How does a kindergarten class of 40 sound to you? Or a high school class of 60? Well, in Detroit that can happen now.
I’ve never met any teacher who said bigger classes will make my job easier or help students learn more. However, I have often heard from those in power that class size really matters (and then the unspoken “for my kids”). Public schools are allowed to have bloated class sizes and inadequate resources, but the social elite ensure this never happens to their kids.
And still, none of this really gets to solving the real problem: poverty. Students in poverty are disproportionately at risk over all other students.
Raising expectations with new standards or additional required credits does not solve Johnny’s problems at home where his father left and his mother isn’t home much as she works so much. Higher expectations and new learning targets don’t help Cindy get the breakfast she misses every morning or the hits she takes each night from her step-father.
America’s students in schools with less than 10% poverty are among the world’s best while schools with more than 75% struggle mightily:
Poverty rates make a huge difference in student achievement. Few people are aware, for example, that in 2009 U.S. schools with fewer than 10 percent of student in poverty ranked first among all nations on the Programme for International Achievement tests in reading, while those serving more than 75 percent of students in poverty scored alongside nations like Serbia, ranking about fiftieth.
I only wish America’s policies matched the research and allowed this nation to solve the truest indicator of future success or failure: poverty.