Parent leaders hail the President’s focus on the need for smaller classes


For Immediate Release: August 19, 2012

For more information:
Leonie Haimson (NY): 917-435-9329; leonie@classsizematters.org
Pamela Grundy (NC): 407-375-4222; shamrockparent@earthlink.net .
Robin Hiller (AZ): 520-668-4634; rhiller@voicesforeducation.org  
Wendy Lecker (CT): 203-536-7567; paaconnecticut@gmail.com  
Becky Malone (IL); 773- 793-0355; wats7573@aol.com
Karen Miller (TX): 281-893-8877; 832-372-4742; kmillerpta@aol.com
Julie Woestehoff (IL): 773 -715-3989; pure@pureparents.org


Parent leaders hail the President’s focus
on the need for smaller classes
Parent leaders throughout the nation thank President Obama for recognizing the importance of class size in his weekly address, and for releasing a report that shows how the elimination of 60,000 teaching positions since 2009 is not only unprecedented in US postwar history, but has led to class size increases that are severely damaging the quality of our public schools.
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, said: “The President’s speech yesterday and the new White House report, Investing in our Future, make it crystal clear that the class size increases across the nation represent a crisis that is severely undermining our children’s opportunity to learn.  As the White House report makes clear, class size reduction has been strongly linked to higher achievement, higher levels of engagement, and higher rates of attending college.  Yet here in New York City, our youngest students are suffering from the largest classes in 13 years, despite the fact that surveys show that class size reduction is the top priority of parents, year after year.  As a city and a nation, we must do better.”
Pamela Grundy, parent leader and co-founder of Mecklenburg ACTS in Charlotte NC, says: “Here in North Carolina we have been fortunate to have state and local leaders acknowledge the importance of small classes, especially in our state's many high poverty schools. Yet budget cuts in have severely undercut this reform and our children are bearing the consequences.  We greatly appreciate the President’s efforts to reverse this damaging trend, and we urge him to follow through on the federal level by restoring the $650 million that his proposed education budget eliminates from the Title II program, money that is currently used by states and districts to reduce class size and keep teachers on staff.”
Robin Hiller, Executive Director of Voices for Education, agrees: “Here in Arizona, schools are suffering from class sizes of 32 in Kindergarten and 44 in high school. There is nothing that is more important than bringing these stratospheric class sizes down if we want our children to succeed. We urge Congress to fully fund the President’s Jobs act and to restore all cuts to Title II, and for our State Legislature to do its part by ensuring that our public schools have the resources they need for smaller classes, rather than diverting public funds to vouchers, for-profit charter schools, and other privatization schemes.”
Wendy Lecker, one of the co-founders of Parents Across America – Connecticut, adds: “We applaud the fact that the President acknowledges that reasonable class size and an adequate supply of teachers are essential to a quality education and are basic resources that all public schools must have. Here in Connecticut, schools in high poverty areas continue to have much larger class sizes than in wealthier districts. We wish that our Governor and State Education Department would pay attention to the need for equitable class sizes, rather than their current focus on taking control of our public schools away from our communities and putting them into the hands of private corporations.”
Becky Malone of 19th Ward Parents in Chicago says: Class sizes in Chicago remain the largest in the state, and 95% of Illinois school districts have smaller classes than we do. Worse yet, the disparities have increased. While average class size has decreased statewide over the last ten years, it has increased in our city’s public schools. This is simply unacceptable if we are going to provide equitable learning conditions to all children, but especially our most at-risk students who need small classes the most.”
Karen Miller, parent leader in Texas and a former state PTA legislative chair points out: “Texas was one of the first states to reduce class size, with caps of 22 students in grades K-4, adopted by Governor Mark White and the Legislature in 1984. Yet over $5 billion has been slashed from the state education budget this past year. This has caused class sizes to soar, tripling the number of districts that have applied for and received waivers, representing nearly 30 percent of all elementary schools in the state. Surveys show that voters overwhelming support smaller classes; research shows that they boost student achievement, particularly for disadvantaged children. We cannot claim to care about our children, as a state or a nation, and allow class size to rise any higher.”
Julie Woestehoff, Executive Director of Parents United for Responsible Education in Chicago concludes: I hope that all of us, including parents, teachers, and our elected leaders, can pull together and invest in our children in the way that research shows really makes a difference: by reducing class size.”
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