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[Susan notes: Effective combination of research and reality.]

Published in Palm Beach Post
11/01/2002

To the editor









The Oct. 14 Op-Ed article "Invest in better teachers, not smaller classes," by Charles P. Garcia, a Florida Board of Education member, cites research done by a University of Rochester economist, Erick Hanushek (actually, it's spelled Eric). Dr. Hanushek is well -known for his positions on school financing and class size. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, which never has had much good to say about public education or teachers. Mr. Garcia's characterization of Dr. Hanushek as an "unbiased expert" on class size and achievement is laughable.



Mr. Garcia glosses over what many dedicated teachers actually do. As an example, teachers who have 30 students in English and mathematics classes, who give homework and assignments, grade them at night and assist students by providing extra help after school and during their lunch breaks, would tell Mr. Garcia that there is a huge difference between a class of 30 and one of 25.



The five extra students per class, and assuming five classes per day, easily amounts to an additional six hours a week just dealing with the extra students. If Mr. Garcia, who apparently never has taught school, would, for about a year, walk in the shoes of teachers who do this daily, I would wager that he'd sing a different tune.



There also are studies that show that class size does make a difference in student achievement, and perhaps that is related to the tremendous amount of teacher turnover, especially during the first five years of teaching, when some studies report that more than 40 percent leave the profession. Maybe Mr. Garcia should get with Dr. Hanushek and calculate the real monetary and social cost of that on the teaching profession and student achievement.



Robert Kizlik, Associate Professor, Florida Atlantic University


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