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Letter to the Editor

September 24, 2007

Too many students in this Greenbriar Elementary classroom



To the editor:

I am a concerned grandparent of a child in Greenbrier Elementary School. I am also an educator living in the state of New Jersey. I have 30-plus years in the public schools and many years in higher education instructing our future teachers in the classroom and out in the field.

Upon learning that my grandchild has 31 students in her first-grade classroom, I was appalled. As I thought about the multitude of research that has been done on the importance of small class size, I found it amazing that Maryland was willing to risk the education of 62 first grade children. The research from Project Star (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) in Tennessee showed that students in K-3 who were placed in classrooms with small class sizes outperformed their peers in regular classes which had a maximum of 25 students.

The No Child Left Behind act also identified small class size as a way in which to evaluate the quality of a child's education. There is only so much any teacher can accomplish in a classroom of 31 students, no matter how highly qualified she/he may be.

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I understand the problems of overcrowding and waiting for the completion of a new school. However, I am unsure why the solutions of either adding another teacher or using portable classrooms were not put in place rather than risk the education of these students.

I also understand that the school requests and uses any parent who volunteers. In fact, the school Web site states: Many volunteers prefer to tutor in reading or math or serve as classroom assistants. I understand that parents are well-meaning, but they do not necessarily have the teaching skills necessary to tutor in reading or math, even at a first-grade level. Teachers require education, training and mentoring. Not everyone is capable of teaching.

I am disappointed in what I have seen thus far and hope that before the school year goes on any further, Washington County will look at what they can do for the sake of these children.

Their Web site claims an elementary average class size of 20:1. First grade is a vital step in the education process. Changes can be put in place so that the education of these children can be the best that you have to offer.

Susan Allyn
Lanoka Harbor, N.J.

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