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Cross-posted from Campaign for America's Future,

To all those out there who are clamoring for "market-based"approaches to education reform, please tell me this: What kind of a business slashes inventory in the face of increasing demand?

Because that is exactly what's going on with public education in America today. Many states that are experiencing the sharpest increases in student enrollment (pdf) are, at the same time, mandating the most extreme cutbacks in education spending, effectively reducing the inventory of education opportunity available to the nation's children and youth. Just take a look at Texas.

Texas this year added the highest number of new students to its system of any state in the country, taking in nearly 85,000 new students. Faced with demand increases of this magnitude, how did members of the Republican-dominated state legislature respond? By putting forth bills that would reduce the state’s public school budget by at least 13 percent — nearly $3.5 billion a year. According to the New York Times,"School administrators predict that as many as 100,000 school employees would have to be laid off to absorb the cuts."

In Florida,a state that added over 15,500 new students, education cuts proposed by its Tea Party-backed governor could lead to 20,000 teacher layoffs.

In Georgia, which ranked fourth in the number of new student additions, yet another hard-charging Republican-led administration has pushed through sharp reductions in school allocations, leading to, according to Georgia PTA (powerpoint)cuts of $6,000 per classroom or $711.06 per student enrolled, even without adjusting for inflation.

Virginia, a state with smaller but still significant increases in enrollment, cut $341 millionin state funding in fiscal 2010.

Free market-minded Democratic leaders are jumping on the cut-happy bandwagon as well, with Colorado's governorproposing to "drop school spending to 2007-08 levels" and reduce average per-pupil funding by $500, despite the addition of almost 11,000 more students to school enrollments. And state leaders in Illinoiswelcomed the addition of over 14,000 new students this year by slashing early childhood, bilingual education, after-school programs, and reimbursements for school; cutting truancy and alternative education programs in half; and ending student health and safety programs completely.

Cuts of this magnitude will have new and dramatic impacts on what parents will encounter next fall when they bring their children back to school after the summer break. When schools have had to cut back on spending in the past,what that mostly entailed was eliminating non-teaching positions "on the periphery," like janitors and school psychologists, or delayed equipment upgrades and building maintenance. Then in more severe cases, when schools were hit with "across the board" reductions, it meant getting rid of targeted services such as the reading specialists who help kids with dyslexia or the school's foreign language program. As long as your kid could read okay and wasn't interested in speaking Mandarin, what did you care? But cuts being enacted across the country today go far beyond that - cutting into teaching positions and "core programs."

As teacher and edu-bloger Anthony Codyexplains, when the state of California, another high-growth enrollment state, considers cutting $25 billion from state education spending, the ramifications for his school in inner-city Oakland are that "one teacher in four got a pink slip, as did every principal. If these cuts go through, we will see class sizes increase to 35 to 40 students per class, and we will lose every single counselor and librarian. Special education students currently receiving the benefit of smaller classes and specialized instruction will be merged into regular classes, and even the aides that assist them will be laid off, or given caseloads of dozens to support."

In other words, the new target for state government cutbacks on education is classroom teachers themselves and school children who are the neediest in terms of extra time and attention. The unavoidable outcome is larger class sizes for virtually all children and the teacher-force being spread thinner and thinner throughout every community.

Fiscally conservative governors aren’t the only ones spearheading the campaign against teachers and class sizes. On the national level, the rich and the powerful on all sides of the political spectrum are helping to soften the target. Bill Gatesstarted off the enabling of the budget hawks when he declared that lifting caps on class sizes would magically get more students in front of the very best teachers. By "identifying the top 25 percent of teachers and asking them to take on four or five more students," he opined, schools could somehow improve instructional outcomes and spend way less on personnel. Never mind that there currently is no reliable system for actually doing this, and indeed may never be.

Unfortunately, Secretary of Education Arne Duncanwas quick to chime in with support for this pipedream, calling for "modest but smartly targeted increases in class size." Bolstering his case for rethinking the benefits of small class sizes, the Center of American Progress released its latestin a long string of misguided education studiesproclaiming the "inefficiency" of small class sizes. Inefficient "compared to what?" asked school finance wiz Bruce Baker,pointing out that CAP never even considers the supposed greater efficiencies of potential alternatives.

The main obstacle to this concerted assault on class size is that parents think that keeping classes small is really, really important. In fact, they've actually voted for itall across the country. Given this strong parent and voter backing behind class size limits, Education Weekrecaps:

The national ratio of students to their teachers fell between 1980 and 2008, from 17.6 to 15.8 students per public school teacher, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Because the statistics count special education and other specialized teachers who normally have much smaller classes than regular teachers do, the U.S. Department of Education estimates the current average class size at more like 25 students.

Parents recognize intuitively that smaller class sizes make a difference. Rachel Levy,a parent herself as well as a former teacher, explains:

Teaching is not like showing a movie in a movie theater where everyone has the same experience no matter how many people are in theater, nor is learning a passive experience. Teaching can be more like being a server in a restaurant: after a certain point, the more tables you have to wait on, the worse your service is going to be, especially if each table is full, with different orders, and even different menus. I don't want my own children going to a school that is modeled after a McDonald's, nor do I want as a teacher to be the equivalent of a McDonald's worker.

