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  • Rachel Gross

Opinion: Support Portland Teachers

I think our teachers here in Portland do a great job! I could list the reasons why, but I know for a fact that most of you already believe this and know why they are really good. How hard they work, the extra time they put in and the how invaluable they are in the education of our children.

Here’s something you might not know. Did you know our teachers are currently working without a contract and are in negotiations? It’s true, they are. Part of the negotiations involve a request for a minimal increase in teacher salaries. Another fact, the teachers have also accepted contracts with pay freezes over the last few years. This has helped create a 17% fund equity balance. This 17% equity balance can be used for a small increase in salary. Teachers will typically use up to 51% of a districts budget, we are below that right now.

I could get into a lot more on the reasons why (increasing classroom sizes is a big one), but to get to the point, I think our teachers do a great job and should be compensated fairly for it. I believe that Portland won’t attract and retain good teachers without competitive (maybe even slightly more than competitive) salaries. We want good (great) teachers to come to and STAY in Portland. We want our great teachers that are here to feel supported and stay here, not give them a reason to have to leave.

It would be wonderful if we were able to come together as a community and be able to offer our teachers a great salary, good benefits and an amazing place/city in which to work. We have a chance to show that we value our teachers, the most essential/influential people in our children’s education at school, and reflect that belief by advocating on their behalf for a salary increase.

I have attached a link to a great article that discusses the importance of salary pay and the concerning teacher pay gap that is growing wider within our public school. I hope you take the time to follow the link and read the article. Here is a piece from that article about why all of this is important:

“Why this matters: An effective teacher is the most important school-based determinant of education outcomes. It is therefore crucial that school districts recruit and retain high-quality teachers. This is particularly difficult at a time when the supply of teachers is constrained by high turnover rates, annual retirements of longtime teachers, and a decline in students opting for a teaching career—and when demand for teachers is rising due to rigorous national student performance standards and many locales’ mandates to shrink class sizes. In light of these challenges, providing adequate wages and benefits is a crucial tool for attracting and keeping the teachers America’s children need.”

If you would like to show your support for our teachers and feel the same way I do. The best way we can advocate for them is to email our Superintendent, Will Health and the Portland school board members. Just simply include the article and let them know as a community member you find the information compelling especially in light of the information from that study and the amount of fund balance we are carrying forward at the expense of the educators and support staff.

So many times we would like to help and use our voices to help create change for those things that are important to us. This is a time that you can do that, just by simply writing a quick email! I LOVE Portland and I know that others care deeply about our schools! I know others want our school district to not just barely meet the status quo but be better than that, to exceed expectations and prove that when our children’s education is at stake that we do value the system we send them to.

I believe negotiations are continuing tonight, so if you could send emails out today, it would be helpful. Thanks for your time! OH AND SHARE if you agree!

Editors note: This piece was received by The Portland Beacon on Thursday 10/4/18.

Rachel Gross is a resident of the Portland Public School District. The opinions expressed in this piece are her own and do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Portland Beacon or its management.

If you have an opinion on a local matter that you would like to share, we want to hear from you. Please email

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