Thoughts on Class Size

(The following is a reply to a fella complaining
about class sizes being too small.)

Jon said earlier something to the effect that a 15 kid classroom is wasteful, saying he had a wonderful education back in the 50's with 30 kids to a class, (probably walked 4 miles in deep snow every day too, like me) even going so far as to say he would send his kids back in time if he could.

Well Jon, many of us who grew of age in the 50's kinda liked em pretty good too. But I gotta tell you, after 30+ yrs of marriage to an elementary school teacher whose career dates to 1960, it's just not the same composition in the classroom today.

  1. Many kids today (often half or more) come from broken homes, or at least don't live with both their natural parents. That's a recipe for lots more emotional problems, psychological problems, etc. impacting on the classroom requiring teacher time.

  2. Most of the kids today have both parents working, which leaves a LOT less time for the kids after school, to help with homework for example, or projects or drilling math facts or just sitting down with the kids and talking about how the day went or .....

  3. Every class has kids that are "classified" in one way or another, usually requiring them to be out one or two periods a day, time when the teacher cannot legally teach "normal" subjects (the "3 R's", etc.) else the missing fall behind even further, which effectively holds back the rest of the class.

  4. Because of well meaning political activists pushing specific agendas, there is less time to spend on the "3 R's" than used to be (and should be) because now time must be spent on sex/drug/family-life/discrimination/... "education".

  5. There's more (a lot more) Jon but you get the idea.
Jon accuses teachers for whining, implying if they just did their jobs everything would be hunky dory. And then he turns right around and gives an example of an adult class his wife attended as poor schooling (due to poor classroom discipline). What makes Jon think a classroom teacher/principal in a public school has even as much as, much less more, authority to discipline than his wife's teacher had in her class? Ain't like the 50's anymore Jon, today discipline's a major league sensitive job what with activist PTA's, lawyers, more laws, union rules, sensationalist seeking media.....

If I were king I would do two things (at least up until high school and maybe even there):

  1. Mandate maximum classroom teacher/student ratios of 1/20 with 1/15 as the optimum. In other words if a grade had between 21 and 40 kids, then there must be at least two classroom (not counting specialists, remedialists, etc.) teachers. If there is 41, then there must be three classroom teachers. If there aren't enough classrooms, then the teachers can "team teach" (two, or more, to a room. Actually a great thing, but a subject for a different thread.).

  2. Establish minimum statewide standards for a child to pass on to the next grade.I would have teachers set the standards (NOT academics, politicians, activists, parents, businessmen, "experts", et al.). The way I would do it is have a fifth grade teacher (for example) from each county sit down together and decide what they think the minimum a child coming from fourth grade should know. I would do that for each grade right up through high school.

  3. Require every school employ a full time psychologist to help those kids mentioned in the first list cope with their situations. There isn't a year goes by that my wife hasn't had AT LEAST 1, usually more, kids and parents that could have used some kind of emotional coping help.

(If you would like to expand on these thoughts, send me an email.
If there is any interest, I will add your thoughts to it.)

End of School Thoughts

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