Yesterday’s LA Times editorial about class sizes at Locke High School was a telling reminder of what education can be when decisions are made based on what is best for our children.
And a tour of classrooms -- English, math, chemistry -- shows fewer students in each. Average class sizes, which had hovered in the low 30s last year, are now in the mid-20s.
This isn't just a change from the year before; it stands in marked contrast to the Los Angeles Unified School District and many other public school systems that have laid off teachers and increased class sizes because of miserable education funding.
So it is instructive to study the ways in which Green Dot managed to lower class sizes to levels that would be the envy of many more affluent California public schools. Such an examination reveals the years of neglect and mismanagement by L.A. Unified; it also sheds light on the historically inefficient use of revenue in the district that has kept money out of classrooms.
The article goes on to describe the ways in which this has been achieved- by going after state funding for low-income students that LAUSD never bothered to pursue, by shrinking their bureaucracy and spending only 6% of their operating funds outside the classroom, and by empowering principals to save money instead of empowering bureaucrats to spend it. Common sense stuff, right?
Saying that this stands in “marked contrast” to LAUSD may be an understatement. A recent LAT article documented some classrooms with over 50 students- at Fairfax High, the average social studies, art, and science class has 47 students in it. Although research has shown that class size is not the most important factor affecting student performance, classes of this magnitude place an absurd strain on teachers and students alike.
And these sort of common sense principles aren’t limited to just Green Dot or charter operators. Both Glendale Unified and Long Beach Unified – the latter of which is an urban district that consistently outperforms LAUSD – have managed to limit class size increases in a way LAUSD parents and teachers can only dream about. It’s well past time for LAUSD to dismantle its ridiculous bureaucracy, put more money into the classroom, and build a 21st century school system designed around what is best for our children.