Mitt Romney and the Goldwater Institute agree: Raise class sizes

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by David Safier

Class size doesn't matter. How do I know? Mitt Romney and Matthew Ladner, formerly of the Goldwater Institute, tell me so.

Romney is a newcomer at this game, so let's go back to Matthew Ladner, circa 2009. Writing for G.I., he said we should pay great teachers — "rock stars," he likes to call them — six figure salaries. But he doesn't want to spend more money on education. In fact, he wants to spend less. The solution is to load enough students into the rock stars' classrooms that there's a net cut in spending.

Here's how he puts it.

Research shows . . . that students would be much better off if schools did let their most ineffective teachers go, and redistributed the students to more effective instructors. Teacher quality has been found to be 10- to 20-times more important than class size in achieving student learning gains. Schools could thereby cut their spending and improve student learning simultaneously.

I was an English teacher, but the math here is simple enough, even I can do it. An average Arizona teacher makes about $45,000. A teacher making a six figure salary would cost more than double that. If today's elementary teacher is seeing 35 kids in a class, the remaining rock stars would have 70 kids or more. But that shouldn't phase them, according to Ladner. They can continue to provide the same great education they were giving those 35 kids — which is already 10 more than any elementary school teacher should be responsible for, especially if the kids come to school with educational deficiencies.

But you know, he has a point. I mean, look, rock stars perform to thousands of people at a time. What's 70 or 80 kids? Piece of cake!

OBAMA AND CLASS SIZE NOTE: Obama made an unfortunate choice when he picked Arne Duncan as his Ed Supe. The man is barely on the neo-liberal side of conservative "education reform." Duncan has made similar "class size doesn't matter" statements. His might not be as blatant as Romney's, but Duncan makes it harder for the Obama campaign to draw a distinction.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Class size does matter. Here’s how I know.

    First, I’m a teacher.

    Second, the Gilbert Leadership Program just posted this recently:

    Although the program is limited to 25 participants, it usually accommodates 27 on the chance that one or two may drop off due to unforeseen circumstances.

    “If it’s over 27, you ruin the dynamics of the class,” said Kathy Tilque, Chamber president, explaining that more than that number would make it less of a cohesive group.

    Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/2012/05/16/20120516gilbert-leadership-searching-21st-class.html#ixzz1w2BrciWn

    Kathy Tilque DOESN’T WANT MORE THAN 25 ADULTS in her class. Imagine if they were young children with special needs…

  2. Good points, but there’s one thing here drives me nucking futz, Doc Word…

    People are ‘fazed’ or ‘not fazed’ by adverse conditions…they’re not twisting 90 degrees to the normal phase of like polarized light…8-p

  3. But AZ, think of the children! Think of the children! Maybe you can cut a door small enough for them to crawl out but too big for Horne or Romney.

    Seriously, I’ve always had that same dream. Make these all-knowing education gurus spend a week in an elementary classroom or teaching a full middle or high school teacher’s schedule. Make them do it without a net — no teacher in the back of the room, no one handing them lesson plans. If it’s so damn easy to do well, let them show us how.

    These would either end up as much more humble education reformers, or they’d blame the kids and their parents who didn’t raise them right.

  4. I write as a retired Kindergarten ESL teacher (in central Phoenix with average class sizes of 30-32 with only a part time aide). I always wanted to lock Tom Horne, alone, into my classroom for an hour, and then ask him what he thought about class size. Time to usher the Goldwater Institute ‘experts’ and Romney through that open overcrowded classroom door. . . then lock it.

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