Friday, March 1, 2013
The mayor's ignorant remarks today on class size
The mayor was at it again today, in his ill-considered and ignorant attack on class size. On his radio show, he apparently said:
"I got in trouble every time I say this. But I would do anything to have better quality teachers, even if it meant bigger class size, even if it meant them standing rather than sitting. That's what really makes a difference. That human being that looks the student in the eye, adjusts the curriculum based on instinct what's in the child's interest."
What does that mean? That kids can learn just as well when it’s so overcrowded they don’t have a seat? What universe does the Mayor live in that he thinks this is acceptable?
Would he send his own children to a school where they had to stand in their classroom because it was too crowded? No, his daughters went to Spence where the average class size is 16-18 students.
What the Mayor is ignoring is that when a teacher has 25, 30 or more students he can’t possibly “look” each student in the eye and “adjust” the curriculum to fit that individual child’s needs, no matter how brilliant a teacher he may be.
The whole point of smaller classes is to allow teachers to provide personalized support, to create an effective feedback loop so that they can respond to each child as individuals rather than data points.
And there is NO trade-off between quality teaching and class size. In fact, the two are complimentary. Only with smaller classes can we reduce our huge teacher attrition rate, and ensure that all NYC kids have an effective, experienced teacher as well.
Now, it’s no surprise that Bloomberg might want to devalue the importance of class size, as class sizes have increased every year for the last five and are now the largest in 14 years in the early grades, despite the fact that smaller classes are the top priority of parents on the DOE’s own surveys every year they’ve been given.
Class size reduction is also one of only a handful of reforms shown to lead to more learning through rigorous evidence, according to the Institute for Education Sciences. The Mayor’s statement today disputing the importance of class size is consistent with his arrogant disregard for the views of parents and his refusal to listen to the findings of evidence-based research, a hallmark of his education policies.