With many school districts trying to cut their deficits, the importance of class sizes often falls at the center of deliberation.
Eva Moskowitz, founder of a collection of charter schools in Harlem and the Bronx asks in a Washington Post Op/Ed piece in The Washington Post whether the benefits of smaller classes truly justify the cost.
Reducing class sizes means spending much more on teacher salaries. Less than three percent of New York public schools' budgets goes towards instructional supplies, textbooks, library funds and computer support, Moskowitz explains.
Basic supplies are rationed in absurd ways: A school will pay $5 million in salaries to teachers who end up wasting time writing on blackboards because the school has run out of paper that costs a penny a page. (Don't believe me? Ask a teacher.)
Putting more students in a classroom allows funding to be allocated in other ways, including equipping classrooms and students with up-to-date supplies.
One of Moskowitz's schools, Harlem Success Academy Charter School 1, sacrifices smaller classes to provide every fifth grader with a laptop and a Kindle, every classroom with a SmartBoard (a blackboard that is a touch-screen computer) and every teacher with a laptop, video camera and access to a catalog of lesson plans.
Outfitting a classroom this way costs about $40,000, or $13,500 amortized over three years. That's how much New York charter schools receive per pupil annually, so we can afford this by just increasing class size by a single student.
Read the full article in the Washington Post.
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