I usually don't take the time to write the editor of the local paper or my congressman/woman or to the principal of my children's schools unless I am really bothered by something. This time, I am not only bothered but very concerned because the future of our children's education in the Kyrene School District is at risk. A recent email was sent to teachers of the Kyrene School District letting them know what options were being considered to compensate for the loss of revenue to the district due to the state reducing the budget. The very first suggestion was to increase class size.
The only people directly impacted by increased class sizes are the classroom teachers and the students. It is the easy solution for our decision makers because only one group of all district employees is affected. In a time when academic expectations are becoming increasingly demanding, increasing class size should be the last consideration.
As a district, Kyrene should do everything possible to give teachers an opportunity to help our children reach the academic goals set forth by the district/state, and yet an oversized classroom results in most of the teachers' energies being spent on behavior management and classroom control.
Let me see if I can suggest a few creative ways to save money: Why don't we stop putting only one student on a bus with 60 seats and driving him/her across town (I, however, have to drive my student who lives 3.94 miles from school)? Why don't we stop paying academic coaches to drive from school to school to help teachers, but only have time to come into the classroom a handful of times per year for very short intervals? Why don't we stop spending money to teach optional health curriculum? Why don't we stop paying a driver and gas for a bus that transports 15 students when it holds 60? Why don't we stop paying one aide to spend 20 to 30 hours with one child because they cannot control their behavior in the classroom (is this the taxpayers' responsibility?). Why don't we stop offering a long list of optional classes taught by teachers (who are paid by the district)? Why don't we stop sending teachers to expensive seminars/conferences/trainings and paying for their substitutes? Why don't we stop paying specialists to teach our teachers how to teach but who never work directly with students? Why don't we stop having multiple people on the school campuses who don't actually work directly with educating children? Why don't we just get back to the basics and put our resources into those who are being educated and those who educate? It just doesn't seem that complicated.
I realize that the list above may not completely represent the same "pot of money" that impacts class size, but my point is this: There seem to be so many ways Kyrene could cut spending/waste to avoid larger class sizes that will impact learning in a positive way. Increasing class size affects every student and every teacher, which represents the largest group in our district. When are we going to get smart and take responsibility for getting our priorities straight? Our priority should be to educate children and support those who educate them.