"Teacher for a Day” gives Rives opportunity to connect with members

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“Teacher for a Day” in Portland Public Schools provided AFT-Oregon President David Rives with the opportunity to meet Local 111 (PFSP) members at Roosevelt High School, and observe their daily routine at a K-12 school. Public leaders and those such as Rives who serve on public boards were invited to spend time in a classroom with teachers and educational assistants.

“The goal of the program is to give public leaders a better understanding of the daily challenges our schools face, including the continued decline in classified positions in the schools and its effect on students,” said Rives, who holds a position on the Oregon Education Investment Board. “It’s important for those serving in Salem to see the “human aspect” of public education when deciding on student assessment measures, or determining funding levels for our schools.”

Caton Lyles, a Special Education Assistant was one member who Rives observed would work with students in the class as needed, but was not assigned to work solely with a specific teacher or classroom. “My job is to work with kids who can be disruptive in class,” said Lyles. “I assist in all classrooms, and go where I am called.”

“In addition to teachers, it was great to see the prominent role that classified members play in providing a quality educational experience for students,” said Rives. “Lyles and other education assistants help to maintain a peaceful classroom environment for the teacher and students. They are also there to help when a student needs extra help with a lesson, without disruption for others in the class.”

Roosevelt High School, which had struggled for decades in graduation rates, received a bump in assistance in recent years. In 2010, the school was awarded a $7.7-million federal grant under an Obama administration package to help reverse chronic low achievement through federally mandated strategies. The school is also one of three area high schools that will undergo an extensive renovation, thanks to the generous $482-million bond measure approved by Portland voters in November 2012.