Monday, September 10, 2007

Reduce Class Sizes Now!

Reducing class size in the Philadelphia public schools remains a central mission of Parents United. After more than a year long campaign to raise attention to increasing class sizes, Parents United finally achieved a small measure of success in August 2007 when the School Reform Commission adopted a 5-year plan to reduce class sizes across the city. But for most parents, five years is too long. Talk about class sizes and why it matters here!

6 comments:

mansei said...

Note: A Rant on Class Size

In today's Daily News (9/18/07), reporter Mensah Dean referred to the Parents United blog on "Back to School" to talk about burgeoning class sizes. You can read the story here.

Crowded class irks NE mother
Sees problems at Lincoln High
http://www.google.com/accounts/RP?c=CIn-3ry28eTxvgEQ656K9su-nOQt&hl=en

A couple of things to note about the story. First, Mensah, give Parents United credit for the blog that allows parents to post information like this. It's amazing that there are precious few places parents can go to share their concerns, comments or questions about the public schools.

Second, overcrowding cannot be defined by the maximum stipulated in a teachers' union contract. Come on! No other District in this Commonwealth tolerates class sizes of 30/33. And the District allots teachers according to the maximum in the contract, so it pretty much forces all the schools towards that 30/33 number otherwise that school is tagged as
"underenrolled."

Since when was having a spacious school a problem? Could we not use classrooms for tutoring centers? A lower grade and middle grade library/study center? Could we ever dream of a science lab in so called "underenrolled schools"? Couldn't "underenrolled" schools have dreams of 20/25 students in a class instead of lying in fear of the October headcount?

What's with the factory mentality of cramming as many kids as possible into schools?

Final point to the Daily News story: The burgeoning class size is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of seeing impacts of budget cuts. For every school with a class in the 40s there are plenty in the upper 20s or 30s which have lost teaching assistants, programs, paper, supplies, enrichment and field trip money, etc.

More important, almost every school in this district has seen a loss of personnel in some form or another. And when we talk about things like security or school violence, this is what we parents are worried about -- the lack of caring responsible adults at school. You can't measure that by class size alone.

cookie said...

This is ridiculous my son, who attends Lincoln High School, informed me that there were 41 students in several of his classes when he came from school on the first day.I was shocked. He did not look so happy about that and I wasn't either. Something has got to be done about that.

Parents United said...

Dear Cookie: The good news is that the situation at Lincoln hasn't gone unnoticed.

The Daily News story on Lincoln, the Metro's coverage of Bache Martin and other news coverage on class size has meant that there's some pressure on the district to address this issue ASAP. They have even set up a class size hotline, 215-400-4000 where parents or teachers or advocates can report class sizes larger than 33.

The only problem is that the District's solution to overcrowding? Leveling. Which means other schools see tremendouos disruption and loss of teachers when the District simply refuses to hire teachers to fill needed spaces.

frances said...

My daughter attends the Robert B Pollock Elementry school, and I am concerned about my daughter's kindergarden class. I was very disappointed and worried when I got to know that there are 30 students with one teacher, and no teacher-aide. Why should Philadelphia students get the worst of education?

The maximum ratio is suppose to be 15 kids to an adult, so why Philadelphia is not going by that? These are kids that have been in daycare with two or three teacher-aides, or been at home with their moms, so how can you take them out of that, and put them in a boothcamp. I called it a boothcamp because of the many rules they will have to go by, and less attention. That is not all to it, my daughter is also sharing a cubby with another student in the class, which I think it is just too much. The cubby is so little, but she has to share with another child.

Philadelphia, it is time we try to do better for our kids. If we are taking that much of kids in one class, at least, let us provide a teacher-aide.

Teressa Price aka Maj's Mom said...

My son attends Huey Elementary/ Edison School. He’s in Kindergarten and although I’m pleased with his teacher, as a parent and educator I am extremely concerned about the class size. My son has 28 students in his class.

I spoke to the vice principal briefly and followed up with a hard copy letter and email to the principals to discuss my safety concerns and the chaotic morning arrival in the school yard. There was shooting around the corner last week and a parent witnessed a CEP student light fire to cigarette carton in front of the school this morning. To date, I’ve yet to receive any response from anyone. I personally escort my son into the front entrance of the school every morning at 8:35 to avoid the barrage of profanity and violence in the school yard.

I thought that diverse providers like Edison were given additional funding to provide smaller class size or add additional teaching staff to improve the teacher:child ratios.
Who should I contact because we were told at the beginning of the year we would have 4 Kindergarten classes and we only have 3 averaging 28-30+ children with one teacher.

Last week, I also asked about the feeding program. I pack my child’s lunch most days so he isn’t subjected to the over processed, empty calories the district provides… Now that they’ve dumped the Aramark contract – what are they going to do to improve the lunch program? Oh and by the way – am I crazy for thinking it’s utterly ridiculous for my son has to eat his lunch @ 10:30 AM – (even though he eats his lunch in his classroom)?

Parents United said...

From an email sent to Parents United from Jackson Elementary School, 10/5/07, 8:22 p.m.:

We currently have two split classes, a 1st/2nd grade and 3rd/4th grade. I have read over and over again that the district would eliminate the splits as soon as possible. The Center City Region has also told some of my parents that the split would be eliminated by Friday, Oct. 4th. As of today, Oct. 4th both split classes have not been eliminated. We are expected to teach both grades a completely different curriculum simultaneously. It is utterly impossible. These children are getting half of an education as we spend half the time instructing one group while the other works independently.

We also have a 5th grade vacancy that has not been filled and an 8th grade with 38 students. There was an article in the Philadelphia Daily News this week that stated overcrowding is no longer an issue and split classes were going to be eliminated. We desperately needs teachers at Jackson Elementary.