Oversized Classrooms Unacceptable

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Editor:

Thank you for Mr. Keyworth's recent article which addressed in part the disturbingly large class sizes in our school district, particularly in the sixth grade.

It brings to mind the huge auditorium classes I had in college. Dubbed "weeder" classes, these lecture-style classes had little to no student/teacher interaction, and were used to reduce the numbers in the more popular majors. In other words, they were designed for failure.

School districts statewide could certainly cut their expenses dramatically by implementing these auditorium classes, but there is a reason why they don't. Teacher interaction and class size are important, vitally important, for student success.

Many states have recognized this importance and have already passed legislation mandating class sizes. In your article of July 18, Superintendent Herb Weissenfels confirmed that there will be six teachers for 190-200 sixth graders. He also noted that Arizona has one of the highest student-teacher ratios in the nation. It is not surprising that Arizona ranks near the bottom in student performance on standardized tests.

Class sizes in the sixth grade at RCMS this fall may be from 34-38 students. This is not acceptable and certainly explains the exodus of sixth grade teachers into more favorable positions inside and outside of the district. I find it troubling that one segment of the entire student population of PUSD, the sixth graders, must take the hit for the failings of our school budget.

In 2001, a redistricting committee was formed and met several times to address the overcrowding in classrooms at PES. The committee found a short-term solution to this problem. Once the maximum class size was reached, new students coming into the district would have to be placed in one of the other elementary schools. Why hasn't a similar problem-solving group been created to address the overcrowding at RCMS? Perhaps because so far only one parent, Art Rogers, has voiced his concern. I hope more parents will get involved and attend the next school board meeting. Surely there is a solution.

Patricia Arbaugh-Wisner, Payson

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