Arne Duncan: Bigger Classes OK for Good Teachers…but Not Too Big

On Mayor Bloomberg's threat to lay-off over 4,000 NYC public school teachers–which is really an attempt to scare the UFT into compromising on LIFO–Duncan said, "I don't know the specific numbers, what's real and what's just positioning on both sides. But class size has been a sacred cow and we need to take it on." 

Echoing Bill Gates, Duncan suggested paying highly-effective teachers $20,000 to $25,000 more for teaching up to five additional students, and giving parents the choice as to whether their kids are placed in such classrooms. He acknowledged that small classes are currently very popular among parents. "These conversation's haven't been had," he said. "I don't think parents have been given the choice. It's provocative…but we're talking about selectively raising class sizes amongst your greatest talent."

Sixty-student classes, which are a real problem in Detroit and some California cities, are "too large," Duncan acknowledged, adding that he continues to believe in the importance of small classes in grades K-3.

One thought on “Arne Duncan: Bigger Classes OK for Good Teachers…but Not Too Big

  1. urban legend

    Part of the discussion should be this: on average, advanced countries (OECD) have smaller class sizes than the U.S.

    So, then, what’s our problem? I thought we were so frickin’ rich, so exceptional, so much better than any other country.

    (And, by the way, despite the conventional wisdom about superior education elsewhere due to longer school days and a longer school year, the U.S. by a wide margin has more annual instructional hours than any other country. And further while we’re at it, when you don’t cherry pick the data to find bad news for ideological purposes, the U.S. does reasonably well on the broad range of international tests, especially considering it is the worst of the advanced countries in poverty rates and children with only one parent. It’s time for revision of the myths.)


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