Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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Lawmakers told teachers frustrated with oversize classes

CARSON CITY — Teachers are becoming more frustrated with the large number of students in the classroom in the primary grades, Clark County school officials said at a legislative budget hearing today.

Members of Joint Meeting of the Senate Committee on Finance and Assembly Committee on Ways and Means said the biggest complaint they receive from parents is large class sizes.

There was testimony that some classes had a student-teacher ratio of 40-1.

Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said the state has never fully funded class size reduction measures and complained that “we are moving in the opposite direction.”

The state Department of Education presented information that 61.9 percent of students who enter high school get diplomas, and a national study shows per-pupil spending in Nevada is $8,419, compared to the national average of $11,721.

Lawmakers have heard testimony about the state’s funding of public education, but a good part of the hearing Friday was about crowded classrooms.

Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Las Vegas, said she was a teacher for 17 years in the Clark County School District and has now moved into administration. She said when she came to Las Vegas, there were 30 to 34 students in a classroom, and four of her fellow teachers left after the first year complaining about the large class sizes.

James Guthrie, state superintendent of public instruction, suggested local school districts be given money for class-size reduction and let them allocate it.

He got support from Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka. “We need flexibility,” he said, “Trying to make a one-size-fits-all doesn’t work.”

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  1. After a very long week, I stopped to take count on class sizes and the make up of students within them. My analysis left me concerned and angry. Over half of most classes are ELL/ESL students, many of whom, entered kindergarten already BEHIND grade level. Enter the mix, students who have behavioral/emotional issues, that take teacher time to attend to. Over a fourth of some classes (are documented)are students who should receive Special Education services, and in reality, only 1 of all of them actually gets their prescribed IEP services. Many educators and support staff are working much harder and do not receive any extra support nor extra pay when class sizes are adversely impacted.

    So when folks talk about class size, it DOES make a difference.

    Most of the public have no idea what a classroom is like these days, because they don't visit them for a few hours, nor have they been in one since they left/graduated school. Because of our modern societal values, we have children entering schools wanting to be entertained all day long. It is not unusual, with the computer applications student are required to use daily during class, to see a child UNengaged during that computer educational session.

    Without parental involvement, we are throwing away whole generation of children. To demonstrate the lack within uninvolved, ineffective parents, some will ask the school/classroom teacher to celebrate their child's birthday at school, in the classroom, during school hours, when such an activity should be celebrated at home. Outside of the required Parent/Teacher Conference once a year, this might be the ONLY time a parent gets "involved" with their child at school.

    Even when PTAs throughout the area have a nominal yearly membership fee of $5 for the WHOLE family for the whole year's worth of PTA sponsored activities, only a tiny percentage will get involved or join. Recognized scouting organizations are having difficulty getting parent volunteers to lead meetings for the kiddos.

    What is this all communicating to our children of today?

    We all need to do our parts, in any way we can, as good Citizens, as good Americans. Support children by becoming involved, lighten the load of the current few who are always seemingly there in the community serving others. Be that person others can count on to lend a helping hand, to inspire others, to be there. We owe it to our children and our society. Thank you.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  2. Stop micro managing the SD's. Let SD administration use the money for the BEST purposes. Perhaps they can level out class sizes so that students don't have to adjust from 15:1 K ratios to 18:1 and 20:1 and then to 35:1 in high school. Perhaps a few more kids in each class in the lower grades and a few less in higher grades. Generations of us did fine with 30-32 in grades 1-6. Some HS classes, such as lecture-based classes can do with large ratios. Ditto band, gym, chorus....

  3. With those 30-32 per classroom, we had MANY ELL students--with parents who spoke only broken English until they learned from their kids. It did NOT take any extra funding for ELL for legal immigrants in the 60's, 70's.

  4. Taxpayers are frustrated with the endless spending on K-12 and negative results. Stop creating "needs" for funding and return to basics. Teach our kids to read.

  5. In response to Roberta Anderson, if we are talking about going to elementary school in the 1960s, I do recall that my own experience in the Los Angeles School District THEN, where although the class size was large (25-32 students), back then special needs students attended a separate school down the road that they were bussed to. We had NO special needs students in our classrooms back then, so THAT does make a difference.

    During that era, there were less broken homes, families were involved with scouting, PTAs, church, and community organizations. Volunteering and being charitable were promoted daily, as well as saving money at the bank and reading the Weekly Reader. Schools had AAA Safety Programs, where students monitored hallways and walkways for proper behaviors. Personal responsibility and accountability were paramount those days.

    During those years, those who were immigrants, were PROUD to assimulate into the American culture and be an active part of American society. You rarely see that today. They valued American opportunity and education and were on top of their children to do their best, talked with the teachers, and volunteered in classrooms.

    What happened?

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  6. Neveda has never been big on funding education, it's worse now than ever before. Those who want smaller class size and a better education for thier kids either need to enroll in a private school or move to another state because the public school system in Nevada is not going to give you what you need, never will.