Portland area teachers and Portland Public Schools are now well into the second week of a strike, with schools remaining closed.
It is getting harder on everyone.
Prior to seminary and ordination, I was a public high school teacher in Texas. Teachers in Texas have no collective bargaining rights and limited ability to organize. Teacher “unions” are relegated to offering education resources, liability insurance, and some legal representation to their members.
I’ve been thinking about that dynamic, and what it was like as a Texas teacher: to be so vulnerable to political forces at work in state, local and district governing bodies (at best, often unsympathetic; and at worst, downright hostile).
In Oregon, teachers can unite their voices and exercise real power to demand better. They are doing just that. As I pass by picket lines and read updates on the negotiations, I appreciate the preciousness of teachers’ rights to demand safer conditions, resources for effective learning, and fair wages as cost of living rises sharply. I want St. Michael’s teachers and all school professionals to know we are praying with you: for God to sustain you during this stressful time and for a good and fair result that benefits you and your students and our whole community.
Students and families are also under pressure. Schedules are turned upside-down. Education is interrupted. And specific pressures unique to individual needs or circumstances are bearing in.
We are praying with our kids and families, too. Praying that God will bring peace to hearts and homes, that learning will continue, and that the grace of resilience be known amidst this time of disruption.
As negotiations continue and as schools stay closed, how can we support you beyond prayers? What do you need from your church family during this time? I invite you to reach out to myself or Leslie Sackett (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to talk about it. We want to do what we can to stand with our teachers, our students and our families during the strike and beyond. Let’s talk!
God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over Portland area teachers and all students and families during this strike; preserve, protect and sustain them in the midst of uncertainty and disruption; fortify all in this community to stand in love and work for justice; and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted from a Collect at Compline, BCP, 134)
The Rev. R. Scott Painter, Rector