Letter to the Editor: We need smaller class sizes in our schools

Dear Editor:

I’m a small business owner and a mom of a soon to be 6th grader and future Kindergarten student at Mountlake Terrace Elementary. Education is very important to our family, but I never envisioned I’d become an education activist. However, the state of education funding in our district and in Washington State has me deeply concerned. We, the parents, need to take action so that our kids get the education they deserve.

Do you know the projected class sizes for your child’s class for next year? The District has staffed schools “conservatively” for next year, so it’s likely that currently class sizes are projected to be higher for next year than they are this year. For example, at Mountlake Terrace Elementary the current projected class size information I have is 30 or more students for 6th grade in 2017-18. Over thirty students in one class are too many for teachers to educate our students effectively.

Our kids won’t get the individual attention they need and deserve! While I have been told by our principal that these numbers will go up and down until school starts in the fall, and will continue to go up and down during the school year, starting at more than 30 students in a classroom is unacceptable.

Your child’s class could very well be in the same situation. I urge you to ask your principal about class size projections for your school so that you can be informed and so that concerned parents can work together for smaller class sizes for our kids!

Our district needs to focus resources on keeping classes at reasonable sizes and providing the resources necessary to educate all students, instead of hiring more positions for the district office which do not directly impact students. Parents at Mountlake Terrace Elementary have been emailing the Edmonds School District about the projected size of 6th grades classes for next year. Justin Irish, the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary School, in responding to MTE parent letters said that the district and our principal “always keep students’ safety and learning at the forefront of decision making.”

Later in the letter, he goes on to say, “Additionally, as you may be aware, the State Legislature has not adopted a budget. Our funding for the 2017-18 school year has not been finalized. It is far too early for any final decision to be made at any school across the District, including Mountlake Terrace Elementary.” That last line gives me hope. Parents are doing the right thing by emailing Justin Irish. We need to continue emailing the decision makers in the District.

Overcrowded classes, even with extra paraeducators to provide extra help in the class, are not what is best for our kids. Large class sizes might be acceptable for the district and state, but it is unacceptable for our students. We need to tell ESD that we care about class sizes in our schools. Washington State is required to fully fund our public schools during this legislative session. We need to make sure the district knows we expect them to spend those funds on classroom teachers and the other staff who support our kids like librarians, counselors and nurses so that our kids get the education and support they deserve.

ESD students need parents from every school, every grade level and every part of the community to write the district and demand that they lower our class sizes. This is a problem for our entire district. Parents and members of the Edmonds School District community have the power to positively impact our children’s’ learning experience. I feel we have more power than teachers and leaders at our children’s schools because we are the voters who elect school board members and pass local levies.

I have created a website to make it easy for parents and members of our community to voice similar concerns. Please visit my website and share it with other parents and members of our community.

Brandy Houllahan

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