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PUBLISHED: 5:33 PM on Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Floyd Dryden Voicesoices: Cut the masses in the classes
Every day your children arrive there. There, they acquire the knowledge that will help them later in life. But some of today's children aren't learning as well as they should be, and something needs to be done about it. Every year the school district spends more and more money on tests, but the true answer lies elsewhere. The class sizes in the Juneau School District need to be smaller.

First of all, students in smaller classes generally perform better in academics than those in larger classes. Project STAR was a project run in Tennessee from 1985 to about 1999. It compared the academics of kindergarten through third grade children taught in smaller classes (13-17 kids) to those in larger classes (22-26 kids). The results were stunning. The small class children substantially outperformed the larger class children. The rates of second grade suspension went down. The district even went from low tier in math and reading to middle tier in the state. Since smaller classes have been proven to outperform larger classes, then we should transition to smaller class sizes.

Secondly, being in smaller classes early on has lasting effects throughout the child's years in school. Project STAR saw that fourth grade children who had been in smaller classes in K-3 were better behaved, probably due to the less discipline needed to quiet a smaller class. Students also had better grades than those in larger classes, even when taking into account demographics, resources, and cost of living, according to a study by Harold Weglinsky. The Weglinsky study, which pretty much repeated the Project STAR studies but in different cities, also showed that fourth graders in the inner city were three quarters of a grade level ahead of children enrolled in larger classes. There was also a stronger bond between students. I know the bond part is true because last year in band class we had a grand total of ten people. We all got to know each other better.

The story doesn't end there. Project STAR also noted that the small class kids found in high school, and were more likely to graduate on schedule and less likely to drop out. More smaller class kids were found in honors classes, and more took the SATs and ACTs, indicating a higher rate of going to college. Since studies prove again and again that smaller classes are better for your kids, isn't it the logical choice?

The benefits of smaller class sizes keep going on. Smaller class sizes can actually save money. In smaller classes, there's a smaller teacher to child ratio, so that means that there's more time for children to talk directly to the teacher for assistance. Children receive a more personalized education that fits their needs. In smaller classes early on, during K-3 years, teachers can give personalized education to those who may have learning problems, rather than referring his or her parents to costly special education programs. Fewer children get left out since teachers don't have as many kids to teach. Since smaller classes save money, why shouldn't classes downsize?

The more and more time we take, the more children are left undereducated, the more money we spend on special education, tests, and false answers. Cutting class sizes is proven to be better. It saves your money, your child's education, and their future. We should minimize the classes as soon as possible in order to make sure our children get the education they need. If we don't act now, it could be too late for an entire generation of children.


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