Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Cuts shouldn’t affect education

As a retired teacher (over 20 years as an elementary school classroom teacher and five years as a supplemental literacy teacher in Bristol, Vt.), I am concerned about the future of education during and after the pandemic crisis.
I know from my own experience that there are many children in our communities who struggle, both academically, and in other areas of their lives. Even when school is open they face many challenges. My former colleagues who are still teaching are working incredibly hard to stay connected to their students, and teach them.
But when this is over, and the schools reopen, the needs are going to be even bigger. Children who began this period of social isolation with academic gaps will be even further behind. Those with social and emotional struggles will need additional support to re-enter group life. And there will be families whose changed economic situation  will create added stress for students. There will be challenges for all but the wealthiest families.
Clearly, there will be less money from taxpayers for schools. There will have to be cuts. The cuts should be those with the least direct impact on children. During my years in Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (now Mount Abraham Unified School District), and in the three years since I retired, cuts were made. The cuts consistently came from direct teaching staff, rather than administrators. When I began at Bristol Elementary School in the fall of 2012, the supplementary literacy staff of two teachers and three experienced instructional assistants all had full schedules working directly with students. This year, supplemental literacy consists of only one teacher, but there are several layers of administrators above her, none of whom provide direct services to children. The population of the school has remained constant.
That is only one school, in one district. But I sincerely hope that when the belt tightening comes, it will be in the form of scaling back management and administration, not desperately needed support for our children.
Michele S. Lowy
Middlebury
 

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