Letter: Why are we cutting teachers yet keeping the consultants?

To the Editor:

The following is an abridged version of a statement that was read aloud to the Board of Education at its March 12 meeting:

With the potential for further reductions in the school budget by the Board of Finance, we continue to implore the BOE to continue to make cuts as far away from the classrooms and halls of Ridgefield Public Schools as possible. Why are we cutting teachers yet keeping consultants who have been in the district for years?

You may ask, how can we fund teachers, considering the constraints put upon us in the budget process? We would answer — by reducing the “nice to haves” from the budget; particularly in the technology and curriculum line items.

Teachers have benefited for many years from the consultancies that have been in the district. We have built capacity. Teachers are teachers of each other, not just their students. More experienced teachers are natural mentors to those that are less experienced. But this mentoring is getting harder and harder to accomplish when teachers are running to play catch-up for missed classroom time due to participation in embedded PD that takes them out of their classrooms.

A budget “crisis” such as the one we are experiencing is a challenge, but also an opportunity … a chance to evaluate what we value and pour our resources into. Do we value innovation for innovation’s sake over individuals? Today, we need teachers more than ever. We live in a rapidly changing society both for the better and for the worse. Teachers are the last line of defense for our children whether in an unpredicted emergency or the more predictable challenges faced by children and adolescents growing up in an ever-changing, challenging world.

The cost of this investment is undeniably high, but can a price be placed on the value of highly engaging, relevant, and personalized learning for all students?

Jeanne Deming

President, NEA-Ridgefield