Svi Shapiro: Berger’s concern

June 21, 2014 

Regarding the June 8 news article “Berger cites research on TAs”: I was amused to read Sen. Phil Berger’s selective use of educational research to justify cutting more than 7,000 teaching assistants from early grades in our public schools. His argument that such assistants do not raise standardized test scores is surely the most superficial way to judge educational progress for young children.

Such shallow justification ignores the importance of the social and emotional development of children and the vital role of adult attention and interaction in the classroom to enhancing this process, one that every teacher and parent knows can only be harmed by reducing the number of adults engaged with our children’s education.

Actually if Berger were concerned about educational research and children’s success in school, he would have noted the mountain of evidence that links educational achievement to poverty and economic insecurity. It might cause him to take a look at the harm done to the most vulnerable of our children by denying families the expansion of Medicaid, restricting disability benefits, cutting off unemployment benefits and now by advocating laying off thousands of poorly paid teaching assistants.

I see nothing in Berger’s educational prescriptions to suggest our children’s welfare is his real concern.

Svi Shapiro

Professor of Education, UNC-Greensboro

Greensboro

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