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REDUCING CLASS SIZE

9/14/00

    America seems to finally know what we teachers have always known. Class size matters. In the last few years, a body of research has convinced most Americans, including most contenders for high public office, that class size reduction significantly improves student achievement in lasting ways. That is, the achievement gains are there the next time the test is taken.

    If we know that smaller class sizes improve achievement, why don’t we universally decrease class size? While a complete answer is complicated, the expense of hiring more teachers to instruct the same number of students is more than many communities can afford or are willing to spend. In some places and in some subject areas, even if a district were willing to make the financial effort to reduce class size, they might not be able to find the qualified teachers they wish to hire.

    Part of the solution this problem is so obvious and would be so painless to almost everyone - students and staff alike - that it receives little or no attention from the educationists who run our schools. Put the bureaucrats to work doing the important work of schools - teaching. Superintendents, deputy superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals, directors, assistant directors, chairpersons - we have people watching people who are watching people who are watching people..... and all of them seeing next to nothing vitally important to the education of children. All of these people were once teachers. All of them have been telling teachers how to do the work of teaching. They require no training, they claim to be up on the latest professional practice and they could be used in a district like Plainview-Old Bethpage to meaningfully reduce our class sizes without calling upon the taxpayers to pay one additional penny. In fact we could have smaller classes and save money in that most of these job titles pay considerably more than teachers receive.

    I’m not accusing the people doing these supervisory jobs of twiddling their thumbs. They work. Some work hard, doing frustrating thankless and often pointless tasks. I’m simply asking the question, which work is more important, helping children to achieve more by reducing class size or reporting to the supervisor who reports to the supervisor or reports to the supervisor....?

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