If class size doesn’t matter…

…then why do private schools boast about their small classes and low student-teacher ratios? That’s the question former Lite Guv and State Sen. Bill Ratliff asks in the Chron.

When confronted with public decision-making, many people find it instructive to turn to the free market and examine its treatment of an issue. To examine the free market empirical evidence regarding school-class sizes, one only has to look at class sizes in private schools.

An analysis of the 91 Dallas-Fort Worth area private schools providing an education to students in kindergarten through grade four shows that the average class size for these private schools is 16 students — many have average class sizes of only 10 to 15. It seems illogical to assume that privately owned schools would adopt such costly class-size measures without some convincing rationale as to their value.

The argument is being made that class size doesn’t matter – that an excellent teacher can be more effective with 25 students than a poor teacher can with 15 students, and therefore we should not worry about class size but concentrate on putting an excellent teacher in every classroom. No doubt an excellent teacher in every classroom is a worthy goal.

However, that begs the question. It is not realistic to believe that all of our teachers will be excellent. Nor is it realistic to believe we will never have any marginal teachers. We have a dedicated teacher corps in Texas, but if you believe in the bell curve widely used by businesses for staffing decisions, our teacher corps will, for the most part, be made up of average teachers.

Therefore, the question that should be asked is, can an average teacher be more effective with fewer students than with more? No doubt parents think so, and by all evidence decision-makers in private schools also think so.

I for one would like to hear how our Republican state leaders answer this.

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One Response to If class size doesn’t matter…

  1. Brad M. says:

    I would expect the Republican leaders to respond with deafening silence. Or deny that teacher/student ratios even exsit in our state.

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