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Letter to the Editor: Support Bills to Reduce Class Size

Vienna parent wants area residents to support Del. Barbara Comstock bill that would change how Fairfax County calculates class size average.

To the editor:

Our world-class schools are the number one reason businesses and families come to Fairfax County. But people will not move here once they see many of our overcrowded classes.   

We now have the distinction of having among the largest class sizes in the area and Virginia state law does almost nothing to protect our children. Current student to teacher ratios are calculated at the county level and afford administrators way too much leverage where they can place as many kids as they want in a classroom, just as long as divisionwide, they do not exceed the state ratios.  

Given that Virginia already has the highest caps in the country, we are headed down a very slippery slope. How are children expected to learn and teachers to teach when there are as many as 37 little eight year olds stuffed into a crowded classroom, which we see at Wolftrap Elementary School?  

Parents from Wolftrap and other schools met with Barbara Comstock this past weekend to discuss this very issue. The meeting room was packed with parents, educators, taxpayers, even people without children – it was standing room-only - clearly indicating that class size is a huge problem in our area.  

Barbara has been listening to her constituents.  She proposed a bill to reduce average class sizes by requiring the state's class size ratios to be applied to each school, instead of allowing excessively large classes in some schools to be balanced by much smaller classes in others.  

We need to support Barbara’s new bill (HB1556) so that crowded classrooms do not erode Fairfax County’s growth and economic base and to also ensure that our school system remains the best in the country.  

Signed,

Kim Farrell

Mother of two FCPS students

Vienna 

J Anderson January 23, 2013 at 04:46 PM
FCPS needs to provide class size numbers at a greater detail than they do now to further this discussion. The #'s FCPS provides on their site, on a per school basis is misleading. The average number in the tables is the 'average' of General Education classes and there is no detail for the AAP classes. All the AAP classes (typically grades 3-6) are lumped together in one single sum. They need to show that information per class (not grade) and not as an average or cumulative number.
Alison January 23, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Barbara Comstock repeatedly said at the meeting they are trying to find ways to make the bill cost neutral. She has a working group set up with members of the community working on it.
Bonni January 23, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Nice to have a local representative who cares about our children's education!
Mark Gibson January 23, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Before we cement the cause-and-effect between class size and student performance, here's an interesting article about a different aproach: http://www.economist.com/node/21547854
Heather Barber February 16, 2013 at 07:00 AM
"Yet few academic studies have found that class size makes any difference to how well children perform in exams." Really? I suppose this may be true, yet many, many academic studies have found that class size makes a big difference in how well children LEARN. Is exam performance what is important? Furthermore, this article is about schools in Britain. We need to stop comparing US schools with schools in other countries - there is no comparison when it comes to diversity and population. We have considerably more factors to weigh than other countries do. Perhaps The Economist should stick to weighing in on the economy?

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