“There is no evidence that the Federal taxpayer investments in existing professional development programs or class-size reduction have meaningfully improved student outcomes. In fact, students may be better served by being in larger classes, if by hiring fewer teachers, a district or state can better compensate those who have demonstrated high ability and outstanding results.” — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, March 26, 2019
At first, I was like, “MORE students in my class? I already have 50! But maybe I’m not thinking outside the box. And by box, I mean a small classroom with no resources and 50 students.” Then I thought, “If Betsy DeVos — someone with zero experience in education — thinks larger classes are better, I need to focus on how I can serve not just 50 students per class, but 150 students per class.”
No big deal. Hardly any difference at all. I mean, according to our math teacher, Mr. Carpenter, that’s a 200% increase. But is he our nation’s education chief, OR is he just some guy with 15 years teaching experience, a BA, a credential, an EdD, AND a second job?
You tell me, who knows more about public education? Someone who is a public school teacher or someone who hates public schools.
Also, what’s kind of great about the DeVos Approach™ (an official pedagogical approach, meaning: “Teachers: Who needs ‘em?”) is that with this many students per class, many of them will fall through the cracks. Sometimes because the school system is underfunded and overcrowded, sometimes because there are actual cracks in the floor that haven’t been fixed because there is no money for infrastructure.
Here’s the other amazing thing about having larger class sizes: We will need fewer teachers. Fewer! At first, I was like, Whoa! You are crazy, girl! Fewer teachers? That seems counterintuitive. And, according to all educational research, it is.
BUT have those “researchers” considered how needing fewer teachers would benefit educators? For example, I wouldn’t have to teach all five days; I would work three days at my school and two at my second job at Chili’s! I’m looking forward to sharing a Skillet Queso with Mr. Carpenter, who has reminded me that we will save 10% with our employee discount. Plus, I’ll still be using my English degree by reading the menu’s specials, while Mr. Carpenter will use his math degree when realizing no one tips 20%, and Ms. Keating will use her science degree by seeing if tears collected in whiskey shots change their chemistry.
But shouldn’t we be concerned about who will be teaching our country’s children on those other two days? Yes, we should, actually. That’s why we have technology. Anything a teacher can do, a PC with Windows 95 can do better! Who says a PowerPoint shown on loop can’t inspire the next generation!?
I mean, sure, a computer doesn’t know how to encourage curiosity, point out imagery in a poem, discuss civil rights, notice the kid in the back is being bullied, stay after school to tutor, make sure students are getting enough meals, differentiate the curriculum, go on a field trip, or choose a novel that hooks a reluctant reader. BUT a computer doesn’t need a salary or care how many students are in the room. Seems like a no brainer to me. A computer also isn’t going “boo hoo hoo” when it has to grade 150 essays. You know why!? Because it’s a computer. And also because it will be using Scantrons.
In the end, most of these students will be offered vouchers or transfer to charter schools anyway. Then those who are left will be proud to follow in the footsteps of the noble profession of out of work school teacher/potential — fingers crossed — shift manager at a Chili’s. Discount Skillet Queso, here I come!