2009-12-25 / Columnists

School Scope

Low Class Size Is A Precious Commodity
Commentary By Norman Scott

I saw the riveting movie “Precious.” I heard a lot about it but hadn’t realized how much it was about teaching and education.

Precious, a black teen ager who had two children after being raped by her father and suffers from one of the most awful mothers imaginable, is given an opportunity to go to an alternative school, where a dedicated teacher helps save her and her classmates.

We know the education deformers – and we have to make note that Oprah was a key person behind this film and her Chicago roots and attachments to Obama probably put her in that category – will make the amazing teacher, Ms. Blu Rain, the key element. But the small size of the group (there looks to be about 8 kids in the class) with which she is working is a crucial element. Could Ms. Rain accomplish her miracles with a full or even mediumsized class? Just watch how this factor is ignored.

Contrast that situation to Precious’ former middle school where her favorite teacher struggles to control a rowdy math class and is presented as being ineffective. But if he and Ms. Rain were to switch places, I wonder how things would work out? Would Ms. Rain be able to have 30 rowdy kids multiplied by 5 classes work on their writing and be able to read and comment on every one every day? Could she take into her home the numerous kids in trouble she would face?

Think of the enormous effort on the part of one teacher to save this one child and add the multiplier effect. “Too expensive,“ the ed deformer Joel Kleinites will say as they whine, “It has been shown that throwing cash at the problem doesn’t solve it.” Well they threw cash at GM, AIG, Bear Sterns and goodness knows what else. The Precious people of this world apparently don’t deserve to have cash thrown at an at tempt to solve their problems by those deformers claiming to be fighting for civil rights.

In the hubbub over the film “Precious,” don’t forget one of the keys to the film is the extremely low class size and the support mechanism the school provides. The fourth season of The Wire also showed a troubled class of low class size and more than one adult in the room as being effective. BloomKlein, with all the money they have been throwing around, never tried one case of inun dating a poorly performing school with piles of teachers and support services before closing it.

Expensive? Hell, yes. But they are throwing around 500 billion in stimulus money to force states to adopt their narrow, corporate anti-union agenda focused on blaming teachers.

Ask why they don’t offer it to systems that figure out ways to reduce class size and you begin to understand that the true agenda is to move the control of schools out of public control and into private hands.

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