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@NCCapitol

Senate committee calls for ending class-size caps

Posted April 17, 2013

— A bill approved Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee would end a decade-old policy of restricting classes in kindergarten through third grade to no more than 24 students.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, committee co-chairman and a leading sponsor of Senate Bill 374, said the legislation is designed to give school districts more flexibility in how they spend their limited resources rather than dictating that elementary schools hire enough teachers to accommodate the class-size cap.

"I don't know if 10 kids in a classroom is better than 15 or not," said Tillman, R-Randolph, a retired school administrator. "I don't know what the ideal number is, and neither do you."

Former Gov. Mike Easley backed limiting the size of classes after he was elected in 2000 as a way to improve student performance. Educators say research indicates that a student-teacher ratio of about 15:1 provides the needed individual attention for young students to boost achievement.

Tillman said each school and each district has distinct needs, and administrators shouldn't have their hands tied in how they meet those needs as long as they succeed in that task.

"Get me results, and I don't care," he said. "If you have 30 or 13 (students in a class), I care less. I do care whether you made progress or not, and we're going to grade you on that."

The bill also calls for districts to post information online each summer of how they spent state money to achieve local educational priorities.

Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, expressed concern about the impact on poorer districts. Giving administrators carte blanche on how to spend money could hurt students when there's not much to go around in the first place, she said.

The proposal split two traditional educational allies.

Brian Lewis, political director for the North Carolina Association of Educators, warned that larger elementary school classes could leave teachers scrambling, especially if lawmakers approve Gov. Pat McCrory's proposal to eliminate thousands of teaching assistant positions in next year's state budget.

"We are cutting more resources and allowing school districts to cut more resources from the classroom," said Lewis, who called for a handful of districts to experiment with spending flexibility before implementing the idea statewide.

Leanne Winner, government relations director for the North Carolina School Boards Association, said districts need more flexibility in tight budget times. Many districts would prefer to have smaller classes in reading and math but larger classes for other subjects, she said.

"We hope you will give us this flexibility. We think it will aid our districts in helping children in their education," Winner said.

The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

70 Comments

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  • rcherry132004 Apr 22, 5:47 a.m.

    This is related to the comments more than the article itself but... I like how everyone TALKS about the next election. I would be totally shocked and amazed if even 1 of these people were voted out of office. Apparently the general population is in favor of these moves since they elected a governor who will rubber stamp all of these measures. All I can say is you get what you vote for.

  • lbofnonsense Apr 18, 6:29 p.m.

    Listen up teachers, because over the next several years we are going to need you to (1) be happy with your poor rate of pay...and of course you know by now not to ever expect a raise; (2) smile when 40 kids show up in your classroom, which by the way if you're a 2nd or 3rd grade teacher you'll be losing your Teacher Assistant; (3) teach all 40+ kids to write in cursive...you know, so they may write "proper" thank you notes to the state officials; and (4) whatever you do please hold your complaints in 2018 when tenure goes away.

    Just our lovely states way of saying "Thank you for all you do."

  • krimson Apr 18, 11:58 a.m.

    Part of the GOP plan...

    1. Take the 24 from one and put them in the other to make 48.
    2. Fire the extra teacher.
    3. Point to the tax-savings and pat yourself on the back.

  • goldenosprey Apr 18, 10:56 a.m.

    "Back in those days students couldn't be disrespectful and disruptive and get away with it. There is a quote from Star Trek, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one." This quote is the direct opposite of what is going on now in public schools. Resources, time and energy are put into the most disruptive students. The kids know full well that they can say and do just about anything and get away with it." sisu

    Sounds like Mr. Spock was a socialist!

    One of the major reasons kids can get away with a lot more lip, or in your case, chair, is the culture of individualism and anti-collectivism fostered by republicans and Ayn Rand quoting tea partiers. Next time a child acts out in school and avoids consequences, thank a conservative.

  • yinyangtkdgirl Apr 18, 9:18 a.m.

    how about we just do away with education altogether and let the kids run wild

  • Apex E Apr 17, 10:55 p.m.

    Tillman's a retired administrator, but he's not sure about the effects of classroom size? I am glad that he's retired from public education. Our next step is to vote him out of the General Assembly.

  • miseem Apr 17, 7:24 p.m.

    I went to school back in "those days" and don't recall any classes in elementary school that had over 25 kids.

  • KermitDFrog Apr 17, 5:54 p.m.

    First they plan to cut the teaching assistants. Now, they want to increase the class size from 24 to ???

    It's funny how our 'leaders' say we need a better, educated America for the future jobs. Their actions certainly don't line up with the rhetoric they spew around election time.

  • sisu Apr 17, 5:44 p.m.

    For those going back to the "good old days" when you could have 35 kids in a class, here's a newsflash.

    Back in those days students couldn't be disrespectful and disruptive and get away with it. There is a quote from Star Trek, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one." This quote is the direct opposite of what is going on now in public schools. Resources, time and energy are put into the most disruptive students. The kids know full well that they can say and do just about anything and get away with it.

    I have been shocked at the way kids are allowed to speak to teachers. There's this huge mega process with all the I's dotted and T's crossed and still the teacher/administration has to kiss the tushies of the disruptive kids and their parents.

    If teachers weren't in fear for their jobs or of sue-happy people things could get done.

    When I was teaching a student threw a chair at me. He got a day of OSS. The parent took him to Dollywood. Some punishment.

  • WooHoo2You Apr 17, 4:54 p.m.

    I’m tired of “subsidizing” children, fed up with “socialized” schools, sick of “free” education ;)

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