School Aides are Necessary

By Sara Bowman, Elementary School Teacher from Eugene, OR

Teaching is the most wonderful job. It is a profession where I can come home and say, I taught someone to read today — I changed a child’s life today. You see students’ faces light up and know how proud they feel, and that is the greatest reward ever. I have been teaching for over 20 years now, and currently teach in Springfield as a facilitating teacher. I don’t have my own classroom, but work in primary classrooms to help support instruction due to large class sizes of 32–35 students.

There is so much that these kids need. If we were to have more budget cuts, we would likely lose our educational assistants as well as my position as a facilitating teacher. If you were to cut these positions, the students would struggle even more to be successful. It would reach the point that we would be just housing kids 8 hours a day. Do we want to educate these kids or do we want to house them?

I used to teach in a very similar school in another state: Title 1, 95% free lunch, foster system, parents in correctional institutions, many ELL students. However, the class sizes there were limited to 21 or 22 students. With that number, I could meet their needs on a personal level. I could find time to give them 1–1 attention, and when I had kids that were having a hard day, I was able to address that need instead of just sending them to the office. I have first hand experience that when you have a smaller class size it is much better for students in so many ways.

I really hope that our goal as a public school system is to promote the development of wonderful contributing citizens. I would think that this is the idea behind all of this.

The person who will cure cancer might be in my classroom, and right now she is having problems learning to read. What happens if we don’t address her needs because of class size or lack of reading support?

Sara Bowman is a facilitating teacher in Eugene, Oregon.

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