School Closing = A Tragedy

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Editor:

I see two tragedies in the potential closing of the Frontier Elementary School. No. 1 — The tragedy of the potential negative effects on our children. No. 2 — The tragedy of people who vote down a school budget or don’t support our schools.

I understand the deplorable state of our economy and the lack of state aid. Not sure where Arizona stands as far as funding education, but I think we are near the bottom. What is really not understood is that the young people deprived of a quality education are our future. They are the future doctors, nurses, statesmen and leaders of our country. They are all the people that we will be going to for help and services.

Putting more kids in a class to save money is a terrible way to attempt to educate our children. I always shudder when I read about studies that show “modest increases in class size above the threshold don’t have a big impact on scores.”

First of all, in many of these studies they don’t have a clue what the “threshold” should be, and throw in one or two “special” kids that have been mainstreamed and that really upsets the “threshold.”

Second, these studies fail to show and in fact, it is very difficult to measure, the impact on a child’s emotional and social development in school.

I taught high school in New York for 32 years and was a coach for 37 years. I taught senior high (grades 9, 10) health education. An optimum class (average students) for me was about 22-25 students. And five to seven students more and the learning curve goes down, and the individual attention to each student is lessened. The students are less likely to raise their hands to ask questions and get involved in the class. Forty students in a class. Forget it. Unless it is a purely lecture class like you find in colleges.

What also doesn’t show in many of these studies are all the kids who “fall through the cracks,” many of them costing society a bundle in the long run. Adding large numbers to elementary school is extremely detrimental.

Twenty kids in a kindergarten is too many. You can’t even compare kindergarten and the primary grades to high school, as far as numbers are concerned. Mr. Huff stated that “You can find any statistic you want on the Internet.”

That is exactly right. However you don’t have to go to the Internet or read a lot of conflicting studies.

Just ask a teacher ...

Ira Gibel

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