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Report from the Classroom

MCHC Guest Opinion               September 19, 2003

Report from the classroom . . .

by Zelda Menard

Fall is here. Students of all ages have made their way back to school. But things are different this year.

They are returning to schools that have been gutted of many valuable teachers, paraprofessionals (assistants in classrooms) and support services. In Boston, 408 teachers remain laid off, while 329 paraprofessionals have not been called back yet. Last year, the library at several schools was run by a paraprofessional. Since most of these workers were laid off, students now aren’t able to use their school libraries. This is happening at the Blackstone Elementary School, the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and probably many other schools.

Many teachers are now working without an assistant in the classroom. At the kindergarten level in Boston this means that one teacher is responsible for socializing and educating 20 to 22 five year-olds. While this is possible, the attention and quality of instruction given to these students will not be the same as it was when two adults are in the classroom.

At the small alternative Boston public high school, El Centro de Cardenal, the 25% reduction in teachers means that students will not have science for the first quarter of the year. At the MLK, one teacher is teaching extra sections of math so all students can have a math class. Governor Romney said we wouldn’t cut any vital programs. Some may think that no student will be vitally injured by these budget cuts. Yet it is likely that they won’t come out of the experience with a first-class, high-quality education either. And that could affect the rest of their lives.

Zelda Menard teaches third grade in the Boston Public Schools.


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