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Research aside, common sense says class size does matter

  • Written by Judge Greg Mathis
The struggling economy has, unfortunately, forced state and local governments across the country to make cuts in much needed services and programs.
 
 Judge Greg Mathis

The struggling economy has, unfortunately, forced state and local governments across the country to make cuts in much needed services and programs. The nation’s public schools have been hit particularly hard by these cuts. First, some districts reduced or completely eliminated physical education classes and arts programming – programming that has been proven to enhance student academic performance. Then, others began to eliminate teachers, slowly growing classrooms sizes. Now, it seems even more school districts are looking to reduce the number of teachers on the payroll and combine classrooms…all in an effort to save money.

A recent article in the New York Times shed light on this disturbing movement toward larger class sizes. According to the article, the size of 11th and 12th grade classes in Los Angeles has increased by more than 40 students. Detroit is considering increasing the size of its high school classes to 60 students. Though school officials there say it’s unlikely classes will grow that large, it’s disturbing the conversation has even turned in that direction.

It doesn’t end there. Georgia, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin have all relaxed their restrictions on class size. Idaho and Texas are deciding whether or not they are going to grow they’re classrooms.

Those who see cutting back on teachers and increasing class sizes as a solution to budget woes are the same people who don’t believe class size matters when it comes to student achievement. However, multiple studies have shown us that class size does matter. Research shows that, overall, students perform better in smaller classes. Poor and minority children seem to do best in smaller classes and improve at twice the rate of the average student when the student-teacher ratio is low.  

But who needs research? Common sense tells us that more students mean more distractions for the teacher and less individual attention for the students.

During his State of the Union address, President Obama called on America to invest in education. By putting our resources toward our children, we will, in effect, be putting a down payment on a more prosperous future for America. School districts should not sacrifice student performance during a time of education crisis.

America has fallen behind other countries when it comes to producing skilled workers; our nation is no longer a nation of innovators. To jeopardize our children’s future is to jeopardize our nation’s future.

(To contact Judge Greg Mathis, visit www.askjudgememphis.com)

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