Increasing class sizes should be a last resort

April 20, 2009 — by Synthia Ling and Pia Mishra

In desperate attempts to solve the state’s long-term fiscal problems, lawmakers recently passed the 2009 state budget plan that involves cutting $2.6 billion from K-12 apportionments. These apportionments are what generally provide the support for local school districts throughout California and nearly 1/5 of the budget cuts are coming from reducing these funds. When all is said in done this leaves the educational community with a loss of $787 per student, according to the California Progress Report.

With the news of the budget cuts, districts all over California are struggling to scrap up what they can from what’s left of the budget. With the rapidly increasing California budget crisis, the district has decided that for the 2009-10 school year, they will increase class sizes to cope with the devastating financial limits.

While the thought of only a few more students added to each class seems minute and harmless, the numbers will add up. Larger classes mean more students that each need attention and help and less time for learning. In a learning environment, students desperately need care and attention and if it is not provided, it directly affects a student’s work and intellectual progress.

A smaller class size gives the teacher more flexibility to use different instructional approaches with each student. A teacher will get the opportunity to understand a student’s strengths and weaknesses both academically and socially, which are essential to a student’s success. Teachers are also given the ability to focus on certain students who need help more than others.

Students who receive more attention are less likely to have problems with discipline or can be controlled easily. This is especially important in the elementary grades when students are just beginning to acclimate to the school environment. As high school students it is expected that we are independent and self-sufficient but teacher guidance is still necessary at times.

To many of the residents of Saratoga, the economic recession has not become “real” yet, but with all these budget cuts soon to take place, the reality of it will hit, and hit hard. Faced with nearly $11 billion in debt, California is desperately trying to hold together the pieces of a deteriorating state treasury by cutting “excessive spending.” An irresponsible government has left the education system looking into a bleak future in which things only appear to be getting worse.

It is understandable that in these tough economic times budget cuts are required in order to save money, but taking away the essential attention needed for a child to flourish in a learning environment should be a last resort.

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