At press deadline, the teachers’ strike that closed Portland Public Schools for most of November was barreling toward a reconciliation. But let us not allow this newly forged peace to spoil our memories of the vicious backbiting the strike provoked. No, let’s preserve in amber the hostile jabs traded between organized labor and demoralized parents. Many of these remarks were occasioned by last week’s cover profile of Portland Association of Teachers president Angela Bonilla (“Made for Walking,” WW, Nov. 22). Here is a sampling of what readers had to say. Let the healing begin!
MG, via wweek.com: “This pro-union and pro-teacher person has been dismayed at the approach of PAT from the beginning of this. To be that wildly inaccurate in the budget numbers, not to mention the pathetic plea to the governor to bail them out with magical money, tells me that this was a case of an overeager union thinking that liberal Portland would forgive them for providing our children with yet another year of substandard effort. I have not forgot the garbage distance learning that these people provided, nor have I forgot how they refused to open the schools even after cutting line on vaccinations. I’m sure being a teacher in Portland is very hard and there are a lot of reforms needed. Thinking that parents and kids will piss away their futures to help them throw a temper tantrum about that is a ridiculous misstep that their own union clearly baited them into. Just a shameful performance all around. Glad they got their raise. My kids certainly didn’t get a brighter future.”
Anne Elizabeth, via wweek.com: “Way to describe the legitimate demands of teachers for adequate learning environments as merely ‘catnip for parent support.’ Do you know what it’s like to try to teach 30 kindergarten students how to share adult attention AND learn to read? Do you work in an unreinforced masonry building with a 100-year-old heating system, windows painted shut, mold, asbestos and rodents? Would you?
“So much for actual journalism from WW.”
WillJParker, via Reddit: “Something to keep in mind is that private unions, like the Teamsters, can have union leaders that are professional labor relations people.
“Public employee unions, like the teachers union, can’t. All union members and leadership must be teachers. The larger organizations, like Service Employees International Union and the National Education Association, can have professional labor relations people, but the locals are limited to the members of the bargaining unit.
“Which means it’s going to be whatever teacher has the most friends and wants the job. Not whoever is most qualified, because functionally no one is.
“So most public employee union locals are amateur hour as fuck.
“Source: former public employee union local president and chief steward.”
Aubrey Pagenstecher, via Facebook: “I continue to be inspired by President Bonilla’s leadership. She is leading this movement with brains, heart, and passion. I never doubt for a moment where her priorities are rooted: with the educators and students of Portland.
“I wish we would stop seeing the same few sound bites regurgitated in the local press. Willamette Week is once again demonstrating they’re more interested in stirring the pot than reporting the facts.
“PAT has made a statement denouncing vandalism. Media chose not to run it. There’s no evidence that PAT members were involved in the vandalism, though many rushed to offer to clean up the damage.”
vonblick, via Reddit: “The political theater in this town always feels like the parking lot after a Grateful Dead show.”
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