Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big Government Hates Teachers, Fails To Understand Facts Behind The Numbers (Like Florida's Class Size Amendment)

There was an article by Andrew J. Coulson for Big Government that attacked the increase in public school employment over the past 40 years.
Over the past forty years, public school employment has risen 10 times faster than enrollment (see chart). There are only 9 percent more students today, but nearly twice as many public school employees. To prove that rolling back this relentless hiring spree by a few years would hurt student achievement, you’d have to show that all those new employees raised achievement in the first place. That would be hard to do… because it never happened.
I wanted to point out something to this idiot - 8 years ago, the citizens of Florida approved an amendment to the state constitution limiting class size.  I know the right-wing wants to make this an issue of the communist subversives, but considering a ballot initiative requires 60% of the population to approve the measure, then it would appear that conservatives like Coulson, who are coming from a minority-held position, don't care about what the majority wants.  How does Coulson suggest meeting the class size amendment - withdraw students from school?

Was the class size amendment good?  Not necessarily, but it was decided upon by the people, not the progressive liberals who are trying to destroy this semi-capitalist society. 

Coulson also seems to be confused as to how markets operate.
In the private sector, jobs are created and retained only if they are believed to add value to the enterprise—if their salary and benefit costs are outweighed by the revenue they generate. By contrast, we know that the millions of new government school positions added over the past four decades have not added measurably to student knowledge or skills at the end of high school. So instead of boosting the U.S. economy, these jobs have actually been a drain on it. Returning to the staff-to-student ratio we had in 1980 would save taxpayers about $142 billion every year.
He fails to understand that certain things can impact the public sector, like a voter-approved ballot initiative that would place limitations on the size of classes, which would require the addition of both teaching and support staff, after all, where are all these new teachers going to teach their new smaller classes?  The law had nothing to do with student performance.  Voters simply wanted smaller class sizes for more personalized experiences, which would have hopefully translated into better grades.

I did not vote for the amendment back in 2002 because I did not see a correlation between class sizes and performance.  Obviously Coulson would agree, but maybe Coulson should try to understand some of the details that surround his claims, like the state constitution of the fourth most populous state in the union... 

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