|The mayor's daughters went to Spence, where class size hovers between 10 and 15.|
Mayor Bloomberg told an MIT crowd that if he were king, he would fire half the teachers and double class sizes. The mayor of Wall Street contends that larger class size is a no-brainer, that the research is "unambiguous." He can't understand all the fuss over his remarks, which he now claims were taken "out of context."
“Double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for students.” -- Mayor Bloomberg
Michael Powell, writing in yesterday's NYT, says there's an “autumn of the patriarch” feel to Mayor Bloomberg these days. He paints a vivid picture of the devastation caused by his education policies, especially in the city's poorest neighborhoods.
Many schools, particularly those serving the poorest, remain fractured. The Daily News discovered that Grace Dodge High School in the Bronx had failed to provide 300 students with English teachers. At Taft High School in the Bronx, the dropout rate spiked to 70 percent from 25 percent in the four years before it closed in 2006.There’s a "final oddity," writes Powell.
Among the so-called meritocratic elite, low teacher-to-child ratios are beloved. The mayor’s daughters went to Spence, where classes hover from 10 to 15. Trinity, Dalton, Riverdale, Horace Mann: All charge $35,000 or more per year, and classes rarely exceed 12 in the lower grades. These schools boast of teachers with advanced degrees. That’s true of Brooklyn Tech. Yet teachers at the latter feel like paper tossed into a receptacle.The mayor is right in one sense. The research on class size, where it exists, is "unambiguous." The preponderance showing the benefits to elementary school students of smaller class size, regardless of the quality of the teacher. Every major study (see Class Size Matters which provides a great clearinghouse for class size research) shows that smaller is better.
Teaching children is much more than delivering information in a lecture hall setting. If Bloomberg had ever taught he would know this. Ironically, he does know it but only when it comes to the schooling of his own kids. A comparison could easily be made with Chicago's own ownership society mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who claims there's unambiguous benefits of a longer school day with more seat time for the city's poorest children, but then sends his own kids to a private school with shorter school days and school year.