It is getting harder and harder to not take sides in the El Centro Elementary District Board of Trustees' continuing dispute with its teachers.
The latest action that seems to be a shot at least partly aimed at the teachers is the cutting of 25 classified employees' jobs next school year. Among those 25 are teacher aides. The cuts were done to hire a mentor teacher for each school in the district to run a new reading program called "Open Court." That seems a bit of an incongruent trade-off, even if this is the greatest reading program ever concocted.
While in recent years the district schools have improved their standardized test scores, some remarkably so, the scores still must rise under state mandates. A good reading program might be a good idea. But teacher aides also are important to academic achievement. As teachers protested the cuts during a board meeting Tuesday, one teacher said the aides are "mentors, role models and second mothers or fathers." Many children in the district need some or all of those things. Overworked teachers can only give so much attention to their children, and aides are there to help ease the workload so teachers can concentrate on the most important matters.