Better Teachers, Not Tinier Classes, Should Be Goal.
Post, 2 Mar 2009 (Jay Matthews)
Many readers will probably consider this long opinion piece by the Post's education columnist to be heresy, but I am inclined to agree with Mr. Matthews.
The school system I attended from grades 2 to 12 had class sizes in the low to mid 30s. For two years we not only had larger classes, but also split sessions with half the high school grades in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.
In my opinion, we received an education far superior to what is typical in Prince George's County. We certainly had better teachers (poor teachers were not retained), and more stringent requirements than I saw when my child was in Prince George's County schools in the 1980s and 1990s. Truancy and dropouts were almost unknown. Over 80% of my graduating class went from high school to either college or a recognized trade school.
Far more important than class sizes are good teachers who care and are allowed to teach and challenge, not hog-tied by rules that prevent them from being most effective; discipline; and parents who care. No amount of money thrown at small classes will make up for poor teachers, poor curricula, lack of discipline; or parents who don't parent.
(Posted 2 Mar 2009)