by Félix Pérez
At a time when the rest of the world is racing to out-educate America; these cuts force our kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and shorten the school week and the school year.
-President Barack Obama, August 18, 2012
The new school year has begun or is soon to begin. For way too many students, though, that means larger class sizes and fewer school programs because of continuing educator layoffs — 7,000 last month alone — according to a White House report released yesterday.
President Barack Obama, in his weekly address to the nation, called on Congress yesterday to prevent further layoffs and rehire educators who have lost their jobs.
“Teachers matter. Most work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies – just to make a difference. They give everything for our kids – and in return, we should invest in them,” said President Obama.
According to the report, “Investing in Our Future: Bringing Teachers Back to the Classroom,” more than 300,000 local education jobs have been slashed since 2009, resulting in a 4.6 percent increase in the teacher-to-student ratio from the fall of 2008 to the fall of 2010.
The report states, “A detailed look at the evidence – based on well-designed randomized experiments – confirms that larger class sizes have lasting negative effects: lowering high-school graduation rates, reducing the chance that students take college entrance exams like the ACT or SAT, and lowering the chance of college enrollment and completion.”
President Obama urged Congress to act on the jobs bill he sent to Congress last September, which provides states support to keep teachers in the classroom. “But here we are – a year later with tens of thousands more educators laid off – and Congress still hasn’t done anything about it.”
Arizona high school math teacher and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel applauded the president for recognizing the importance of class size in student achievement. “Class size is a critical piece of the school improvement puzzle and we cannot ignore the positive effect that personalized learning has for kids. As the president has said, when we are looking for solutions that work, let’s not overlook common sense fixes like smaller class size and early education.”
Van Roekel criticized presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his assertion that there is no link between class size and student performance. “Gov. Romney has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in the impact of keeping class sizes small, despite evidence to the contrary and despite what parents across this country know.”
Recently, Romney’s class size claim was challenged during a roundtable discussion he participated in with Philadelphia teachers.
“I can’t think of any teacher in the whole time I’ve been teaching, for 10 years, 13 years, who would say that more students [in the classroom] would benefit,” said one of the teachers to Romney. “And I can’t think of a parent that would say I would like my child to be in a room with a lot of kids and only one teacher.”
- Help share the Romney Etch A Sketch picture and remind Romney that class size matters.
- Learn more about where Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama stand on issues that matter to educators, working families and the middle class. Go to EdVotes’ Election 2012 page. Receive EdVotes’ weekly email alert.