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[Susan notes: A teacher makes a plea against increasing class size. We can hope somebody is listening. The director of the Education Department's Office of Federal and State Accountability's rationale is classic corporatise: 'It is about giving districts the flexibility in terms of staffing.']

Published in Post and Courier
10/30/2013

To the editor

Re: S.C. Education Department proposes eliminating class size maximums for many grades, subjects. Only someone who's never taught in Public Schools could fail to understand the true importance and ultimate effect of class size on the education of our most precious resource, our children (do the quality and effectiveness of service received in a restaurant vary, depending on whether your waiter has 10 tables or 15?). Usually, these people who say that class size doesn't matter, are educational dilettantes on their way to somewhere else. Most have attended college, some even have an advanced degree. They might have taught at, say, West Point. There, ultra-strict behavior monitoring, discipline, very-tight course supervision, make most types of misbehavior almost impossible. Also, they might have taught at schools where behavior problems were simply passed-off to another school. More children equals more troubled students.



In forming a group dealing with some aspect of education, at least one active-duty classroom, public school teacher is needed. Otherwise, your efforts are doomed.



Problem kids are not usually from military academies, charter schools, church schools, Asian and Scandinavian countries. They are more likely kids from poverty, who start out behind, needing to catch up.



The United States is one of few developed countries trying to educate the entire populace. Most developed countries don't have significant minority populations. Most don't, as well, have a significant poverty problem (which, in the United States, leaves a vast, wide income gap).

Why this push allowing larger classes now? Might it have something to do with economics? Let's see: You have 90 math students (30 for each teacher is not an easy load), being taught by three teachers. Then you raise the class size to 45: voila, you've cut one F.T.E. and "saved" that teacher's salary (careful: politicians are involved; you can bet that money will not stay in the educational system).

Flip Jones


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