Although it is not all that unusual for legislators to ignore common sense, those who would repeal the important 221 class size cap for K4 are being aided and abetted by some welleducated people who should (and do) know better – school superintendents.
Many superintendents would rather give up that important educational standard than demand that the Legislature pay for quality public schools.
One rationalization, which was repeated by legislators and superintendents alike in the Senate Education Committee hearing this week, was that 22 is not a “magic figure” for an optimum class size. Research, they argue, has shown that you need to have a much smaller cap, about 18 or 15 students per class, before there are proven educational improvements.
Research has shown repeatedly that the smaller the class, the better the outcomes. If you want to take the time to read some of it, click on the link at the bottom of this post. It will take you to a collection of studies put together on the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association’s website.
It would be great if Texas could limit its primary grade classes to 18 or 15 students. That would give teachers an even greater opportunity to give young students the individual attention they need. But Texas doesn’t have 181 or 151. And, we aren’t going to get it this session. We have 221, and we have had it for a quarter of a century because it has worked. And I would argue with anyone that 221 is better than 241 or 251. So, why retreat?
During the committee hearing, Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro said a good teacher could do a great job with an elementary class of 35 students. Maybe some good teachers can, but Shapiro misses the point. If a good teacher can do a great job with 35 students, think of how even greater a job he or she can do with 22.