Local Teachers Unhappy That Lawmakers Are Considering Class Size Increase

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Bumping up class sizes is an idea that's getting an "F" from local teachers.

In an effort to save money, state legislators are considering a plan to increase class sizes in elementary schools.

Educators like 4th grade teacher Donna Kay Reese say in this case, cutting costs should take a back seat to learning.

Reese loves kids, but she says at her job, it's not always the more the merrier.

She thinks lawmakers should think twice before increasing caps to elementary schools to save money.

"Over the years, the different laws that they put to be passed seem like good laws in theory or on paper, but when you put them into practice they just don't work in the classroom," Reese said.

Chuck Isner, President of the regional chapter of the Texas State Teachers Association, agrees.

"It's really disconcerting to have legislators, in a time when we're talking about the crisis in education, talking about increasing class sizes," he said. "Particularly in the early grades where the need is so great."

Right now, the cap is at 22 students per teacher, but if some legislators have their way there will be more kids in the classroom.

One thing teachers worry about is space. If you visit a local classroom you'll see many schools aren't very big.

"Even with 20 desks in here, we have no place for backpacks so backpacks have to be on the backs of chairs. We're in this classroom a good part of the day and they're confined to a small space, and to just keep adding more bodies and adding more bodies to a classroom, just the physical aspect of it, doesn't work well," Reese said.

She also fears learning will suffer, and says lawmakers should look into decreasing class size instead.

"I did teach one year where I had 16 students," Reese said. "I really felt like I got more accomplished."

Isner says he doesn't think the rule will change, but he's hopes lawmakers will think before they try to do anything permanent.

"I never heard a politician who didn't like to say bottom line it's about the children," Isner said. "This is clear evidence that the bottom line for some is money."

As for local school districts, both Ector County and Midland ISD said they don't know much about what lawmakers are discussing, and would need more information before they pick a side, but Midland ISD said it probably would save them money.