But parents' approval of smaller class sizes isn't based on intuition alone. There is a significant body of research validating the benefits of small class sizes. Leonie Haimson, parent advocate and Executive Director of the grassroots education group Class Size Matters,provides a lot of clarity here. Writing in Huffington Post, she explains

The STAR experiment from Tennessee, widely regarded as one of the best studies in the history of public education, found significantly different outcomes for students depending on what class size they were randomly assigned within this range. Those who were placed in smaller classes of 13-17 students scored significantly higher on tests, received better grades and exhibited improved attendance and behavior than those assigned to classes of 22-26 students.
The benefits of reduced class size lasted throughout a student's educational career. In fourth, sixth and eighth grade, students who were in a smaller class in the early grades were ahead of their peers academically. In high school, they had lower drop-out rates, higher grades and received better results on their college entrance exams.

That few people - outside of parents, educators, and the people who listen to them - understand the real impact of spending cuts and increasing class sizes is understandable because the media hardly ever does any reporting about it. In fact, a new studyfrom Brookings last week found that in 2009 "only 1.4 percent of national news coverage from television, newspapers, news Web sites, and radio dealt with education." 2008, an election year, was even worse when "only 0.7 percent of national news coverage involved education."

Leaders in our state houses and federal government should know better. And actually they probably really do. But rather than working to provide parents and communities the schools they want, the determined agenda is to turn schools into places that parents will ultimately reject, with overcrowded classrooms, beleaguered teachers delivering one-size-fits all instruction, and rapidly diminishing attention to the specific needs of children. Then everyone will blame educators.

And although the politicians, philanthropists, and pundits may like to talk about how hard times, competition, and cutting "fat" makes for "leaner and meaner" organizations, they also know that enterprises that reduce their products and services during a time of increasing demand lose out to their competitors and eventually go out of business. Which is, come to think of it, exactly whatthe self-anointed "reformers" are aiming to do.

Originally posted to jeff bryant on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 05:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight and Three Star Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Increasing class size goes along with (25+ / 0-)

    weakening child labor laws and cutting teacher pay.
    It makes sense only if you want to cripple quality public  education.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 06:03:51 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for replying crystal eyes (16+ / 0-)

      And you're right that these are all signs of a systemic assault on fundamental human rights of children and teachers. George Lakoff has warned us progressives that we must continuously frame our cause in terms of morality and systemic cause-and-effects. Teacher pay, child labor laws, class sizes, budget cuts . . . these are all interconnected to ensuring a free and democratic society.

    •  The bigger the class size, the (17+ / 0-)

      higher the profit.  It's the same goal as gutting teachers salaries.  When Republicans succeed in privatizing education, the profit maximizing factors need to be in place.

      "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

      by ahumbleopinion on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 09:18:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My god, that's depressing. (12+ / 0-)

        But I fear you are right.

        When are we going to get over this "efficiency" obsession? Maybe it makes sense if you are manufacturing widgets, but speaking from many years of experience in public education, the best teachers I know aren't awesome because they are "efficient" - there are a whole host of other qualities that make them so. Being a good teacher means really paying attention to your kiddos and knowing their individual academic, social, and emotional needs. Cramming more kids into a classroom is not going to help.

        •  Efficiency? Seriously? (5+ / 0-)

          What do they think it does to the "efficiency" of the classroom when instruction is impeded by outbursts of bad behavior?

          If you have two chronically disruptive students in your class, you can seat them on opposite sides of the room, and 80 percent of your disciplinary problems will be taken care of, because they won't be able to play off each other. Add just one more chronically disruptive student to the room, and your problem pairs have just increased from one to three. With a fourth chronically disruptive student, you now have six problem pairs; with a fifth, ten; and with a sixth, you no longer have any feasible seating arrangement that will keep them apart, and your whole day will be spent trying to maintain a modicum of order, not teaching.

          That's what large class sizes do. Especially in poorer communities, because kids who are more materially and emotionally needy act out more.

          "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

          by Geenius at Wrok on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 04:35:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Breakdown occurs at six problem pairs (0+ / 0-)

            or four chronically disruptive students, because a room only has four corners, and the classroom door is in or near one of those corners. Also, no matter how well behaved and motivated the remaining students are, there is no clear bright line between chronically disruptive and well behaved motivated achievers.

            The kids who would be okay in a smaller class see the jokers "getting away with it" (while the teacher is busy with fire a, fire b starts up on the other side of the room: the kids see b as getting away with it).  They will only remain passive observers of the class clowns for so long before they begin to participate in disruption themselves.

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 07:05:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •   Agreed. Bill Gates' foundation was (5+ / 0-)

          talking 6 months ago about the importance of teacher-student interactions, but a recent article on their initiatives reports a new collaboration with Pearson to develop interactive educational software.  Will this allow teachers to use more customized approaches, and more individual interactions?  Or will it just allow more students per teacher?

