Bill Gates Inspires a Class Size Experiment in Kansas CityPosted: August 22, 2011
Via Living in Dialogue blog at EdWeek, a story out of Kansas City that could have ramifications nationwide:
A story broken by Parents Across America, and thus far not even covered by local newspapers, reveals that school administrators in Kansas City, Missouri, are introducing an unprecedented experiment. According to this story, contributed by a Kansas City teacher who has remained anonymous out of fear of retaliation, here is what is under way as the school year begins:
Last week at a school board meeting, Kansas City, MO School District superintendent John Covington told the school board that there is no research that supports reduced class size linked to increased student achievement. During the meeting, Covington cited the views of Bill Gates, who has minimized the importance of class size and suggested that teachers be paid more for teaching larger classes.
Covington went on to say that his staff had identified the “best” teachers in the district and would be giving them additional students. This was less than a week before school was scheduled to begin. The day after this announcement, teachers in the early grades received their class lists. Some first grade teachers were assigned 37 students per class, and some kindergarten teachers had 25-30—compared to other teachers in the same schools, who had twenty students per class. Interestingly, some of these larger classes were staffed with brand new Teach for America recruits. […]
Last year Superintendent Covington introduced what he called a “Right Sizing plan” which closed 40% of the city’s schools and laid off 300 teachers. This was strongly supported by the Chamber of Commerce.