
  • “Extend public school to every child over the age of 3 through Multnomah County’s Universal Pre-K program.” Multnomah County describes their preschool as “free, culturally responsive, [and] inclusive.” 
  • “Play-based curriculum and the right to nap” for preschool students.  
  • “No standardized testing beyond state mandates.”  
  • “Emergency services for families facing eviction.”  
  • Resilience Fund to help families in crisis.” 

In other words, Portland teachers will refuse to work unless public education funds are used as housing subsidies for low-income families. 

“Our schools really fuel our community, and vice versa, so our contract has to extend past the bread and butter items,” Angela Bonilla, president of PAT, told Northwest Labor Press.  

These “bread and butter” union demands are ones that actually pertain to teachers, such as better pay and smaller class sizes. 

But critics say union bosses are thinking bigger, asking for housing subsidies, racial reparations, and winning mayoral offices. 

One California union is trying to force the district to turn school parking lots into homeless encampments – despite the six-figure security costs.  

Another fought for racially exclusive reparations.  

The Chicago Teachers’ Union even described winning the mayoral election as a “high priority” for the union.  

And in a recent speech, the president of the national teachers’ union clamored about “education justice,” LGBT rights, abortion rights, voting rights, affirmative action, social justice, the Supreme Court, Florida, gun violence, and books bans – everything except reading, writing and arithmetic.   

Maddie Dermon, policy analyst at the Freedom Foundation, told The Lion it shows the unions are really just trying to advance a leftist political agenda. 

“The demands of the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) reach beyond the scope of education and indicate the union’s prioritization of a left-wing political agenda over the workplace rights of its members,” she said. 

“Teachers’ unions like the NEA [National Education Association] double down on this political agenda by utilizing a significant portion of revenue from membership fees to fund political advocacy and contributions,” Dermon continued. “In 2021, for example, the NEA spent $66 million on political activity, compared to just $33 million spent on member representation. Historically, 99% of the NEA’s political contributions have supported left wing candidates and causes.”  

Meanwhile, less than half of Portland students meet grade-level standards for math. And 40% of students aren’t proficient in reading.  

In fact, Oregon’s pandemic-era learning loss was some of the worst in the nation, with students during the 2022-23 still scoring lower than pre-pandemic rates. 

PAT is set to vote on whether to strike Oct. 16. If it does, 50,000 students will lose even more instructional time.