          My experience in education is that students are not interested unless there is social interaction with a teacher.  

          •  Main difference between public and private schools (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            when it comes to performance, is student-teacher ratio. All other factors (quality of teacher education, social environment, curriculum etc) being the same, student performance is anti-proportional to class size.

            I assume the rich and their underlings know this:
            Basically, all children are equally intelligent. With an egalitarian educational system, kids from upper class families will have to compete with kids from middle and working class families for the secure, well-paying, prestigious and fulfilling jobs. In order to protect their own children from unduly competition, they're destroying public education, by clamoring, among other things, for greater class size (also: vouchers, increased testing, curbing teacher's unions etc.)

            "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

            by aufklaerer on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 06:23:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It's a shell game (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jeff bryant

            teacher student interactions are important

            interactions are important

            interactivity is important

            interactive software is important

            buy this new interactive educational software

            it's important

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 07:10:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  what we need is all the kids in the nation (0+ / 0-)

        watching video lectures on US History by Newt Gingrich. That'll larn 'em!

      •  The fly in the ointment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is clearly going to be the excellent suburban public school systems where parents have stretched their family budgets to the breaking point to move so their kids can go to these highly successful schools. They tend to be Republican, and here in Ohio, they are in full, angry rebellion. They are furious with the governor they voted for since he has proposed gutting their state funding. These people do NOT want to send their kids to the junk charter schools that are mostly failing, that deliver cheap education and open and close erratically, leaving kids stranded. These families often sacrificed big-time so they didn't have to pay whopping private school tuition — and they won't be eligible for the huge expansion of vouchers because their school systems will never be among the worst, even if all educational levels keep sinking, just because of the pool of who is there. (I went to a terrible Chicago public elementary school, but I have two college degrees — and the same school also produced Michelle Obama. It's all about the parents and their priorities).

        Ultimately, there isn't enough money to privatize education for everyone — they can pour money into crap charters to warehouse poor kids and the richest can go to private schools. But the average middle-class person didn't sign on for this. The vast majority of parents are happy with the vast majority of school systems, and they are really pissed off her in Ohio right now that their school systems are under assault.

        Look for Governor Kasich's approval to go much, much lower.

        Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

        by anastasia p on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 08:00:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No. Bigger class sizes = fewer kids. (0+ / 0-)

        Here in NYC, one of the biggest selling points of charters and private schools are their small class sizes. Many charters allocate two teachers to a class.

        In NYC, the average Charter school class has 23 kids. The average public school class is well over 25.

        Whatever you think about the research on the effect of class size, one thing is clear: Parents love small classes.

        When parents have the ability to choose schools, they choose schools with small classes. Those who want small classes should think about ways to give more power to parents.

        •  But too many non parents do not (0+ / 0-)

          want to pay the taxes to provide those small classes to the parents who want them, now that Republicans have turned their propaganda cannon on public schools.

          "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

          by ahumbleopinion on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 10:12:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's Not Just Crippling (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      World Patriot

      it's all about destroying public education, period.

      if states/federal gov't continue on the low jobs growth path, obv that means a huge loss of revenue-- revenue needed to operate schools and pay teachers.

      couple that with billions in unpaid state worker benefits some states like IL have-- and guess what? something has to give... and that something is going to be public education.

      Home schooling that some are clamoring for-- that may be coming alot sooner than you think.

      "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

      by Superpole on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 05:17:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Home schooling takes A LOT of effort (0+ / 0-)

        I know some "seculars" who home-schooled for a couple of years, and while they were for the most part academically  successful, they ended up feeling they weren't giving a full enough educational experience to their two children. Both of their kids are doing well in Public school now, but their biggest hurdle was socialization the first couple of years.

        Learning to "work and play with others" is vastly under-rated.

        The so-called "rising tide" is lifting only yachts.

        by Egalitare on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 06:17:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i never learned it (0+ / 0-)

          and now i hide behind a computer screen all day, snarking on the internet.

          •  I am similarly "afflicted"... (0+ / 0-)

            ...and recognizing that one shouldn't "inflict one's socially-challenged nature" on others means you actually have some degree of empathy for others.

            You're more "socially competent" than you want to admit ;-)

            The so-called "rising tide" is lifting only yachts.

            by Egalitare on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 07:35:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Won't work for most (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Most parents are working. Friends of mine homeschooled their two boys for a couple of years because one was having trouble focusing in a regular classroom (it wasn't a religious issue). But the homeschooling was done by a grandmother — a retired teacher who lived just a few miles from the family in rural Pennsylvania and had plenty of time on her hands plus it gave her a chance to bond with her grandsons without having them on her hands 24/7. So they had an ideal situation. Most families don't. (Plus this as only for a couple of years in grade school – the boys eventually went back to public high school).

          Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

          by anastasia p on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 08:06:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Class size deniers (14+ / 0-)

         is what they are, and you're right, Gates is the most prominent.

  •  The assault on the public sector continues (12+ / 0-)
    But rather than working to provide parents and communities the schools they want, the determined agenda is to turn schools into places that parents will ultimately reject, with overcrowded classrooms, beleaguered teachers delivering one-size-fits all instruction, and rapidly diminishing attention to the specific needs of children. Then everyone will blame educators.

