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School class size increases while funding drops

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ATLANTA — Public school class sizes in Georgia have increased as districts struggle with funding cuts and falling tax revenue.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday that about 80 percent of Georgia’s 180 school districts approved plans to surpass class size caps last year. Districts are allowed to surpass class size caps as long as they get the decision to do so approved during a public meeting.

The newspaper reported that Georgia cut $4.7 billion in school funding from its budget between 2008 and 2012, and gave districts permission to exceed class size caps to compensate for it. The caps were implemented before the recession to try improving student performance.

As funding for schools declined, the state lost about 10 percent of its educators while the student population grew by about 3 percent, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

Increasing class sizes is a problem with educators trying to teach a more rigorous curriculum, said State School Superintendent John Barge.

“We have demanded so much from our teachers,” he said. “We cannot maintain this.”

University of Georgia education professor C. Kenneth Tanner said student performance diminishes when class size increases, and overcrowded classrooms can lead to a loss of discipline and more disruptions.

“If they’re fighting, they can’t learn,” he said of students in overcrowded classrooms. “They pester each other when they’re too close together.”

Some teachers say their class sizes have grown to the largest levels they’ve seen in decades. Growing class sizes can force teachers to spend extra time grading certain types of assignments or avoiding them altogether.

“The class sizes are absurdly large,” said Alyssa Montooth, an English teacher at Druid Hills High School in DeKalb County. “So (most teachers) don’t assign writing. Or if they do, they put a check mark on it, and the students don’t learn from that.”

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Little Lamb
Little Lamb 07/28/13 - 09:00 pm
Well, Duh . . .

The story is a public school teacher advocacy piece, not objective journalism:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported . . . that Georgia cut $4.7 billion in school funding from its budget between 2008 and 2012.

Well, in that time frame the taxpayers of Georgia took huge wage cuts and investment collapses, so the taxes going into the Georgia treasury fell by huge amounts.

Of course school funding suffered. So did everything else. I challenge you, Associated Press, put that $4.7 billion over four years into context. How much did tax revenues fall in that time period?

Barry Paschal 07/28/13 - 10:45 pm
Georgia tax revenue

Georgia tax revenue fell from $18 billion in 2008 to $16.5 billion in 2012, a drop of $1.5 billion. School funding fell $4.7 billion during that period.

Reference here:

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 07/28/13 - 10:50 pm
Apples and Oranges

I think we're looking at two different tallies. Maybe the total take in 2008 was $18 billion, and maybe the total take in 2012 was $16.5 billion— but you don't tell us about the precipitous drop-offs in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

On the other hand, the $4.7 billion is a cumulative total over the four-year period. We have no complete context here; but that is the nature of today's advocacy journalism.

corgimom 07/29/13 - 09:16 am
LL- Tax revenues 2008 $18


Tax revenues

2008 $18 billion

2009 $16 billion

2010 $14.7 billion

2011 $16 billion

2012 $16.6 billion

Total net difference from 2008 levels through 2012 =$8.7 billion

$4.7 B/$8.7 B = 54%

So the $4.7 billion school funding cuts were 54% of that loss

seenitB4 07/29/13 - 10:25 am
At one time

In the past I really cared about school expenses & wanted the system to get motre money BUT now I don't...because throwing $$ at the problem hasn't worked & probably never will.....instead now, I say throw discipline at the problem....go back to paddling don't behave you don't stay in class...simple & direct.

Another thing that would cut expenses is going to a 4 day school week...less $$ in utilities & less money in bus that, & let the parents worry about that extra day babysitting....after all they are the parents & they need to act like parents. imho

mosovich 07/29/13 - 11:16 am
Of course..

then you'll be dealing with other issues like juvenile mischeif going up because kids are left at home and are bored and we all know what happens then.. If you were an employer and 1/2 your staff said, I need Friday's off to take care of my kids what would you say? NO! Also "let the parents worry about it" isn't the answer and longer days surely aren't.. Those kids minds quit working around 1:00 and they pretty much learn nothing after that and then they have to go home and do home work and if they are in sports, you're looking at a 14 hour day.. So, to carry on for a longer day isn't going to work because the kids aren't going to learn anything.. Any you're not throwing money away by investing in education.. You try managing a class of 30 13 year olds and THEN trying to teach them a complicated subject like algebra.. Oh, and then if they don't get it, then you pay for it when admin comes down on YOU for not teaching the kids.. There are so many other area's money could come from..

Sweet son
Sweet son 07/29/13 - 12:53 pm

Doesn't matter what size the classes are the only thing going on in "government school" classrooms today is the "fighting" and "pestering" mentioned in the article. There is not much teaching and no learning happening!

Discipline does not exist and it starts all the way down at the kindergarten level!

Fiat_Lux 07/29/13 - 02:14 pm
I've enjoyed the recent ads for online public education, K-12

And it's free. It's a total winner of an idea, especially if parents who live in a district with awful schools band together and support each other. Five families could educate all their children together with each family only having to cover one school day per week.

As for discipline, I guarantee that the problems would be small and dealt with immediately and effectively.

When parents are forced to take on the responsibility for their own children's education, it's amazing how quickly things turn around for the better. At least for for the children whose parents actually care about them.

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