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Budget Wrangling Could Leave NM Classes Bursting at Seams

February 9, 2009

Bernalillo, NM - Classrooms in New Mexico could soon be "super-sized." Budget wrangling in Santa Fe and tough economic times all over could add up to more crowded classrooms, and educators are concerned

Bobbie Stratton is a special education teacher at Algodones Elementary, Bernalillo. She says she has heard talk of increasing the number of students who can be in one classroom without a teacher's assistant. She worries that in many classrooms, crowding raises safety issues.

"We had a kindergartner one time put scissors in the electrical socket. The more students you have, the more likely something like that is going to happen. It's just a danger."

Stratton's school strives for full inclusion of special-needs students in classrooms, she says. Although that is beneficial for students, she warns that it becomes harder as class sizes increase.

"They want people to do inclusion, and then they tell us they want to raise the classroom numbers? I don't think it's fair. I don't think it's fair to the children. I don't think it's fair to the teachers."

Those who support cuts to education say sacrifices need to be made across the board to make ends meet. Stratton, however, hopes that as lawmakers tangle over the budget they will look at students as more than just numbers on a piece of paper.

More information on education and the legislature can be found at nea-nm.typepad.com/hotline/.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM