I question the League of Education Voters claim that there is little evidence that small classes make a difference during the later years of a student’s education [“Initiative 1351 is the wrong tool to reduce class sizes,” Opinion, Oct. 6]. If there is such evidence, I would suggest that perhaps this might be due, at least in part, to the current status of a demoralized teaching staff, that gets little respect or support from our society.
I taught math and science in grades seven and eight with great success, and found it particularly satisfying to work with students at that stage of their intellectual development, where they would become excited by the big ideas they were now grasping. However, this kind of excitement was only possible because I worked very hard to evaluate what the students already understood in order to be able to move them forward, which took much more time than I could find in my meager “planning period” and I carried a lot paperwork home daily. I should point out that I saw five classes, between 150 and 160 students, each day.
People need to understand that teachers teach students rather than classes. The system in which I taught seemed to think it had achieved “uniform grouping,” but it was obvious to me that different students had different misunderstandings and that I needed the time to attend to individuals. We can throw up our hands and say we can’t afford this, or we can find a way to pay for good teaching if that is the goal.
Bernice Kastner, Seattle