    True enough.  And it's not just here.  We get bad governance and then claims that government is bad.  In the end, the question is what we want government to do.  And I think providing opportunity for all, equipping all our children to be active and engaged citizens is a paramount public purpose.  

  •  Small class sizes - do as I say not as I do (23+ / 0-)

    Funny, but those pushing most for raising class sizes are the very members of the "reform" crowd who all went to private schools with - wait for it - small class sizes.

    The only thing consistent in their position is hypocrisy.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

    by michael in chicago on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 07:07:42 PM PDT

  •  Noone should be surprised (9+ / 0-)

    that Arne Duncan signed on to another idiotic idea such as the one promoted by Gates.

    After all Duncan claimed that Hurricane Katrina was the best thing ever to happen to education in New Orleans. The fact that this neo-liberal charlatan holds a position in the President's cabinet is an absolute disgrace.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 07:08:00 PM PDT

  •  If this were just about the money (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Leap Year, fumie, maf1029, JanL, Egalitare

    both the budgeting and the Wall Street grab, that would be one thing.

    But it isn't. The current "War on Education" is part of the wider Culture War.

    The corporatist do not want, and can not afford a well educated populace ... They might start asking too many questions, and thinking critically.

    What they need to run their businesses is a large pool of moderately schooled workers, and a small pool of highly skilled.

    The private schools can provide the latter, while the Public School kids need no better than eight grade education.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 07:51:21 PM PDT

    •  So true (8+ / 0-)

      The only thing I would add is that there is an additional drive to privatize public education so that it can be part of corporate balance sheets. This has already been done in Chile, Senegal, Pakistan, and elsewhere, by the auspices of the International Monetary Fund. It's called "rule by spreadsheet."

      •  I regularly donate money (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fumie, JanL, HeyMikey

        to the Canadian Harambee Education Society, which provides scholarships for girls to attend school in Kenya and Tanzania.

        In those countries, free education only exists through middle school. If you want to go to high school, you must pay. Obviously, many families can't. And for families who can afford a bit of education, the tendency is to send only the boys to school. Anyway, when I first started donating years ago, I never thought that free, quality public education in the U.S. was at risk, and that we had the very real possibility of turning into a Kenya or Tanzania, where only the rich get educated.

    •  the motive force for the 60s student protests (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, Egalitare, World Patriot

      was working and middle class kids getting a quality education, and then putting those principles into action. there's a reason why one of reagan's first acts as governor was to  begin the process of gutting the CA 1960 master plan on education.

    •  The obsession with standardized tests does a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, Friend of the court

      great service toward the goal of a compliant populace.  I see fewer and fewer kids willing to argue.  Why argue, when it doesn't matter?  The person who came up with the "right" answer is far away, anonymous, and probably doesn't remember the question anymore.    

  •  Bill Gates on TED. Does he (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    seem as disingenuous to you as he does to me?  How does he keep getting on TED?  One bad idea/analysis after another.

    Not every that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

    by annie em on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 10:02:23 PM PDT

    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Leap Year, JanL

    Not that hard to figure out.

  •  I am a public school employee (9+ / 0-)

    in TX. I work in special ed, so my job has not been cut. This is what has happened at both my elementary campuses: one teacher per grade (K-5) has been cut for next year. We had the luxury of pretty small classes (15 or so in the lower grades), but now classes will be more like 20 students; maybe more because our district is growing like wild (despite the bad economy; in fact, probably because of the bad economy - we are a bedroom community for a larger, expensive city. Houses in my district are still affordable).

    It will be interesting to see how parents respond. Conservative politicians and pundits around here all claim that class size doesn't matter. However, I have never heard a parent, even a rabidly conservative one, say such a thing. When classes grow and students are no longer given the individualized attention and instruction that they deserve, will GOP-voting parents make the connection that this is part and parcel of what it means to vote Republican?

    The situation is worsened by the fact that half of the interventionist staff has also been fired, as well as all elementary-school technologists. Our district had implemented a FANTASTIC Response To Intervention program, in which academic problems are quickly detected, and struggling students get to see a reading or math or writing interventionist for small-group help. Similarly, kids who are above grade level are quickly identified, and teachers provide those kids with individualized learning opportunities to help them excel. Teachers will now have to take on half of the interventionists' work, as well as handling all technology issues themselves (which is a pretty big time sink - it's way more efficient to have one magic guru who can zip in and set up a smartboard or troubleshoot a problem at any moment of the day).

    Things just aren't going to be the same next year. I hope the teachers don't burn out and give up, and I hope parents, if they didn't already, realize that they need to stop voting GOP if they care about their kids' education.

    •  I was a K-6 Computer Lab Instructor....... (4+ / 0-)

      .....That's what I'd do during my planning period and and open slots.

      Medicare 2011 - Better Dead Than Red

      by dehrha02 on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 01:27:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for your real-world comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, Leap Year

      And thanks for your service as a public school educator.

