Senate committee unanimously endorses bill that caps Utah class sizes

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  • Well Read SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 9:36 p.m.

    I taught elementary school for 32 years. I taught 4th, 5th and 6th grades. I spent 12 years teaching special education. It is a fact that 30 students in one classroom with one teacher WILL NOT get the individual instruction and attention needed to succeed in school. Fully one third of the students in the 4th, 5th and sixth grades will NOT be at grade at the end of their 4th, 5th and sixth grade years. The success rate in k-3rd grade level is even worse. The k-3 grades are where a student should learn the basics of reading and writing. If they do not leave the third grade at or near grade level they will fall further and further behind by the time they reach High School. If a study were made of the students who drop out of high school and do not graduate the study would find that the vast majority of those who drop out of school were reading below grade level when they entered the 4th grade. If Utah wants to educate good students who can do well in school and graduate from High School equipped to succeed in life Utah needs to LOWER class sizes at all levels. There is no other way.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 7:39 p.m.

    I also remember when Blacks and Whites couldn't go to school together. I think we made progress. And when I went to high school way back when, class sizes aren't as large as they are now and teachers weren't as discouraged as they are now.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 24, 2012 6:39 p.m.

    I remember not having cellphones computers or direct tv growing up. How about we get rid of all those. My Grandpa remembers not having indoor plumbing can we go back to that? I remember gas only costs 50 cents a gallon I would really like to go back to that.

    In case nobody gets my point, times change things are different students are different parents are different what students need to learn is different. How about we not pick and choose the things we want to move into the 21st century, and lets certainly not leave education behind the needs have never been greater.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 2:44 p.m.

    I remember having 30+ kids in all my classes growing up.

  • sportsfan21 OREM, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 2:05 p.m.


    I agree with you 100%. The only think I would add is that parents need to be equally motivated and involved.

    But the only way to get better teachers is to get smarter people to want to teach. Just like how we only wanted the smartest anatomy students to become doctors, we should only want the smartest math teachers with the best communication skills to become teachers. I don't say this to brag, but I was in the 98th percentile in my ACT Math, Science, and English scores. I would love to be a teacher and I'd work hard to be a great teacher, but there's no way I can afford to go to school for 5 years and only make $35,000. You can argue all you want that it shouldn't be about the money and that they get a summer break, but until salaries increase, there won't be as many of the brightest students becoming teachers.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 1:11 p.m.

    Re: "We aren't talking about teachers getting more pay out of this. We are talking about making certain that little kids get quality attention . . . ."

    We're talking about the only thing UEA/NEA cares about -- dramatically, and unsustainably increasing the number dues-paying members, so it will have that much more cash to buy the influence of ethically-challenged lawmakers.

    Nothing more.

    Only motivated, accountable students and teachers will EVER produce "quality education."

    Always have, always will. As far back as when Honest Abe did his homework, by firelight, in charcoal, on the back of a shovel.

    That's what it takes. No big pay raise, no deranged class-size limitation, no bloated administrator-educator ratio, no posh, over-appointed physical plant, no overpriced, touchy-feely, self-image program -- NONE of these can produce the leftist, equality-of-outcome demand, mindlessly lip-synced by trade unionists as a fig leaf to cover their real aim -- total control of the information fed to our youth.

    Accountability is the ONLY valid predictor of success.

    All the rest is socialist pap.

  • sportsfan21 OREM, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 12:47 p.m.

    Goet, I know that year-round school isn't new. I did it for a few years in elementary. I'm talking about having teachers teach smaller classes 240 days a year for a 33% raise (smaller classes because only 3/4 classes are in session at once). If this bill passes, we'll either build 4-8 new buildings per school and hire 4-8 new teachers per school or we can use a year-round schedule and increase teacher salary. That's the only way to decrease class sizes. It's cheaper to run AC during the summer than build 20 new schools.

    It didn't work before because the shorter terms weren't treated as opportunities to evaluate. If we had end of term tests and then helped struggling students, they could catch back up before continuing on.

  • lket Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 12:21 p.m.

    when i went to high school in the 70s about average was 50 to a class at times. it was easy to not get a good education that way. year round from my kids point is forgeting more times a year.

  • utahprincipal801 Sandy, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 12:17 p.m.

