Adult to Student Ratio
By Marie Dolson, Special Education Teacher from Portland, OR
There is no way to creatively overcome the challenges of being a special education case manager to 42 students, with varying needs, in a single school year. My job requires a steadfast, head down, 2–3 additional hours every night work ethic. I have been an educator in the Portland region for 28 years as a certified teacher and 3 years as an education assistant.
Each year the students’ needs seem to increase as the funding decreases. The testing and paperwork requirements increase as the staffing numbers decrease. I work with speech pathologists and occupational therapists who have 80+ students on their caseloads, which leaves no time for collaboration that would improve student learning.
“I am dedicated. I am always in compliance. But I leave work every day thinking about everything that didn’t get done and every child’s need that will still be there tomorrow.”
The classroom teachers are overwhelmed with large classes, new initiatives, and forever changing curricular expectations- the last thing they have time for is meeting with me to discuss students’ needs. The educational assistants are spread so thin, they run between 7–8 classrooms trying to support my neediest children, yet no one is receiving sufficient support, neither adults nor students.
Our team works hard to support our students, but the adult to student ratio is a killer. I am dedicated. I am always in compliance. But I leave work every day thinking about everything that didn’t get done and every child’s need that will still be there tomorrow.
Marie Dolson is a Special Education Teacher in Portland, OR. #OREducatorVoices