Reader's view: Middle school class sizes are too big
In a letter I sent to the Duluth school district and School Board, I described a video clip from TV that aired around 2005, during the Red Plan/Blue Plan debates. I'm in the video, full-frame, heartily defending the Red Plan at a district-sponsor...
In a letter I sent to the Duluth school district and School Board, I described a video clip from TV that aired around 2005, during the Red Plan/Blue Plan debates. I'm in the video, full-frame, heartily defending the Red Plan at a district-sponsored community meeting. With the significant annual savings promised by the district to come out of the plan's implementation, the Red Plan seemed like a fairly good deal.
Fast forward seven years: This fall my son is in the eighth grade at the newly renovated Ordean-East Middle School -- and we are supposed to finally be reaping the benefits of this $300 million endeavor.
Imagine my wife's and my dismay when we learned there are 47 -- yes, 47! -- students in my son's science class. There are similar numbers in his physical education and German classes. To say we are disappointed would not be nearly strong enough.
We grew up in Russia, a country obviously not as rich as the U.S. However, none of our classes were that large. We wonder whether the district misled us with its descriptions of Red Plan savings. Or perhaps priorities in using these savings were so radically different from those dictated by common sense?
Having taught for more than 20 years, I feel very strongly nothing is more important for the success of a student than the personal attention of a dedicated teacher, which is directly linked to the class size. From a response I received, I know at least one School Board member, Art Johnston, shares my conviction. I received no response from other School Board members yet.
I would like to know whether the district and the rest of the School Board agree with me about class sizes. If so, when will they put the money where the real needs are?
Michael A. Waxman