Monday, August 12, 2013

Charter Schools -What's featured on their websites? Class Size

It's the same for private schools.

Listen to Los Angeles School Board member, Steven Zimmer, as he speaks out about class size (as a former teacher).   It's a little less than three minutes long.

Heartfelt and inspiring.  And yes, why is it that class size is touted for charters and private schools as a benefit and not public schools?  Don't all kids deserve attention?

FYI, Bill Gates' kids' schools (former/current):

University Child Development School - UCDS is committed to small classes of 18 students and a student to teacher ratio of 8:1.

Seattle Girls Academy - Average class size: 22, Student/Teacher ratio 14:1

Lakeside - Average class size 16, Student/Teacher ratio 9:1

18 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
seattle citizen said...

Small class size is important for Lakeside, but not for regular public school proles:

2005 speech to Lakeside students: “Our foundation’s work in high schools is based on principles that happen to be deeply ingrained in Lakeside's culture. We call them the new three R's—the basic building blocks of better high schools. …The third R is Relationships – making sure kids have a number of adults who know them, look out for them, and push them to achieve…Classes were small [at Lakeside]. You got to know the teachers. They got to know you. And the relationships that come from that really make a difference.”

2011 article in Washington Post, Bill Gates talks about teacher pay, class size: “Lately, Gates has been advocating…ending costly investments in class-size reduction…Gates contends that the K-12 education industry has been steered for five decades by a misguided belief that the way to higher performance is smaller classes"

Melissa Westbrook said...

SC, you know some might find your examples to define the word "hypocrite."

Anonymous said...

To be fair, nearly all non-parochial private schools have small class sizes, not just the ones that the gates kids attend. It is what parents are paying dearly for.

Longtime Parent

Anonymous said...

"Seattle Girls Academy"? What is that? Do you mean Seattle Girls' School? I don't believe a Gates Child goes there. Do you mean Evergreen or Forest Ridge? In any event, I think it is unfair to bring individual children into this. Every parent has private, child-specific reasons for selecting a school for their child. Certainly security and privacy issues are a unique situation for those kids, making public school a more complicated choice. Obama also sends his girls to private school with small student-teacher ratios. This is not so much an example of hypocrisy as finding a school that works with the needs of the family. No one thinks large class size is inherently good and seeks that out. All else being equal and with unlimited funds, every parent and educator would choose smaller classes. But where cost is an issues, there are trade offs. The debate centers around the relative importance of class size when there are limited resources. I too favor small class size but acknowledge that my kids got a pretty great elementRy education in large classes at SPS. Now in private schools, I also see the benefits of small classes for my kids
-- Former SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

to Former SPS Parent 8/13/13, 12:40 PM

I HOPE you're just an accidental naif who has swallowed the b.s. pill which we little people are supposed to swallow, and then we won't discuss the politics of blatantly political decisions which are dumped on the little people and which stink for the little people.

these reformer ideas / lies have been around forever, they're not anything new - such as the big people who can afford the Lakesides where the classes are small telling the little people that big classes don't matter.

do you see how completely ridiculous it is for some big shot to speak up on public issues, issues which affect the very homes and dinner tables of us little people, and yet no one can say anything about how those big people live? if they don't want or can't take public scrutiny, then they should stay in their undisclosed location behind the gates and the private army.

While I hope you're just a naif, you're probably a willing dupe, or, writing in defense of 1 of your big bosses from an office bought and paid for by

BMFGAndCo

Melissa Westbrook said...

Former, I do support any parent's right to send their child wherever they want. I have always said that and I support that because every child is different.

I do understand the security issues for the Obama and Gates children (but I don't believe they are entitled to any more privacy than the average child when it has nothing to do with their parents' professional lives).

But, you said this:

"The debate centers around the relative importance of class size when there are limited resources."

No, that is NOT the debate for Gates and that's where you are wrong. He says class size does NOT matter if you have a good teacher. So, to him, it's not a matter of money but teacher. And he's wrong as well.

Sorry, but Gates cannot tell everyone in public school what is good for their child and then seek the opposite for his own. He should be mindful of how that looks.

seattle citizen said...

Longtime Parent, yes, many privates have small class sizes, that is not the issue. The issue is Gates, champion (and bankroller) of "reform" and charters everywhere telling us that small classes help build relationship, and it's true, but that it's "misguided" to believe that small classes help performance.

He can't have it both ways: He was telling Lakeside students that his foundation, in public schools, was emphasizing three principals that help, relationship being one of them. He immediately gives the example of how smaller classes helped Lakeside students. Six years later he's telling us, in effect, that small classes, and thereby relationship, don't matter.

As Melissa says, it's hypocrisy. He didn't say, well, in publics we can't afford small classes; he said smaller classes won't help performance when he obviously believes they do.

Anonymous said...

My response was to the first, not deleted, comment that names specific private schools and noted their small class sizes.

I fully agree that Gates' comments are hypocritical in the general, regardless of where he sends his kids to school.

Longtime Parent

Anonymous said...

Oops, first line should read "My response was to the first, NOW deleted, comment..."

Longtime Parent

Anonymous said...

Right on Former SPS Parent!

You hit the nail on the head. Thank you! The goal of public ed is high quality, sustainable education. The best possible education for some people, delivered for a few years, or blowing the whole wad on a palace school - might be nice, but isn't sustainable.

