Union refusing to give in when it comes to class sizes

Union refusing to give in when it comes to class sizes »Play Video
Members of the teachers union meet Friday to plan for the worst. Negotiations between the district and the union have yet to produce a deal, and the two sides haven't set a time to meet with a state mediator again.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- They met for 12 hours, but now the two sides seem even further apart.

Shannon Baker is a teacher and member of the union bargaining team. She's willing to do whatever it takes to reduce class sizes district-wide.

Last year she had 25 students. This year she has 31.

"The difference is it is impossible to get around to every child. I think Portland parents and teachers expect the best instruction in the classroom and what that means in elementary is individualized instruction," Baker said.

But Baker says there's simply too many kids for her to sit down with each of them one at a time. Now she says children who were already struggling are just falling further and further behind.

So the union says they'll go on strike if they have to, worried they'll lose teachers like Baker if they don't act now.

"If I keep getting these huge class sizes and feel ineffective as a teacher, that would be devastating for me to have to leave," Baker said.

The union says it has a solution - hire 175 new teachers to reduce class sizes. The district only will promise to keep class sizes where they are now.

The district did not return calls for comment Friday.

The two sides haven't set a time to sit down with the state mediator again.