Every tax is a pay cut.  Every tax cut is a pay raise.
Citizens for Limited Taxation

The Rush to Smaller Class Size: A Cost Benefit Perspective
by: Ralph Wilbur

One of the most potent forces, if not the most formidable influence, driving school budgets today is the pervasive belief that smaller class sizes ensure better academic achievement.  Parents simply take for granted that smaller class sizes mean better education. Teachers unions get more members.  Administrators get more staff. It's all just wonderful.  Who would dare throw a wet blanket on this scenario?

But there is one thing wrong. There is little credible evidence supporting the view that reduction in class size results in better pupil achievement.

Not only do reduced class sizes result in burgeoning costs for new teachers, but they also bring about a need to build more classrooms and more school buildings, and all the subsiduary costs that such capital expenditures demand.  These costs consume all budgetary resources and threaten the affordability of alternative education improvement strategies.

We have witnessed a downsizing in class sizes now for over 10 years along with a decline in SAT test scores.

It seems obvious that a smaller class size would produce better results, but in another age it seemed obvious that the Earth was flat, or that the heavens revolved around the Earth. There is no evidence that comes close to providing evidence that smaller class sizes produce any tangible academic results other than much higher costs.

There are those who validate the concept of lowering class sizes by directing our attention to the education hierarchy's recommendations. Need we be reminded that Departments of Education, and the upper echelons of the education establishment nationally, have been active participants in the decline of academic achievement nationwide over the past several decades. They are largely responsible for the implementation of class size reduction policies, as well.

Weinberg's Principle:
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.

While Phil Dinsky whines about the financial drain the new charter school causes, he fails to tell you why the charter school was created. The state allows the creation of such schools when sufficient parents believe that the education mandate has failed within the school system. The charter school is not under the School Committee. Its teachers are not unionized.

There are competing needs for funding services in every city and town.  There are limited resources to provide such funding.  It is the duty of those who would direct close to 50% of a community's tax revenues to ensure that moneys expended are going to achieve the goals promised.  Leaving this all to the educator's "efforts" is not such a good idea.

Should we "bet the farm" on a hunch, or should resource be committed to identifiable and proven methods to improve student achievement?

Miscellaneous Rambling Thoughts On Our Schools
I propose that each and every teacher in the Framingham school system be required to take the MCAS. The results would in no way affect the job security of the teacher, but it would give the citizens of Framingham some idea of the differences in teachers.

Many people will tell me that Framingham has great schools.  Can someone please tell me a town or city in the Metrowest area that has worst scores than we do in Framingham ?  SAT scores or MCAS scores will suffice.  It seems that the more we spend, the faster we get to the bottom.

While the School Committee attempts to formulate the rudimentary elements of organic bureaucratic intelligence, our schools are becoming a rising tide of mediocrity.

I'd rather have 30 students in front of a good teacher instead of 15 students in front of a mediocre teacher.

The concept of differential learning implies that we all learn at our own pace. It is also a concept being pushed by teachers to increase their numbers by pushing the student/teacher ratio down to one. A bunch of Hooie!

Most of this page are excerpts from Ralph Wilbur's paper.

Send comments to: hjw2001@gmail.com