28 August 2009

My kid's class has too many kids!

*Edit 9/6/09* I've been remiss in not updating you. Good news! They made a new class for our grade. As soon as I sent the letter below, I got a reply from the superintendent saying that I should talk to our principal. There was a letter from him in my child's classwork folder saying they were creating another class. Hooray!


This is what I wrote this morning.

Open letter to Dr. Chris King, Superintendent of Boulder Valley Schools, and the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education:

As a parent of a child attending third grade at Crest View Elementary this year, I am acutely aware of the difficulties you face: in particular those of balancing the Boulder Valley School District's budgetary concerns with the vast need for the rich resources the Boulder Valley School District has to offer. We in Boulder have set a high bar in the educational community, and in the problems we continually join to
address and correct in our schools. As a parent at a large elementary school that seems to be growing every day, I am grateful for the wide range of expertise and enrichment my daughter has been able to receive at Crest View. Crest View has proved a great resource for our family. Our daughter has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and nearly every teacher she has encountered at Crest View has supported her education and enrichment.

Now that my child's class roster contains 32 children, however, I am concerned that my child, who has special needs (sensory integration and vision issues, along with difficulty tuning out distractions) will find having so many kids in one room an obstacle to being able to pay attention in the classroom. One day this past week, her homework was to list a few wishes about school. She wrote, "I wish I could sit next to someone quieter" (she's at a cluster of six desks) and "I wish we had no squeaky doors."

Parents and teachers have told me Ms. Baxter is considered a part-time addition to the third-grade teaching staff, and so the ratio per teacher is considered by the district to be 25-to-1, but I fear that statistic does not reflect the reality of keeping 32 kids at once moving in a steady stream through the study, work, eating, and playing that fill their 6.5 hours at school each day. Only a subset of their time involves
the children being pulled out into smaller groups. Each third-grade classroom has 31 or 32 kids; the fact is, it takes more time to get 32 kids to wash their hands before snack and lunch. When it's snowy, out of 32 kids, more are going to need help with boots and jackets. Of course, these class sizes will demand far more from the teacher at conference times. And more children need that one-on-one time with their primary teacher every day, something for which there is no substitute. Some kids are fine -- you can just see they know how to get their needs met and get their work done. But my child has benefited so much more from her classroom time when she has had that one-on-one time and been able to develop a relationship with her teacher. I don't want her and the other kids to lose their access to their teachers; the kids are at an age when their teachers' understanding and encouragement may make all the difference in whether they become more or less engaged in their schooling in the future.

Dr. King, I urge you and the Board of Education to consider add another third-grade classroom at Crest View immediately. Our neighborhood is growing, and will continue to grow as new families move or relocate from other neighborhoods into the new houses being built near the existing Four Mile Creek development at 47th and Jay Road. As the economy rebounds, more families with young children will be able to afford housing in the neighborhoods surrounding Crest View, which will drive further infill in the area as well.

We are only going to continue to need more teaching and other resources at Crest View, yet I believe our community is prepared to do what they can to support their school. One of the reasons we chose to stay at our neighborhood school was the high caliber and tremendous commitment of the community toward Crest View. I am still impressed. I contribute time in the classroom with the kids and additional volunteer work on the Garden to Table program, and am certain I'm not the only parent or community member who relishes these opportunities to give back. I also believe this means you could ask us, the Crest View community, and we would be there for you with our energy and expertise to help you find and implement solutions to these problems. We are all talented and smart people who have a huge stake in our school. I hope we can all work together on finding the most creative ways to maximize our limited resources, and I hope we can act quickly for the sake of relieving the children and their teachers from the pressures they are facing every day.

No comments: