Jennifer T, a Washington, D.C. public school teacher (and friend from my hometown!), writes in with the following response to yesterday's post on class size.
This teacher believes that class size is tied with improving teacher education as the number one issue in education today. Really good teaching is differentiated teaching- meeting each and every kid where they are and raising their level of work bit by bit, day by day. Only by knowing each kid, conferencing with each kid and providing instruction to each kid how he or she best learns can we honestly close the achievement gap. We cannot do this with 26 second graders and only one teacher. It is impossible. Even for excellent (Highly Effective, even!) teachers in well-funded schools with amazing PTAs that pay for full-time assistants who are graduate students of education. Not with reading specialists and ELL teachers and all sorts of other personnel.
I obviously speak with experience in this one. Those of us who work 10 hour days matching kids with curriculum would greatly appreciate a decrease in class size. 16 would be dreamy, but I would settle for 18. We could go a lot deeper with 18. Instead of putting out fires and putting on bandaids to make sure the lowest kids weren't falling to far behind our curriculum guides, we could also make sure that our high flyers are being challenged and the vast middle isn't just passed through.
I would not take more money for larger classes. I don't think it's good for kids and it is certainly not good for already overworked teachers.