Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bleh, The Class Size Scam

The Region19 budget passed on Tuesday. In many ways it is obscene. Bloated by over $200K, taxpayers may as well burn dollars in barrels during the winter for heat.

There's really no excuse for this kind of over-spending. As a liberal, I believe responsibly managing the resources and budget is what will keep public schools healthy and keep the politics from swinging back into the arms of the lunatic fringe the Bush administration ushered into office.

Throwing money at ineffective educational pedagogy is nothing new but pointless nonetheless. It is also corrosive. Conservative Republicans can, in good conscience, complain about budgets like this and Democrats should listen. Education budgets like this are shining examples of tax dollar spending run amok.

Last Tuesday, I questioned whether the tiny and temporary rise in class size that reducing our staff by two positions would in fact affect academic performance at all. I was showered with a litany of BOE members, former teachers, present teachers, administrators and who-not that OH MY GOD, OF COURSE CLASS SIZE MATTERS! - YOU IDIOT!

So, for the past week I have been researching the class size literature and the fact of he matter is that the one thing that the experts agree on is that the kind of class size fluctuation we were discussing HAS ZERO EFFECT ON STUDENT ACADEMIC PROGRESS.

ZERO. [Yes, I know, I know, somewhere there is a cosmically co-incidental example of a student actually raising their grade in a one or two pupil smaller class! Riiiiiiiiight.]

It seems to me that when there's a national whining about math and science education, one would thing that teachers would take the math and science of their own profession into consideration - just to set a good example, you know.

I mean, I happen to think its embarrassing when the certified personnel are oblivious to the conclusions of the research about the affect of class size on learning. Not only that but they spend their time convincing the community to over-spend on already low classroom sizes.

Finally, it hurts the BOE when so many members are tightly coupled to teaching and also are so oblivious to the assumptions and special interest indoctrinations they introduce to business decisions about the school.

In future years, taxpayers are unlikely to believe the Board and it is the expensive fictions like these that will make them think twice.

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