The constant battering of Gates, Gates-bashing, and other personal attacks really misses the point all together. Right!!!! We cannot afford a "Lakeside for Everyone" mentality. Bill Gates MAY well have his own personal physician at his beck and call. Does that mean he shouldn't work on the medical problems in developing third world nations? Of course not. Our school system is, in effect, similar to that. An impoverished system, where many people who can afford it, pay for better on their own.

The question remaining for public ed and "reduced class sizes" is... how much reduction? And... how much benefit? It is a cost benefit analysis. Bill Gates is all about that, believe me. Nobody believes large classes are optimal. Government funded education is simply NEVER going to be really small classes, even if they were transformative, and even if we all agree that they are ideal. Everybody knows that. The question before us now... Does reducing classes by a relatively small amount (say 2 or 3 kids in secondary school) make any difference? In that case, I completely agree that a better teacher makes more difference than the class size reduction... every time. (I think everyone would agree that reducing class size by half, to Lakeside levels, would be absolutely ideal. But, there is NO money for it, no way, no day. It isn't on the table.)

If you expect rich people to be poor, in order to have an opinion, then you will always be self-righteous. That is what it means to be "rich" - you have money for better things, including better education, better health care, better housing, better food, better transportation. Is that some crime?

-Sheesh

Anonymous said...

The commentary:

"The debate centers around the relative importance of class size when there are limited resources."

Melissa: No, that is NOT the debate for Gates and that's where you are wrong.

The debate for Bill Gates is ALWAYS around efficacious use of resources. If you think otherwise, you do not know him.

-Sheesh

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sheesh, well, you're right. I don't know him personally and if you do, then please ask him.

I can cite you any number of times when he has stated class size does not matter, the teacher does. I have never seen him talk about "limited resources."

Give us those citations, please.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

PS. If they were wondering about how to spend $30K per year, (and that is basically the cost of Lakeside next year), THEN, of course, class size reduction would be totally ON the table. Even at $30K per year average, Lakeside does not educate students with disabilities. And average, that included students with disabilities, for a Lakeside-style education would be even higher than $30K per year.

-Sheesh

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It goes without saying Melissa. It is implicit in the effort. Do you really think anybody is wondering, "Let's see, how can we provide a decent public education for $30,000 per year? Hmmm." No. They are not wondering that. Price is always a constraint of government. I could just as easily ask YOU for a citation stating an assumption other than that."

(Sorry, had to delete your comment for violating our comments code.)

Really? It's implied? Sorry, I'm not buying that one.

You want some citations, I'll be happy to provide them.

seattle citizen said...

Sheesh writes that the "question remaining for public ed and 'reduced class sizes' is... how much reduction? And... how much benefit? It is a cost benefit analysis. Bill Gates is all about that, believe me"

Well, therein lies the Gates "data-driven" rub: Ask any parent or teacher: 20 students is MUCH better than 30 students for innumerable reasons. It's common sense and does NOT require a cost-benefit analysis. It just IS. By turning EVERYTHING into data and metrics and quantifiables for the computer merely spins wheels and allows people an opportunity to abdicate their responsibility to do the right thing.
A) The "equation" cannot be solved: There are way, way too many variables. Every child is unique, with an infinite number of variables contained within. So it is just not possible to ascertain some ideal, optimal number of students per teacher, nor some ideal, optimal quality of teaching. Public schools are messy, human, unpredictable places (which become more so as they become more crowded - unless one chooses to standardize and order students in such a way as they are forced into the box, malleable to following instructions without all those pesky questions and free thoughts....)

So ol' Bill keeps feeding numbers into his computer but classrooms get more crowded, individual attention to students ("relationship" AND "differentiation" fades, teachers' workloads increase, and the whole system becomes more standardized and inflexible and, dare I say it, more inhuman.

We all know a classroom with twenty students is better than a class of thirty. Let's just DO that: Education is our state's primary duty, we CAN afford it (look only to the distribution of wealth charts to see that there is more than enough money: There are oodles of cash piled high in the vaults of CEOs making 500 times what their workers make; There are expensive luxuries utilized by corporations (as write offs and expenses passed onto the customers); there are bizarre corporate welfare programs funneling more oodles of money into those self-same corporations (I'm looking at you, edu-business-porperty-managers opening "schools" in distressed neighborhoods, getting a tax credit, selling that credit....

We could easily have classes of twenty. Students would learn more, as Mr. Gate's notes. Doesn't take rocket science or a spreadsheet to figure out, and trying to USE a spreadsheet to figure it out is what is wrong with most education reforms" Rather than rely on parents, educators, students working together to solve unique problems on the ground, the edu-techies create these bizarre, incomplete, unrealistically quantitative miracle plans and try to cram them down our throats.

Sheesh writes, "The question before us now... Does reducing classes by a relatively small amount (say 2 or 3 kids in secondary school) make any difference? In that case, I completely agree that a better teacher makes more difference than the class size reduction... every time."

Yes, reducing class size by any amount improves learning. Teacher quality can, and will, vary classroom to classroom, but this is a moot point, a separate issue: A smaller class is better, no duh.
Trying to measure which is more effective is a) impossible; and b) a distraction, some might say a rationale for industrializing education, using economies of scale and machines to produce more...what?

Word Verifer DJECTLY believes the forces of technocracy will win (they have the money) and education will continue to be measured by absurd equations, alas and alack.

Anonymous said...

But wait Steven Zimmer started his career as TFA. As I understand it, this blog believes TFA alums can't possibly know anything about education. What gives?

-Confused