The following statement was read by a kindergarten teacher at the Framingham School Committee meeting Wednesday night. It was then submitted to SOURCE as a letter to the editor.
Good evening. My name is Sarah McKeon. I am former FTA co president and kindergarten teacher at Dunning.
In the past, I have often stood at this microphone and talked to you about what is best for students and staff, as most often they go hand in hand. Tonight I am going to focus on the students, because they are what matter most.
I have serious concerns about the mayor’s decision to lower the number in terms of the budget.
I sat on the Unit A negotiating team and in good faith, we bargained for months, came to agreements, and voted through a new contract.
At all times, people on both side of the table were transparent and open to questions and suggestions, and in the end, we all felt the numbers we came up with were workable.
Why now the drastic drop?
The “trimming the fat,” as I’ve had it referred to in the chat groups, is the public school budget the fat you really want to trim? Because frankly, we’re pretty thin as it is.
We hear over and over again that we must do what’s best for students. When are we going to live that? When are we actually going to follow that?
Practice what we preach? Because taking away from an already strapped system is not going to help. It is going to hurt. And we are already hurting. The students, the ones on whom we base our future and our hopes and our efforts, the ones we are supposed to do what’s best for, are the ones hurting.
Smaller class sizes are a huge need. Every year we hear about ballooning classes of upwards of 25-30 students, even in our youngest grades. That is
completely inappropriate and impossible for the teacher to address or do their job effectively. We need more interventionists to support our struggling students. Since there is such a focus on numbers and growth, shouldn’t we be giving as much support as possible to these students?
The social and emotional needs of our students continues to skyrocket, with pressures to achieve. Our social workers and guidance counselors play an
integral role in supporting our students, and there have been staff members added throughout the district to support this.
Now, with the mayor’s proposed budget changes, positions stand to be cut,
or limited. Which will they be? Educators, aides and assistants, interventionists, social emotional team members? Are they the fat to be trimmed? Again, it is completely illogical to take away when what we need is to ADD IN.
Excuse me as I go all cliché here, but what we need is to mean what we say and say what we mean. We need to walk the walk and talk the talk. We are already lacking support for programs, classrooms, and staff. We need to be doing more to support the growth of our students, not hinder it. We need to respect the voices of educators and students as we continue to advocate for what they need. This is the part where yes, the needs of both groups are intertwined. We cannot continue to do our jobs with continual loss of support, both financial and otherwise. This is wrong.
Throughout the mayor’s campaign, her history as an educator was touted as a strength. I am hoping that she and her staff will truly reflect on that and consider what is needed to help the system, not harm it.
There may be many areas of the city where financial numbers can be tweaked, but it should not fall on the backs of our educational system or the students within it.
I implore you to commit to the superintendent’s budget, as it is based on information that he, his staff, and those of us in the schools, who truly experience the needs and challenges on a daily basis, have provided.
Our word is the one that should be trusted, and our students are the ones who should be reaping the rewards of a system that is properly budgeted and supported. Please do so.
Dunning Elementary teacher