Letter: Cutting teachers guts the core of Ridgefield’s education

To the Editor:

Cuts to the Board of Education budget should be as far away from the classroom as possible. Proposed .2 art teacher cuts across every elementary school in the name of “efficiency” provide no explanation as to how the same number of sections of art education can be fit into a schedule that is missing the equivalent of an entire day. Student anxiety is ever increasing in our district, yet one of the opportunities for students to embrace their creativity and experience an emotional outlet is being threatened. Piloted six-day schedules in elementary schools that allowed classroom teachers uninterrupted, rich collaboration will no longer be possible with this cut.

Cuts to a middle school team at ERMS are ill-conceived at a time when “personalized, individualized learning” is the mission of the Ridgefield Public Schools. How can we justify larger class sizes, and decreased attention to our vulnerable students in the name of efficiency? Why aren’t we embracing the opportunity to support our students who might need that extra dose of reading, writing or math help, rather than stretching the teachers and students with maximized class sizes?

The idea that a “writing center” model would replace the 1:1 conferencing we currently provide English students at RHS has not been explained nor supported with evidence.

A teacher who knows what and how the content was taught to that particular student, and who facilitates a student’s growth in both oral and written expression, is priceless. Further, if teachers’ conferencing time is cut, who will spend the many hours that English teachers spend working with students on college essays?

In the coming weeks, we will be proposing cuts that are farther away from the classroom and that do not gut the very core of a Ridgefield education — its teachers and students.

Jeanne Deming

President, NEA-Ridgefield