Dear Crabby, Does Class Size Matter?

Dear Crabby,

With school starting up again soon, I am curious, do you believe class size matters? This is often an educational debate between teachers and administrators. Many administrators quote, “research based” beliefs that class size doesn’t impact student learning. However, many experienced teachers will beg to differ. I would like to know your thoughts.

Friend of Education

Dear Friend,

If you or I could offer a feasible solution to this problem today, not only would we be celebrated, we’d probably also be rich. While I haven’t been in a classroom recently, I do know there ain’t as much elbow room as there used to be.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

The two most common factors that seem to influence growing class sizes are a boom in development (new houses or jobs) and a boom in baby making. Sadly, I think there’s another reason we’re seeing such large class sizes: lack of qualified teachers. And can you blame someone not wanting to get into, let alone stay, in education these days? There’s a reason why teachers in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and West Virginia went on strike earlier this year. We say teachers are important assets and yet most of them are poorly paid and asked to work educational miracles with next to nothing. OK. Rant over. Now I don’t have any fancy statistical data at my fingertips and I never did a head count back in my day, but I don’t recall the classes being overly crowded. At least not in elementary or middle school. And no. I did not attend a one-schoolhouse. I’m old, not ancient. My granddaughter told me that her English class had 32 kids in it one year. Can you imagine? Makes me wonder if the teacher even had enough textbooks to pass out to the entire class. My guess is no and that some had to share.

As for these so-called administrators, I’d love to know how many of them have spent actual time in a classroom teaching. Or trying to arrange desks so that everyone fits in, while also ensuring they aren’t close enough for students to cheat come test time. And what about when you need to get to a student to offer individual help? Some of these classrooms are so crammed, the poor teacher looks like he/she is competing on “American Ninja Warrior.” Your darn right class size can have an impact on student learning. And can we please stop saying things like, “China has way more kids per classroom.” Yes, they do. But they also have way more people than the United States does. Their population is over one billion compared to the measly three hundred-some million in the U.S. Plus, students there go to school something like 10 hours a day and sometimes on weekends too, so it’s not like we’re comparing apples-to-apples. What we should be focusing on in the grass in our own backyard. At the moment I don’t have any ideas to offer other than the majority of schools need more money. So, if anyone knows of piles and piles of cash just laying around schools could use, now would be a good time to speak up. Until that time, parents and the community need to do all they can to support the teachers.

As for the upcoming school year – God bless and good luck!
Dear Crabby

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