    •  In New York, 40% of teacher evaluations (3+ / 0-)

      will be based on student growth.  So class sizes grow and at the same time there is a larger proportion of students who have learning disabilities as a result of major advanced in medicine.  There is good statistical data now showing that infants born at very low gestational ages and weights have cognitive delays, and altered brain development.  So with more children in the classroom, and more of them needing special services and having potentially lower trajectories for learning, we're going to base teacher evaluations on student growth???  

      [There is increased survival of extremely low birthweight infants: Neonatology. 2010;98(3):278-88. Epub 2010 May 7. -- I assume if this is true, the same is true for very low birthweight and preterm.]

      [over 1/2 of very low birthweight children had IQ 1 standard deviation lower than average at age 19.  
      Dev Med Child Neurol. 2010 Dec;52(12):1133-8.]

      [Preterm only had slightly lower cognitive capacity, lower educational and occupational careers, no brain structural differences at ages 33-35 years; Pediatr Neurol. 2011 Jan;44(1):12-20.]

      The burdens on teachers are increasing without changing class size.

  •  It is a continuation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leap Year, JanL

    of the Bush plans, where public schools become so underfunded that no one will attend except the poor and the disabled, which would not be served by private schools for the most part.  Unfortunately Obama campaigned on a charter schools and anti-teacher platform and got away with it.  

    The party of No is well on their way to becoming the party of nobody. Alan Grayson

    by Leftleaner on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 11:03:55 PM PDT

  •  Don't forget higher ed... (5+ / 0-)

    for example, in TX, Rick Perry's admonition that universities had better start offering degrees for $10,000. This is actually being taken seriously, and studied.

    But we've got that fancy new jumbotron at the University of Texas. Who needs a 50-student history seminar when you can stuff 100,000 into the stadium and broadcast a lecture on the big screen?

  •  What else can we expect from Gates? (7+ / 0-)

    After 25 years he can't fix Windows; what makes us think he can fix education?

      •  With 650 lawyers and & dad's law firm behind him (0+ / 0-)

        and a heavy lobbying presence in DC, Microsoft has immensely benefited from getting patent law (a vast expansion of intellectual property rights) to apply to software (instead of just hardware) by applying the legal expertise in acquiring technology, shutting down competitors through patent litigation and pre-empting through OEM product pre-installation, as well as making legal deals and 'settlements' resulting in potentially competitive technology being taken off the marketplace.  Even when they are found guilty in US courts of monopolistic practices, demolishing competitors unfairly, they got fined a bit, monitored through this year, but they were not broken up into smaller competitive firms.  Amusingly, they (and AT&T & Comcast, etc.) really want Google prosecuted for developing into a search engine monopoly and offering Android software for phones,  having the audacity to make billions from internet ads and have gained greater stock value than they have.

        By the way, with Microsoft ending Windows XP support very soon (XP is probably running more than 50% of today's PCs in operation in homes and workplaces), don't be surprised when Microsoft also announces the end of Vista support, around the time they announce the release of Windows 8, probably this year. Of course, Microsoft announcing and actually delivering a working stable version of software has historically been a bit problematic.   Some serious defects in the software security model of Windows, Internet Explorer and Office have lingered since initial designs, since Windows wasn't initially designed with wide open networks in mind.  The only way to fix them is to totally replace that software.  That will mean trying to force the junking of 100's of millions of (what will be) obsolete PCs.  I suspect millions of people may be more interested in giving up their old unsecurable PC for an advanced smart phone.

        When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

        by antirove on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 09:36:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  the colleges these people send their children to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have small class size for a reason. this is a way to cripple the other half (80-90%, really) so that there's less competition at the top.

  •  Schools DO need reforms. (4+ / 0-)

    ...But not like this. No, they need to have more tax money to repair ailing buildings, to hire new teachers, and to get better books, desks, and supplies.

    My school in Colorado went into debt, by 10 million dollars recently. It was embezzled. And for whatever reason, they couldnt get it back. And so since 10 million in the red is a lot, the school got sucky fast.

    As far as I can tell, heres what the rightwingers will do:

    A) Make a voucher system, that is not for enough money. This voucher system will likely be shortchanged, with promises of supplying more that will of course, never materialize.

    B) Cause public schools to shut down as their better students are pulled into private schools

    C) Having long since lost the fight agianst reality (the 1st amendment), like all cheats, the right is looking to make everyone go to a religious school.

    D) Disband the Department of Educaiton (we know they want this.)

    and of course:

    F) This will be the only generation that gets them. No one after this will, and you're a fool to think otherwise.

    Knowledge is Power. And right now we have a surplus on knowledge. The only hope of the right is to screw things so badly that no one can actually see Four lights anymore.

    "May whatever power they believe in show the rightwingers mercy. They have been led astray by devils with chalkboards."

    by kamrom on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 01:15:04 AM PDT

  •  It's about money. (0+ / 0-)

    Reducing class size will cost serious bucks.

    We have 4,000,000 teachers in the US making an average of about $70k/year each (this includes benefits).

