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Archive for Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Needed resources

February 19, 2003

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To the editor:

The nonsense aimed at fooling residents of Lawrence about closing elementary schools continues with Sunday's J-W ("Cost of staffing elementary schools"). The article states that the teacher-cost-per-student ranges from $6,033 to $2,831, implying that this disparity is inappropriate. Despite the fact that the figures shown cannot be calculated using statistics on enrollment and staffing available on the USD 497 Web site, there is a fundamental issue about whether all schools should have the same teacher-cost-per-student.

Schools with a low student-to-teacher ratio (the goal, according to many knowledgeable educators) have a high teacher-cost-per-student. This is exactly how it should be, because schools in Lawrence with low student-to-teacher ratios also have the most at-risk students who need more teacher time to improve their chances for success in life. They also typically have the highest percentage of special education teachers.

It is always the burden of the society as a whole to provide extra resources for those less fortunate, the ultimate goal being to help people help themselves. It starts with education, and it means there will be disparities. To imply that school consolidation will eliminate these disparities is short-sighted or deliberately misleading, because there are federal mandates that require extra teachers for such things as remedial math and reading.

School consolidation will not fix this. So, shall we pay now to "ensure all students learn academic and life skills to reach their maximum potentials" (one of USD 497 goals), or pay later?

Gwen Macpherson,

Lawrence

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