Teacher cut devastating

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My husband and I live in Moose Pass with our two young sons. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is proposing yet another serious cut for Moose Pass School by eliminating a teacher. This would not be quite so critical for one of the big central peninsula schools; but in our small, rural school, this cut is absolutely devastating.

For Moose Pass School, this will mean:

· One teacher will be solely responsible for the education — not to mention safety, health, and well-being — of the entire student body: an estimated 28 children, ages 5 to 14.

· One teacher will be attempting to teach nine different grade levels, each with its own mandated curriculum. (Imagine the kindergartner who doesn’t know how to tie his shoes or hold his pencil trying to learn next to the sixth grade or even an eighth-grade student trying to grasp the Pythagorean theorem.)

· One teacher will be held accountable for all students’ mastery — from K through eighth grade — of the Alaska State Standards and held to the same expectations for student standardized test scores as the teacher who has only one or two grade levels in a classroom.

Even though Moose Pass School’s enrollment narrowly exceeds the district’s pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) for one teacher, we are still slated for only one teacher for the coming school year. This problem won’t go away until the school district and the school board address the serious problem of the blanket PTR for all schools. In order to ensure an equitable education for all the district’s children, there definitely needs to be a large school PTR and a small school PTR: It is critical that small rural schools with three or more grade levels in a classroom have much lower PTR guidelines in order to provide adequate classroom management and instruction.

I feel qualified to speak about this issue as a certified teacher. Before starting a family, I taught for several years at Moose Pass School. I taught fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders every subject by myself. It was an extremely demanding challenge to meet the needs of all my students — from the special needs fifth-grader to the gifted eighth-grader — on a daily basis.

The idea that one teacher can and should teach more than twice that number of grade levels is unbelievably unrealistic and extremely inequitable.

Our older son will be entering kindergarten this fall. He and his classmates deserve an excellent education just as much as the new kindergartners in Soldotna or Kenai deserve that right.

The district’s proposed cut not only destroys the possibility of an excellent education, it goes so far as to withhold an equitable education for our children here in Moose Pass.

Heather Lindquist

Moose Pass

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