    That's $280 billion in teacher salaries alone.  This doesn't include building new classrooms and facilities.

    And of course every 20-30 actual teachers require an Administrator, a HR executive, an "Educational Consultant", and a Bureaucrat or two.

    If we want to reduce class size by half, we need to find another half-trillion per year. Taxing capital gains as ordinary income would so this. Ending a war is another way to get the money.

    The question is, if we were to spend another $400 billion or so on education is this the very best way to spend it? Does reducing class size give us the best bang-for-the-buck?

    •  "best bang-for-the-buck" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Compared to what? The cost of prisons? Don't we have to question what our country really values? Not just how much we spend and what the "return" is? But what we spend it on?

      •  "Compared to what"? (0+ / 0-)

        That's what I'm asking.

        If we had $400 billion/year is reducing class size the very best use of that money? Better than healthcare, nutrition, vision exams for kids, housing, or social programs?

        That's the question.

        There is plenty of research on the effect of class size. What does the research say?

        •  This seems (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Egalitare, maf1029

          like deliberate trolling to me.

          Did you read the article you are commenting on?  The author specifically addressed the research in the article.  Follow the link to Class Size Matters, they have a great deal of research on the subject, much of it even broken down into handy fact sheets for easy digestion.

          Even in terms of your original false frame question, if we only have $400 billion/year, increasing the education budget is probably the single best way to spend the money.  Better and more (longer) education is linked to a whole host of beneficial outcomes, not least of which is improved health, and thus, lower health care costs.  

          An informed citizenry is the base of a functioning democracy.  We don't have to wonder why people consolidating power attack the ability of the populace to learn and access information.

          •  Of course it's trolling (0+ / 0-)

            ManhattanMan trolls all education diaries with his anti-teacher, anti-public-school, anti-union posts.

            And in the overall budget, $400 billion is kind of peanuts. We could try cutting the military budget by that much.

            Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

            by anastasia p on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 08:15:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I am all for... (0+ / 0-)

            ...increasing the education budget.

            I just think that there are better things (paying teachers more, fixing school buildings, in-school healthcare) that should be addressed before class size.

            Some schools will find class size to be their best option, though. Let those schools spend the money on more teachers. We will look at their test scores and judge based on the results.

            I just object to any sort of blanket statements about the benefits of class size when:

            1. The research is shaky: Even the much vaunted Tennessee study required very small classes to show any difference. Studies done in NYC public schools show no difference, but they are also pretty shaky.

            2. The cost is enormous: See my numbers in the above post.

            Look, I know there are a lot of teachers out there who would like to grade 21 papers instead of 25 papers. I wish someone would give me the same money for less work, too. Who doesn't?

            But this is not about making adults happy. We need to stay focused on benefits to kids.

            Class size should be one of many possible tools that educators use to help their kids. It should not be a first (or a last) resort.

            •  "look at their test scores and judge" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              David Kaib

              Test scores do not provide an adequate metric for judging school effectiveness. This is a complete an utter myth. The tests are too narrow (just reading and math and only a slice of what those domains require), the tests don't measure achievement adequately (the are designed to produce a bell curve, not indicate minimum competency), and they're not objective (test items are chosen by human beings and often graded by them as well). Please stop believing that there is a magic metric that defines which schools are truly advancing learning. It is much more complicated than that, and for anyone to say that they can use test scores to make it simple is selling snake oil.

              •  If there is no way... (0+ / 0-)

       measure effectiveness, on what data do you rest your claims that class size is important?

                You can't have it both ways. You can't call for reforms in the name of improving education...and then claim that there is no way to measure the improvements.

                There needs to be an objective, third-party evaluation of what students know. Maybe it is not a multiple choice test. Maybe a team of inspectors -- from outside the school district -- does a series of student interviews.

                But if you ask taxpayers to pay money, please be prepared to show that the money is being well-spent.

                •  school vs. child (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  David Kaib

                  First, you said you could tell the difference between effective and ineffective schools by test scores. Then you change the subject to growth in student achievement. Second, there are different kinds of tests that are used to gather adequate data about achievement. NAEP, for instance, is often used as a  measure of learning for comparative purposes. But this is a different kind of measure than the standardized tests you're talking about that are used to evaluate school effectiveness under NCLB. Again, current evaluations made about school effectiveness using test data mandated by NCLB are erroneous. Please read the book The Myths of Standardized Tests.

                  •  They are the same thing. (0+ / 0-)

                    If student achievement does not improve, then the school is not effective.

                    We need to make allowances -- large allowances -- for socioeconomic conditions. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is student achievement.

                    If class size can be shown to help student achievement, then it's a good idea.

                    But if you don't believe that achievement is even measurable, then how can you say that any reform is good or bad?

                    I know that most of the tests aren't good...but some of them are. We need to focus on the good ones and use them to find out which kids are and aren't getting the help they need.

                  •  broken link, sorry (0+ / 0-)

                    Go here instead for a review:

        •  Maybe. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Egalitare, ManhattanMan, antirove

          Smaller class sizes in K-3 definitely result in better long-term performance--through high school graduation, at least. In terms of adult earnings, some research suggests higher teacher salaries give more bang for the buck. Better kindergarten teachers also result in higher adult earnings.


