Lawmakers May Torpedo the Class Size Amendment

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

Dozens of teachers from around the state descended on the Capitol to protest legislation they say will hurt students. The teachers oppose a plan that will ask voters to weaken the popular constitutional amendment to reduce class sizes.

But lawmakers are moving ahead with their effort to put the question on the November ballot.

Math teacher Dennis Hansen and several other teachers came to the Capitol to protest the Legislature’s plans to weaken the class size amendment.

Hansen says basing class size on a district-wide average instead of a per-class average as voters originally demanded would allow classes that are just too big to be functional.

“If there’s too large a class, there’s too many disruptions, there’s too many questions, it’s very difficult to operate in too big a classroom and really feel like you’re adequately getting anything accomplished.”

But supporters insist this new version of a class size amendment will still reduce the number of students per classroom to manageable levels, plus give schools the flexibility they need to follow the law.

Even though the new standard would be a district-wide average, it would not allow any individual classroom to have more than five students above the already imposed caps.

Rep. Joe Pickens says this would mean a max of 22 in kindergarten ranging to 30 in high school.

“And so there won’t be massive overcrowding, there won’t be 40 kids in a classroom. The plan we are proposing right now is more stringent than what we have right now.

Still, even if lawmakers succeed in pushing the class size redo through, voters would still get the final say again.

The class size redo received preliminary approval in the House Wednesday. It needs a final vote before going over to the Senate.

If the legislation passes, the ballot question in November would also ask voters to mandate schools spend at least 65 percent of their budget dollars in the classroom.


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