Fix ELL problem

Statistics provided by the New Hampshire Department of Education state that as of Oct. 1, 2016, the Nashua School District employed one teacher for every 12.7 students. The statewide ratio at the time was one teacher for every 11.9 students.

Multiple sources indicate the nationwide average for public schools is one teacher for every 16 students.

Therefore, we find recent reports from Nashua educators regarding the number of teachers working with English Language Learner students quite alarming. These are students for whom English is not their native tongue.

“In other districts I’ve worked in, the largest case load I ever had was 28 students. Now, I have 73 students. And that is challenging,” Bicentennial Elementary School English Language Learner teacher Jenna Hutchinson said during a recent Nashua Board of Education meeting.

“I think we all understand that our ELL program is bulging at the seams. And we need to do better for our kids, and to support our teachers,” Director of Student Services Robert Cioppa added.

We don’t claim to be experts in the field of education, but it seems logical to us that these ELL students and their teachers are in need of reinforcements.

English Language Learners in Nashua now constitute more than 10 percent of the student body. There are more than 50 native languages for the ELL students, with Spanish and Portuguese being the most prevalent. A few of the other native languages include Telugu, Vietnamese, Tamil, and Arabic.

In September 2016, by a slim 8-7 margin, Nashua Board of Aldermen members voted to become a “Welcoming City.” One portion of this, listed on the city’s website, states this should foster an in which “all people including immigrant newcomers are welcome, accepted and integrated.”

Regardless of the motivation behind “Welcoming City,” elected officials owe the resulting immigrants the opportunity to see their children properly educated. We do not see how this is possible when their teachers report being outnumbered by ratios as high as 73 to 1.

Mayor Jim Donchess told our reporter he plans to allocate funding for more ELL teachers in his new budget proposal. We encourage him to do so.