          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 06:54:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's about societal investment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, antirove

      "Bang for the buck" BTW is an term that originated in the Military Industrial Complex (which I know very well as a former Military Contractor employee), and it is easy to make that comparison on widgets, even very complex ones such as the Nuclear Carriers I helped build and overhaul.

      Children are different. Some children will succeed with even 30+ fellow students. Some will struggle with even 14 other fellow students. Budgetary pressures more often than not "reward" the better students (which is measured and valued almost exclusively in terms of college prep readiness) with smaller classes, and consign most of our more challenged students to larger classes.

      It may all be in the way one prioritize resources, but in the context of our very short news and election cycles, disembodied "bottom lines" of dubious construction trump pedagogic best practice.

      The so-called "rising tide" is lifting only yachts.

      by Egalitare on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 06:55:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Privatizing public schools (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Friend of the court

    Arne gave the the billionaire boys club and wall street investors exactly what they paid for in campaign donations. Privatization and outsourcing poor kids' education  cutting costs in every sector possible. Large class sizes mean fewer teachers to pay as human capital is such a drag on profits.

    Our country will loose a generation of kids to enrich these sociopaths.

    •  The problem of course (0+ / 0-)

      is that the cost of privatizing poor kids' education so that the for-profit leeches can feed on tax dollars is that the middle class and upper-middle class kids take a hit too. And their parents are not silent.

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 08:17:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is a long planned attempt to privatize (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    World Patriot

    everything that is now publicly run. Shock Doctrine at work, in an insidious and cynical attempt to first undermine our educational system, then supply the voucher programs for our "failed" system. Who wins? Homeschoolers and private charter schools - often doctrinaire approaches which can merge religious "training" and assault on science.

    Meanwhile, we plummet in global standing in terms of literacy and the sciences.

    •  Special needs kids lack private or charter options (0+ / 0-)

      and are left behind for the public school system to deal with, and as the public system erodes and more parents of 'regular ed' kids pull their kids out for charter schools, the public system's ability to serve the special  ed population becomes fragile and less able to fulfill state and federal mandates, which don't apply to voucher schools.

      The parents of the kids have no recourse but the public school system, where state and federal mandates require they be provided special education.  The special needs education per pupil costs can exceed $20,000 to $30,000 per year or more, versus $6500 to $8000 for average kids, and require teams of specialist teachers certified in various physical and emotional disabilities, including Reading Specialists, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychologists & Social Workers, specialist aides, English as Second Language teachers, and others, including the provision of various educational assistance technology that enables them to read, write and learn. The mandates also apply to providing teachers able to deal with the most 'gifted & talented' kids at the top 1% to 2% of kids (but this is too often ignored without penalty in most struggling school systems).  

      As the population of 'regular' kids is increasingly siphoned off into voucher paid charter and private schools, the concentration increases of special needs kids left in the struggling hands of public schools, leaving public schools stuck with the highest per pupil costs, declining infrastructure, less staff, and especially robbing them of their ability to 'average' per pupil costs across the mainstream of students for all the tax paying public.  When special education costs were averaged in with a large majority population of regular education kids, state mandates and federal mandates, public schools could accommodate these and absorb the costs.  With declining proportion of 'regular ed' kids left in the mainstream public system, the rationale to keep facilities open and teachers on staff is increasingly pressured.  

      My question is why aren't the state and federal requirements (to address the needs of special education kids) being applied to the charter and private schools, which leaves them no choice but to remain in the public schools?  It looks to me like 'differently enabled kids' are getting left behind in our forced to crumble public schools, at the same time that public school teachers and administrations are being pushed harder and harder to make the average population score higher.  Talk about Mission Impossible, and yet teachers keep on trying...even as they realize this game is afoot.  IDEA and other federal and state laws pushed to get 'special ed' kids into mainstream classrooms with appropriate support from federal funds, so that these kids could be recognized and accepted as valued members of society.  Now it seems the 'mainstream' is being gutted and removed from the public system.  I fear too many average parents are uncomfortable with 'different' kids being in their own kids classrooms, and voucher schools give them a way to escape having to deal with them.

      The charter schools and private schools mostly want the segment of average to above average kids, those who can be taught using a 'cookie cutter' approach and no special programs, and these students will generally score increasingly higher than public schools even while delivering a mediocre education.  This diverting of 'regular kids' cuts the 'easier to educate' middle out of our public schools, and makes the public school per pupil costs rapidly increase as they are left with the most difficult to educate, requirements to make them perform higher than may be realistic, and requiring the most support services.  And not surprisingly, Wall Street finds this an exciting opportunity in which to invest and promote heavily!