    Wow, is every person on that committee up for re-election? First year I taught I had 37 in my third grade class. I am still haunted about the kids I hardly heard read during a week. I can't think of a more beneficial bill for education, especially since I have grandchildren in the system now. Kudos to Davis District board members who had the courage to raise taxes for this issue. I'm grateful my grandkids are there. The other grandchild has 17 in his third grade class out of state.

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 11:58 a.m.

    sportsfan: many districts have done year-round and many don't like it. Many studies show it has little if any effect on learning and running AC units all summer does nothing to save money.

    It's not a new idea.

  • sportsfan21 OREM, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 11:19 a.m.

    (cont) Wouldn't it be so much better to spot which child is struggling with a smaller set of skills rather than realizing they didn't understand much and should repeat the grade. It's much easier to have a child come in during their 2 week break to work on multiplication than having them do summer school to relearn multiplication, long division, and every other math skill from that year.

    Other problems solved: You can take your kids on vacation during the school year without missing school, smaller classes lead to more personalized teaching, teachers have chances to reevaluate their teaching style throughout the year.

    The only downside is for families who don't have anyone home during the day, but they may face the same struggles finding a babysitter during the summer.

  • sportsfan21 OREM, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 11:14 a.m.

    My Dad is an Elementary Principal and when I spoke with him last night about this, he said it would probably pass, but not get any funding. Reducing these class size would require 4-8 extra classrooms in every elementary (1-2 per grade). Most likely it wouldn't receive extra state funding so it would become a law that school districts "strive for."

    He actually had a good solution. The reason we have summers off is because 60 years ago kids needed to help on farms during that season, but now it's just because we always did it. He suggested going year round and having 6 week mini semesters then a two week break, but alternating which students were on break so that teachers were constantly teaching. This would save so much money. We would have smaller classes without building more schools, teachers could work a full year and we could pay them accordingly ($44,000 to start rather than $33,000), and students would be evaluated every 2 months rather than once a year (cont)

  • George Spelvin KAYSVILLE, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 11:12 a.m.

    Senator Stephenson: "If we're not able to get this fiscal note funded, we ought to push the bill forward anyway and begin to impose a standard for these grades that you have identified," Stephenson said. He suggested that since districts already receive state dollars for class-size reduction, there ought to be a standard in place to ensure they actually do it."

    Dear, dear senator-- The schools, principals, and teachers are not the source of the students. They do not create all the babies. How are they to reduce class size without hiring more teachers? The "state dollars" for class size reduction actually bought about .02 teachers per student. So, if a school has 500 students and 14 teachers (at a class size of 35.7), it would have to hire 21 more teachers to get the class size "down" to 23 students.

    Take another look at your "class size reduction bill," Senator. It didn't scratch the surface.

    Placing the burden of Utah's burgeoning youth population on the backs of teachers and schools, and expecting exceptional results, is no longer a reality.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 10:29 a.m.

    EJM you don't need to be appalled at some of the posters. They LIVE to get on and post something about UEA every day. It is like their morning cup of coffee. They can't live until they spew out some anti-teacher comment. It really is a sad life but several live it day after day.

    I am applauding this bill as well. It is great that we have a few teachers in the legislature to produce a couple of bills that actually improve education.

    I would also like to see this expanded into all of the elementary grades. Start it out and just expand it each year. When it gets to junior high, certain subjects can probably deal well with bigger classes but not all of them can. There is no way a core class should ever have more than 30 kids. Some of my kids' classes have 40+.

    Keep up the good work and maybe we can make this a legislative to remember instead of trying to forget it before February is over.

  • LovingMormons Bakersfield, CA
    Jan. 24, 2012 10:25 a.m.

    Someone in your hierarchy should be trying to get solutions to your long trend of nation-leading suicide and depression stats...

    My father was superintendent, principal and teacher in Idaho. We moved to southern Cal in the '60's and his eyes were opened. He and my mother taught for 35 years there and always lamented the sad state of education and teacher salaries in Utah and Idaho. After they retired to St. Geo in '90, they couldn't believe the appaling lack of progress in educational issues. For the past 20+ years my mother has been subbing on the side. She eventually refused to sub in Utah, "where they do not value their teachers". So she drives into Nevada and subs for almost double the salary.

    This isn't about greedy finances. It's about valuing your educators and your students. She could sub every day of the week, if she chose. But back in the 90's she decided to refuse employment by a system that paid her teenage grandson more than it did teachers with masters and higher education degrees.

