Instability Affects Students
By Judy Christensen, Educational Assistant in Grants Pass, OR
I have been an Education Assistant in Grants Pass for thirty years. I first started as an EA when my son was in the fifth grade. My official duties were teaching poetry and helping with writing instruction, but I also assisted the teacher with monitoring the classroom.
Grants Pass is a high poverty area and this can disrupt home life for students. I’m talking about families working multiple jobs, single parent households, and in some extreme circumstances, families that are homeless. I have seen this cause all sorts of stability issues and many times turn into serious behavioral problems for the students.Last year, the fifth grade classes had thirty-four and thirty-five students. I am grateful to be able to work with the students as much as I can for the short amount of time I am with them, but there is still so much more support needed.
It is especially hard for students that have been uprooted three, four, sometimes five times from previous schools.
Last year in particular, one student arrived in spring and could only read nine words per minute. He needs serious one-on-one attention but because of a lack of resources there wasn’t any time to catch him up. I also worry about the middle of the class students. They have almost no time devoted to them but they are not low enough on the scale to get pulled out for extra help.
We need more funding for smaller class sizes and additional aides. If it doesn’t happen then I worry things will only get worse.
Judy Christensen is an Education Assistant in Grants Pass, Oregon.