      Our public schools also are left to cope with the top 1% or 2% of brilliant kids who also 'do not fit in' well with a charter or private school using a uniform 'cookie cutter' curriculum.  The latest draconian cuts in school budgets are killing music classes, art & foreign language classes, and especially the honors classes, AP (Advanced Placement for College Credit) classes, and other programs traditionally supporting the high to exceptionally high achievers.  It's cheaper and more expedient to just reduce the amount of credits and required courses required to graduate high school and pass on the problems down the line.  Too many average folks believe kids who are that smart will make it on their own anyway, when that actually is not true since they languish and atrophy in a slow moving dull curriculum, and may end up seeking out mischief instead.

      Under state and federal mandates, the exceptionally bright are also supposed to get special education meeting their needs, just like those with disabilities, since they may be quite advanced mentally yet socially & emotionally average or even below average.  Society losing these few brilliant minds into a vast privatized sea of McDonald's jobs readying education is losing future leaders, researchers, inventors, artists, and leaving them (and us) vulnerable should they pursue major antisocial mischief to relieve their boredom.  

      It's just not very wise to drop off a very bright 12 year old to attend college courses with swirling social world and sexually charged context of 18 to 22 year old young adults and expect the kid to cope like a mature 22 year old.  It puts an unanticipated burden on the college class instructor and unprepared campus administration, as well as the college students coping with having a precocious youngster in their midst who may be able to score higher than they on tests yet be easily intimidated in every other way.  College instructors are likely to lack the awareness, educational training and certification public school teachers have, and this likely will stress out the kid and parents.  In college, young kids don't get allowances or do-overs.  Getting individualized help and assistance often requires extra cash for tutors, and they need be good with school age kids.  The state and federal mandates for special education certainly won't transfer the public school teachers to the colleges to help these kids succeed.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 10:34:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You are way off. Actually, I only skimmed (0+ / 0-)

    your diary.  You are missing a very important aspect of the class size argument.

    Class size restrictions impede the birth of a new real estate bubble.

    In Florida, growth management laws had in place concurrency laws.  They required that infrastructure be financed and built concurrently with development.  That meant schools, roads, police were to be paid for now, instead of later after the developers had reaped their profits leaving the cost for taxpayers.

    Florida growth management laws have been gutted by Rick Scott.  This will help create another real estate bubble.

    The class size amendment law causes property taxes to go up.  It also caused the cost of development to go up.

    Real estate development and its construction industry draws a low income workforce to a state.  It draws poor families with young children.  Florida and California are similar in that respect.  The industry doesn't want to pay high wages and it surely doesn't want to pay to educate the children of its workers.

    Class size isn't about caring about the future of our children.  It's about MONEY!  It's about our only domestic industry whose jobs can't be exported.  It's about real estate speculation, the mortgage industry and WALL STREET!

  •  it's hard to take the bullshit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, jeff bryant

    If they would just say 'sorry, education is important, but there's no money for it', then we could have an argument about tax rates and priorities or an honest conversation about how to impose cuts to administrator and teacher pay, or whatever. But instead we are demonized and wished away with magical thinking.

  •  Ah yes, that good old small special ed class (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    my fifth period special ed class has 21 students. On what planet is this considered "small"?

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 06:56:35 AM PDT

  •  Yesterday, many were complaining (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about charter schools.  But when one thinks about what is happening with class size, it becomes clear why many parents are making the switch.

    The public charter my daughter attends was designed so that no more than 25 students can physically be placed in a classroom.  The school can only expand by adding more classes.  The regular public schools in our area are now cramming 39 students in elementary classes.  I have heard of junior high Algebra classes with 60 students.  Can you imagine teaching 60 hormone driven kids higher level thinking and expecting to succeed?

    I taught for a number of years in the California Community College system.  I believe that there is a great deal of financial waste in public education.  It's in inflated pay for administrator, ineffective regulations that lead to busy work in district offices, and ineffective and needless program requirements.

    Money is wasted in what is not needed -- at the expense of teachers and decent facility maintenance.

    "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

    by Going the Distance on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 07:10:04 AM PDT

  •  The problem is... (0+ / 0-)

    ...there's a lot of empirical data showing class size reductions don't help much (SB 1777 comes to mind) and maintaining small class size tends to be very expensive.

    I wouldn't say that class size doesn't correlate with student performance, I'm just afraid it may not correlate well enough to justify billions of dollars in cost.

    If parents really want small class sizes, they're going to have to vote for tax increases and bond issues, not just mandate the size and hope the Money Fairy makes a visit.

  •  Unless you have taught (0+ / 0-)

    or been very involved in your child's education, then class size does not seem like that big of a deal. Suck it up, just like folks have to do at work.
     Well, it turns out that children are not widgets and do not respond very well to the business model for education. Children in elementary school often need a little more guidance than a teacher with 30 kids in the classroom is able to provide. The Republican idea of increasing class size while laying off teachers and other instructional staff is hardly going to put our children in the position of leading the world in "smarts" and will definitely come back to bite our country in the long run.We will see the effects of this in social as well as economic conditions. More money for private prisons as well as low cost labor with better job skills
     overseas. Money,money,money and profits for the few at the expense of the many.
    I agree with those who posted above that dumbing down the kids of non-privileged will enable the kids from privileged
    to receive a superior education.
    Sigh....this disgusts me.

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