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Thursday, September 20, 2012

To those who teach, class size does matter

From the Wichita Peace and Freedom Party Examiner;

When it comes to education reform, experts like to site statistics. But reality is far different for those teachers who actually do the work. I’ve been working at in the Wichita Public School system as a substitute teacher and I have seen, first hand, the effect of these budget cuts and larger class sizes. Many of the experts don’t actually teach. They run studies and then cite them, while the rest of us are stuck with reality to deal with.
For example, many experts are claiming that larger class sizes don’t matter.
Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney cited a study of several countries by McKinsey & Co. Romney concluded, "it's not the classroom size that's driving the success of those school systems," according to MSNBC.
The MSNBC article also goes on to talk about those who claim that teachers unions are just trying to save jobs rather than promote what is best for the classroom.
In Kansas, Sam Brownback has cut education funding causing school systems to cut their teaching staff and increase classroom size. Teachers find it frustrating to have to spend much of their time dealing with trouble makers in these large classes and they have less time to teach.
“We have classrooms that are ridiculously overcrowded,” said Kate Hurt, a teacher from the Wichita School district, during a panel discussion, reported last July in the Wichita Peace and Freedom Examiner.
She added that the cuts have caused lots of teacher firings, along with anxiety for the teachers who aren’t fired as they worry about their jobs being cut every year.
For the politicians, it seems to be a case of education on the cheap. The arguments are that class size doesn’t matter and the focus should be on quality teachers that can handle the larger class sizes. But people need to question whether students are best served by stressed out teachers and class sizes that allow less individual attention for those students who need that?
Unions in general are not very popular right now, so teacher union bashing is now the trendy thing” to do. But this does not help the students. The idea of demoralizing the experienced teachers we have and just replacing them with new teachers eager to work cheap is not in the best interest of the students. Many of these new teachers will burn out. Those with experience will try to leave and go elsewhere or retire early, as many teachers I know have already done.
Teachers are an important part of the education process. They can’t simply be dumped away as if they are disposable and easily replaceable. It takes skills to teach and throwing people away who have such skills is just foolish.

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