In your opinion, which school year is the most critical?
Is it kindergarten, when a child’s love for learning and education is established, and they acquire the basic skills that will propel them successfully through their remaining school years?
Or perhaps it is first grade, when the critical building block of reading is firmly established, which will determine either future success or failure for upcoming school years.
Many would argue for third grade being the most critical, especially considering that the first state benchmark exam is administered, and more guidance and instruction is needed as students transition into more advanced work.
Or maybe you think seventh grade is a critical period, when students are not only being faced with more difficult junior high coursework, but also higher expectations for homework, all while the junior high battles over self-esteem and motivation are being waged.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of critical points throughout a child’s educational experience. I’m sure you formulated some of your own thoughts as you read through the list.
Here is the question I would like the school board to address:
How can one teacher possibly hope to provide an excellent education for all children, when one teacher is responsible for navigating all of the critical periods for all of the children?
Imagine for a moment how much focus and attention each grade will receive in any given day when the sole teacher is responsible for nine grades. (This assumes that all students are at grade level, such as all kindergartners being ready when they begin school, and that there are no eighth-graders doing above-level work). Then imagine further how much of that grade-level attention will become individual attention, when there are 27 to 30 other students.
This is exactly what is being suggested for children at the Moose Pass School in the current round of budget cuts.
I’d like the school board to propose for us which subjects should be the first to be left behind, because a well-rounded education simply isn’t possible in this situation.
There are at least the three core areas of reading, writing and math; I’m guessing the state would also like them to learn science and social studies. Oh, and I suppose spelling and vocabulary and probably health and safety are pretty important, too, but let’s just work with the basic five for a moment.
If we have five basic subjects and nine grades, then we’re looking at 45 classes that must be taught. How many hours are in a school day? And should the children be allowed a lunch and recess break? And will the district require thorough review and assessment to be made, as well?
Forgive me my sarcasm, but you do the math. What is being proposed for the Moose Pass School simply does not provide for an equal opportunity in education for our students. Our K-8 school currently has a principal one day a week and two teachers.
Our teachers provide excellent instruction for our children and work far more hours than they are paid to manage the challenge of having four grades in one classroom. And where the budget has left our school behind, parents and community members have stepped in to fill in the gaps.
We have provided in numerous ways for the education of our community’s children: art, music, drama, public speaking, sports, Battle of the Books, classroom help, field trip transportation and funding the list goes on.
But the proposal to remove one of our two teachers leaves a void that parents and community members simply cannot and should not have to fill: that of providing an equal education by a certified teacher for all of our students.
We are asking the board to do its part to provide an equal education for all students in this district and not approve a budget that will take one of our teachers out of our school. It’s laughable enough that we only have a principal one day of the week.
Leaving the Moose Pass School with only one teacher is simply one thing: a recipe for disaster for our students. Our children’s education and future success are in their hands.
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