Letter from CPS Parent Kelly Dolan to the school committee re: FY16 budget: (Posted with author permission. Note useful links to research on class size.)
Hello members of the School Committee-
Thank you so much for the opportunity to submit suggestions and opinions for priorities for the school district.
I am very concerned about the recent trend of budget dollars spent on high priced consultants with no accountability, ineffective instructional leadership and additional administrative positions. I would like to see the FY2015 budget developed with more funding focused on classrooms and programs that directly impact our children on a daily basis.
First priority should be on class size. Given the wide diversity of students in each classroom it is very difficult to effectively teach so many kids, especially during the very important JK-3rd grade. There is no reason that we should have classrooms of more than 12-15 kids with a good, certified teacher. We as a community would spend far less on intervention programs after the 3rd grade as many more kids would get the reading and study skills they need at an early age. Most CPS teachers are very good- but we are not giving them the tools to be effective when we give them such a wide range of students to teach, many with discipline issues, and then take the teachers out of the classroom frequently for training, testing, etc. With a manageable class size teachers could focus more on the struggling students, provide instructional challenges for higher performing children, transition new teachers more effectively and decrease discipline issues which would improve school climate.
There is so much credible evidence related to class size at the elementary level and for certain disadvantaged demographics that it should be a high priority, non negotiable standard for every Cambridge child in JK-3rd grade.. We should restructure our budget or get increased funding from the city to make this a standard in CPS elementary schools.
Here are just some of the examples of research based analysis.
We need to stop debating various questionable new programs and get back to fully supporting the current excellent foundation we have with our teachers and programs in CPS with fact based evidence for successful results.
Please change the focus of the budget to support our children more, and the administration less.
Kelly A. Dolan
1 College Grad
1 College Junior
and one CPS 4th grader