Last Updated on November 4, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: Portland’s Russian Immersion Program Struggles with Unmanageable Class Sizes and Teacher Shortages
Portland’s Russian immersion elementary program, located at Kelly Elementary in Southeast Portland, is facing significant challenges due to unmanageable class sizes and a severe shortage of teachers. The program offers a unique opportunity for students to become fully bilingual, but these issues are threatening the quality of education and the program’s future.
Kindergarten teacher Elena Dudareva emphasizes the crucial need for smaller class sizes, emphasizing that a maximum of 20 students is ideal due to the demands of teaching in two languages. Unfortunately, the reality is far from ideal, as Yulia Brooks, a second-grade teacher, shares her struggle coping with a class size of 30 students. These large class sizes limit the effectiveness of individualized attention and hinder the provision of quality education.
Adding to the already challenging situation is the influx of young Ukrainian refugees. Many of these students arrive with no language skills, making it necessary to provide additional support to help them adapt to the Russian immersion program. Unfortunately, the existing teacher shortage makes it difficult for the program to meet their unique needs adequately.
Disturbingly, despite raising concerns regarding class sizes and teacher shortages with the district seven years ago, the teachers claim that their pleas have gone unanswered. Instead of addressing these critical issues, the district has continued to cut teachers, exacerbating an already strained program.
In response to the district’s inaction and the deteriorating state of the program, teachers have decided to stage a strike. They are demanding an agreement that addresses the urgent problems of class size and teacher shortage. Recognizing the detrimental impact on students’ education and their desire to preserve the Russian immersion program’s integrity, the teachers feel they have no choice but to take this drastic step.
The strike serves as a rallying cry to raise awareness about the challenges these teachers face daily. It is a plea to the district to prioritize the future of the Russian immersion program and the academic success of its students.
In conclusion, Portland’s Russian immersion elementary program at Kelly Elementary is confronting immense difficulties due to unmanageable class sizes, a lack of teachers, and an overwhelming influx of young Ukrainian refugees. Teachers have been left with no alternative but to go on strike to draw attention to these pressing issues. Let us hope that their efforts pave the way for positive changes that will ensure the program’s continued success and preserve the unique opportunities it provides for students.