Lily Eskelsen, Vice President of the National Education Association and a member of the Mom Congress advisory board, is guest-blogging today about how to fix our overcrowded classrooms.
“Stack ‘Em Deep. Teach ‘Em Cheap” -- at times -- it felt like the state motto in Utah, where I taught for two decades. There was one year I taught a sixth-grade class made up of a whopping 39 students. It was so hard to hear each child read to me, or call each parent on a regular basis, or to just make sure my kids didn’t think elbowing each other -- as they tripped through crowded rows of desks -- was a particularly helpful form of communication.
As an educator, I know how important smaller class sizes are to the education of a student. The numerous benefits range from closing achievement gaps between students of different races to reducing dropout rates and improving student behavior.
I am pleased to see the Mom Congress encouraging moms across America to push for smaller class sizes and the preservation of teachers’ jobs. When teachers are laid off, class sizes go up, and individual attention goes down. Even in a tough economy, we cannot afford to shortchange students.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) strengthens the economy now and invests in our nation in the long run. ARRA funds can save education jobs and improve the quality of education from pre-K through college. The National Education Association estimates that nearly 1.2 million jobs would be lost in 2009 and 2010 without ARRA funds. This year alone, these funds will likely prevent layoffs for 600,000 educators.
The money will help struggling children, families, states, communities, public schools and public colleges around the country cope with the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression. As parents, taxpayers and genuinely concerned citizens, we must make sure governors, lawmakers and education leaders know how we feel those dollars should be spent.
Vice President, National Education Association