We are writing to express our strong disagreement with the proposed reduction of an MHS English teacher position in the Mamaroneck Superintendent’s current budget plan. Even in this most difficult financial year, we cannot condone cutting staff from this core subject area, even if it does bring the number of students taught per teacher in line with other subjects.
English is not like other subjects. It provides the central opportunity for students to learn to write well. Last year’s budget cuts increased teachers’ student loads from about 80 to over 100. Eliminating yet another position will push that number toward 120. How can we expect teachers to give pertinent, frequent, and personalized feedback on student writing when, over the course of two years, their workload will have increased by 50% (from 80 to 120 pupils)? We have already had teachers tell us that they cannot assign as much writing now with the 25% increase in students from last year. That is a pity; to make the situation worse would be a disaster.
Last year, English teachers and their students lost the writing conference period that allowed time for one-on-one consultations (each teacher took on an additional section of students instead). If class size increases, with each teacher managing 117 – 120 students, it is almost inconceivable that English teachers will ever be able to meet with all the students who need their help on writing assignments.
We are a group of parents who have been working for the past three years to support increased rigor in our district’s English and writing programs, in response to many years of a perceived lack of consistency across grade level, dearth of writing assignments, and limited teacher feedback in middle and high school. Our students simply cannot risk the academic fallout from any further reductions to our high school English Department. The Board of Education must find something – anything – else to cut.
Parents and students are counting on Mamaroneck High School to keep English, one of our core disciplines, vital and effective, and inspiring.
The English Project
Patty Horing, group organizer
Jean Marie Stein
Laurie Rubin Spangle