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Policy attacks on class size

January 7, 2011

EdWeek republished this article from the Dallas Morning News detailing the attacks on class size in Texas.  The article seems to be filled with the ideas of “experts”, legislators, and those supporting faulty “research” in an attempt to rhetorically minimize the effects of class room size on student learning.

Due to my curiosity on my students’ views, I read this article with a class I was working with yesterday morning. We then took an informal verbal survey and, overwhelmingly, students recommended lower class sizes as a main factor in any attempt to help them achieve and learn more. When I brought up the question of teacher quality in relation to class room size they quickly pointed out, in disapproval, that the article quoted a Texas superintendent who says,

A bad teacher with 15 students is just as bad as with 25 students.

Students in the class were frustrated that the article did not talk about the effect of class room size on teachers who are, in a few students’ words, “…mediocre, in terms of quality, going up to very good, and excellent.” The students, in conversation, doubted that a class size change between 15 and 25 students is negligible, even with a struggling teacher. Several students also voiced concern that this could be used to “get the wedge in the door” and start increasing class sizes beyond just a few students.

This fits into a worsening national environment in regards to funding anything public right now coupled with viscious attacks on workers’ rights. With austerity budget bullies licking their lips and sharpening their knives, the gloves are clearly off in public education .

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2011 11:43 am

    This is a good post, but these are not research-based attacks on class size; the research overwhelmingly supports smaller classes. Indeed, according to the Institute of Education Sciences, it is one of only a few reforms that have been proven to work through rigorous evidence. The corporate privateers who are now driving education policy in this country oppose class size reduction, for their own political reasons. Oddly enough, they support and finance charter schools that often feature smaller classes as their most attractive aspect, and usually send their own children to private schools or well-funded suburban school systems with smaller classes.

  2. markfriedman1 permalink
    January 7, 2011 12:00 pm


    Thank you for the feedback. I didn’t intend to state that the article’s mention of legislators and so called “experts” were legitimate in their unsupported findings. In reading over what I wrote, I saw that it was necessary to edit and adjust the post as such to accurately critique the problems in the EdWeek Class Size article. Here’s to proofreading!

  3. phillipmarlowe permalink
    January 8, 2011 1:44 am

    Obama’s girls have small classes over at Sidwell Friends:

    Class Groupings

    All classes, with the exception of one third grade and one fourth grade, have team teachers. Individual class sizes range from one teacher for every ten students in the lower grades to one teacher for every 16 students in some fourth grade classes.

  4. January 10, 2011 6:28 pm

    Obama was recently quoted as saying that no, he did not believe his girls could get a quality education in the DC public schools. And yet the myth endures that it is an “effective teacher,” and not “class size,” which truly matters. How many of those “effective teachers” in charter schools and private schools with class size caps of 15 would be quite so effective in a high school class with 34 students, especially if some of those students are 19, 20, or 21 years old?

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