Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cutting Randi down to size

This excellent NY Daily News editorial nicely debunks the class size myth (I've also posted my slides on this at http://www.tilsonfunds.com/Personal/Classsize&teacherpay.pdf):
Repeat after me, boys and girls: Class size matters most. Class size matters most. If you say it enough, you just might believe it. That's what teachers union chief Randi Weingarten is counting on as she tries to dictate how the city spends billions in new state school aid...

All other things being equal, nudging class sizes down, particularly in the early grades, is not a bad idea. But states and cities that have set out to drive down student-teacher ratios have exacerbated teacher shortages, strained facilities and locked up money that could have been used to greater effect by, say, raising salaries to attract quality math and science teachers - or rewarding the teachers who do the best job.

What's more, class-size evangelists ignore the fact that nationwide, we've seen a consistent decline in student-teacher ratios over the last generation - a slide that has been more or less mirrored in the city, yet hasn't paid dividends in student performance. But there is one way in which cutting class sizes would be effective: It would increase the ranks of dues-paying union members. That couldn't possibly be Weingarten's motive, could it?

Cutting Randi down to size
NY Daily News editorial

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