    What would that frontier founder say today of the empire he forged and the emphasis he preached on education?

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 9:31 a.m.

    I'm just amazed at the negative comments from posters against this bill. This has nothing to do with NEA/UEA or any other organization. This is plain old common sense. Young students just starting out in school need more one on one time. Having 30+ students in kindergarten does not ensure that quality time to help that student with the basics. We aren't talking about teachers getting more pay out of this. We are talking about making certain that little kids get quality attention with their education. Having 1 teacher per 18 students or 1 teacher per 30 students. Do the math here people. Think about the time consideration. Why be against this? Oh, I forgot. Teacher unions brought it up? You should be ashamed. If Senator Stephenson was the one who introduced this bill all of you negative posters would think that it was the greatest idea since sliced bread. Jeez.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Jan. 24, 2012 9:26 a.m.

    I don't support teacher unions or the typical administration in our schools. I am glad, however, that the state passed this law. While we have many problems that need to be fixed before we have truly educated students coming out of our schools, lowering the class size is one of the important things we need to do first. With this approach, it need not cause more spending. For one thing, the school systems could reduce the amount of overhead in each school. There is little desire on the part of most school organizations to cut cost, but hopefully this can force them to learn to do more with less. Productivity has long been missing from our schools...maybe this will get it started.

  • gramma b Orem, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 8:35 a.m.

    This is just a way for the teachers' union to force more spending at a time when everyone is having to tighten their belts.

  • Ok Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 24, 2012 8:24 a.m.

    We don't need more money to lower classroom size. We need parents to be responsible and have fewer babies. We can achieve that by making only the first two children deductible on income taxes. This will be a more effective way to lower classroom size. Watch out for teachers and their unions demanding more money all the time. They waste some of the money they are now getting. They need to become more efficient.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Jan. 24, 2012 8:09 a.m.

    Newsflash, Utah. Wisconsin has been doing this since 1995, only in our state, the class size for SAGE funding was 15. Part of it was paid for by the state and part of it was paid for by the local districts. Now that Republican Scott Walker is in charge, that program is in jeopardy. I am appalled that Utah still has such high class sizes. The Republican party likes to talk the talk of family values, but it is less supportive of children than that platform would suggest.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 7:45 a.m.

    procuradorfical -- That is totally false. And you probably know it.

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Jan. 24, 2012 6:01 a.m.

    Hood: this will do nothing for you unless you teach K-3.

  • hood par, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 9:44 p.m.

    Howard has been sick for awhile. Please fund this measure, I am not sure I can handle more than 39 8th grade history students in each class. If I have to put another desk in my classroom, I might ask for stadium seating.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 8:52 p.m.

    They actually did something useful on day 1? That's a pleasant surprise.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 8:22 p.m.

    Was Howard Stephenson sick?

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2012 8:01 p.m.

    Great idea if it is funded, if it is not funded just makes class sizes in all the other grades go up. Another unfunded government mandate for education will not help

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 7:49 p.m.

    Re: "Senate committee unanimously endorses bill . . . ."

    So, cynical politicos leaned left and knuckled under to the UEA/NEA's wildly inefficient and unsustainably expensive number one labor organizing goal.

    Hmmmmmm. I wonder why?

    Here's betting it has less to do with commitment to educational excellence than with commitment to the quid-pro-quo support offered by the educational union.

  • jp3 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 7:09 p.m.

    I applaud this measure--of course it takes a Democrat to recommend it. The Republicans would be utter fools not to fund this measure.

    As a secondary educator myself who teaches remedial classes, I witness every single day what happens when students fall behind in the lower grades--they play catch-up for the rest of their academic lives, never drawing even with their peers who mastered basic concepts early on. While classes are overcrowded in the jr. and sr. highs as well, I would much prefer any available money be allocated to the lower grades. This would be a huge payoff further down the road for the children of our state. Please, legislators, if you're reading this, do the right thing on this one.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 6:58 p.m.

    That sounds great but some of the class sizes and overall class loads of secondary education teachers are ridiculous. Some individual teachers are carrying nearly 250 students in maybe just six classes, many have 40-45 students. This can't be good either and should be addressed. And many of these teachers don't have aides or parent volunteers that can work with the students but rather are dealing with these students with very little support.