It is ironic that in the same month that Superintendent Peterkin put forth his 30 goals and objectives to improve education in Milwaukee, he raised class size limits, virtually assuring his objectives won’t be met. At the September 26th principals’ meeting, the Milwaukee Public Schools administration announced it would raise class size by approximately 10%. The administration claims that a 10% increase in class size is necessary because of a shortage of classrooms.
Class size maximums were raised from 25 to 27 in first grade, 27 to 30 in 2nd through 4th grades, and from 30 to 33 in 5th grade.
Principals were directed to fill out a detailed report on the class size and space availability for each classroom on a weekly basis.
The decision to raise class size runs counter to past recommendations of various commissions including the Marshall Plan Task Force, the Mitchell Commission, and the African American Male Task Force. It also runs counter to past resolutions of the School Board.
Most people realize that when class sizes get smaller, teacher-student contact is increased, classroom management improves, students are more likely to receive individual attention, student and teacher attitudes improve, teacher stress decreases, and teachers are more likely to try innovative approaches.
Unfortunately when class sizes increase, the opposite often happens.
We believe parents, teachers, and community leaders must insist that the School Board reverse this decision and immediately seek alternative space through rental of buildings or use of portable classrooms. Furthermore, the School Board should insist that those individuals in the administration responsible for Milwaukee’s poor record in long range planning on the issue of space needs should be dismissed.
The public should also pressure Mayor Norquist, the state legislature, and Governor Thompson to help find funding for a well planned building renovation, construction, and conversion program in Milwaukee.
Our children and teachers deserve better.