What can I realistically do to advocate for smaller class sizes?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by miss-m, Aug 12, 2018 at 8:26 PM.

  1. miss-m

    miss-m Habitué

    Oct 25, 2014
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    Aug 12, 2018 at 8:26 PM

    I'm curious for some input on this because as much as I try to avoid politics (even though I actually enjoy civilized political conversation), this is something that I feel like I can't just sit by and passively accept. It's maybe only marginally political but I feel like I don't know enough to make even that call.

    My school district redrew boundary lines maybe 4 or 5 years ago -- before I got hired. Unfortunately this resulted in an issue at my school: we have way too many students, despite being within a mile of at least two other elementary schools. There are 29 classrooms in my building, and at least 5 of them (including mine) were not even really meant to be classrooms. They've been retrofitted to accommodate the nearly 800 students we have had enrolled the past few years. This year is supposedly going to be slightly better; we've stopped accepting transfers and babysitter permits, but for my grade it's actually worse so far. I have 27 first graders on my roster, and the other 4 first grade classes are sitting at 26 or 27 as well. Every other grade is only slightly smaller, averaging 22-25.

    I love my school and I have no intention of leaving, so in that sense this is something I have to just accept and do the best I can with the students I've been assigned. I understand that. But it's also causing enormous amounts of stress (I've been having stomach problems for the past week that I finally connected to stress after a dream last night about my roster increasing to 30).

    So my activist side is coming out and I'm wondering what, if anything, can I realistically do to take action on this? Not necessarily to change anything this year, but to hopefully help get some changes in motion for coming years? I'm not a member of the NEA at the moment partly because of the cost of membership and partly because they seem to be primarily focused on pay scales and due process. While I get that those are important, they're not at the top of my radar. Class sizes is a much more pressing issue to me and has been for the past few years; it's not fair to the students OR the teachers to put so many children in a failing school and then wonder WHY we're failing. My first year, 4th grade was averaging 32-34 per class. I was up and down between 23-26 my entire first year.

    I have at least 4 students in my class who are 4 blocks from another elementary school. But because of the boundary lines, they're bused to mine. I feel like I need to do SOMETHING, but I have no clue what I can even begin to do. I'm open to joining the union if there's any chance that would help (plus we lost our building NEA rep so we need a new person to do that), but what else can I do?
  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Sep 30, 2001
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    Aug 13, 2018 at 6:27 AM

    Getting parents involved would be important here. There’s lots of research on class size and student achievement. Sharing that with parents and like-minded colleagues could start a dialog. Then the issue should be brought to your school based planning committee, school board, etc.
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  4. Janlee70

    Janlee70 Rookie

    Feb 6, 2018
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    Aug 13, 2018 at 12:20 PM

    There are regulations regarding the amount of square footage required for each student in a classroom. Age plays a factor in this. When my son was in 6th grade parents presented this concern at the Board of Education meeting. There was not enough space in the classroom for each student and their desk. When presented with the facts and regulations another class was added to ease the overcrowding. This could be something to look at for your particular state.
  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Connoisseur

    Jun 27, 2014
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    Aug 13, 2018 at 5:09 PM

    Totally agree with you. That’s why at my school the maximum class size is set at 25 because of what the research studies suggest in terms of student achievement and retention.
  6. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

    Aug 5, 2004
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    Aug 13, 2018 at 5:35 PM

    If you have an association, it could be raised as an issue at the next contract negotiations.

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