Sunday, July 12, 2009

TQ and Class SIze

John Thompson has made some great comments at this debate at Gotham:

"I written about the mess four years ago when we became The Wire. How did we
solve it? We just hired more teachers the next year. All of a sudden, problems
that seemed impossible seemed manageable. Then when we we back to the normal
allotment, problems increased again."

I responded:
Just hire more teachers to solve basic problems, the notorious "throwing cash at the problem" we see debunked by the ed deformers. I wonder where you guys got these teachers from? Were they vetted for quality? This is what the deformers say- teacher quality is more important than class size. But what you did was raise the quality of all teachers because TQ does not exist in a vacuum.

When I raised this issue at a forum with Rotherham and Russo, Jennifer Medina from the NY Times, and Richard Colvin of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University. Colvin was incensed when I compared class size in urban areas to suburban schools, saying how the cost was astronomical. "Some people drive Mercedes but not everyone needs to drive a Mercedes," he said. "You can still get around in a Toyota."

Of course, when the financial crisis hit and Bear Sterns and AIG needed enormous funding, all the money that would have enable urban kids to sit in a Mercedes magically appeared.

In NYC they supposedly cut crime by putting lots more police on the streets. They were not vetted for quality first. Some were good and some were bad, but their very presence as a resource had an impact. I say instead of using that stimulus money to reward school systems that kill tenure or expand charter schools, try a few experiments by inundating the very worst schools with masses of teachers, social workers and other services - sort of an expansion of the Harlem Children's Zone. But no one wants to try that. Better to target teachers and unions by using the "it's so hard to get rid of bad teachers" sob story as an excuse not to reduce class size.

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