Class sizes of 40. Prisoners tending school grounds. This can’t be Cobb County. Can it?

I understand the crisis facing state schools, but raising class size to 40 students, as discussed in Cobb today, seems a solution that will only create more problems in the long run. I just don’t know how much a teacher can accomplish with 40 students.

If these scenarios are the only alternative, I have to believe Cobb taxpayers would rather pay higher taxes. I can’t imagine a premier school system like Cobb accepting classes of 40 students or criminals tending the school lawns.

Or is this the new reality of Georgia education? If so, we’re selling our kids short.

According to the AJC:

Cobb County might have to raise classroom sizes to 40 students, cut hundreds of teachers, cut bus routes and use prisoners to maintain school grounds to slash its budget next year.

At a hastily called Wednesday meeting, the Cobb County School Board discussed all of these possibilities, foremost how to handle raising class sizes to the maximum, in order to address an expected $137.7 million deficit in the coming year’s budget.

Board members also talked about making children walk to school if they lived within 1.5 miles of the school.  That could cut 200 buses and about $5.6 million, Cobb County School Superintendent Fred Sanderson said.

“If it’s between cutting a teacher in the classroom and cutting a bus route, Cobb County kids are going to walk,” school board member John Abraham said.

With some reservation, board members spoke about using prisoners to maintain school grounds, though not violent felons or child molesters.

“Guys, you have to think outside of the box,” school board member Alison Bartlett said as Abraham quietly left the room while the discussion unfolded.

School board chairwoman Lynnda Crowder-Eagle suggested using people who need to perform community service.

It was determined the biggest savings would come from increasing average class size. That could mean cutting hundreds of teaching positions, Sanderson pointed out.

“Let’s go to the big gorilla in the room,” school board member John Crooks said, referring to the classroom issue.

Raising classroom sizes on average to the maximum allowed by the state would save about $53 million, Sanderson said.

Bartlett cautioned that the numbers the school district has released on the student-teacher ratios are overly optimistic because they represent averages. While the school district said the maximum high school classroom size would be one teacher for every 32 pupils, Bartlett argued that’s not really the case.

“By gosh, they need to understand that it’s an average,” Bartlett said. “For English, science, math and social studies classes, we’re looking at putting 40-plus students in there.”

That would reduce the teacher to a disciplinarian, she said, adding, “I may have 45 kids in a classroom. That is awful.”

“If we could find another way to cut $53 million, we’re all ears,” Abraham said.

138 comments Add your comment

Anon teacher

March 31st, 2010
9:25 pm

We have prisoners do the yardwork at our school occasionally. We just don’t take the kids out on the playground while they are there. I think that is a fabulous idea!

Jennifer

March 31st, 2010
9:36 pm

I have 25-27 in my classes now and we’re crammed in. I can’t imagine how we’d get 40 in there. There’s no way to students the individual help they need with that number! Kids are going to be grumpy squeezed in on top of each other, discipline issues will increase. Teaching style is going to have to change. Students won’t have the opportunities to ask questions. It’s going to be a nightmare! Our kids are going to lose ground in a major way. There are no words for this….

tryingtoteach

March 31st, 2010
9:39 pm

This is the new reality. Teachers will do the best they can. Those students who want to learn will adapt, overcome. Those that don’t will continue to disrupt and disavow responsibility and our elected leaders will continue to undermine public education.

We are, in fact, seeing the demise of public education, a systemic attack on the foundation of an institution that has served the public good. The partnership between parents, teachers, students, administrators and elected leaders has been shattered.

tryingtoteach

March 31st, 2010
9:41 pm

Unfortunately, there are words for this! This is the systemic attack on public education. We are, in fact, seeing the beginning of the end of an institution that has served the public good for decades. The trust and relationship between parents, teachers, students, administrators, and elected leaders has been shattered.

Fire Marshall

March 31st, 2010
9:42 pm

Do these school buildings actually have rooms that are designated for such a large capacity? I would request fire marshall to inspect each classroom.

Who's who

March 31st, 2010
9:42 pm

Is this why the board tried to railroad Bartlett earlier this year? Because she speaks truth to power and stands up for teachers?

Chris

March 31st, 2010
9:43 pm

There are no sidewalks between our house and the school. The school is on a curvy road with – did I mention – no sidewalks? The suggested class size is ridiculous. How did things get this bad so quickly?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Class sizes of 40. Prisoners tending school grounds. This can’t be Cobb County. Can it? http://bit.ly/bFyx3R [...]

Bell Curve

March 31st, 2010
9:49 pm

There are words for it, but most of them are not nice to say in polite company. The refusal of our legislature to even consider raising revenue leaves us with no place to go. Our teachers got emails today saying that cuts would be coming. They included a copy of our new “RIF” policy which the board approved earlier this year.

Norma Rae

March 31st, 2010
9:49 pm

@trying to teach, your post says it all. This state is a JOKE. Also, imagine 40 in a room during flu season, discipline issues, hygiene issues, etc. What is wrong with this state that the legislature can’t raise the cigarette tax, sell liquor on Sunday, or prioritize education over a pony farm. Vote them all out in November.

soon to quit

March 31st, 2010
9:50 pm

40 in a classroom? Please, parent, who was in my classroom today with twenty students, could you imagine double that size in my COBB county school classroom? Shall we call me a glorified babysitter then? There will be NO teaching going on. Hazard duty is what it will become. If parents don’t volunteer to help, then all is lost. My resumes are going out tomorrow.

Support Staff

March 31st, 2010
9:51 pm

How is John Abraham “all ears” if he walks out of the room during discussions?? Outside of the box means looking beyond CCSD. There is NO MONEY within CCSD!!! Yes, raising taxes is not the favored idea, but where else is it going to come from?? Lift the senior tax exemption – if only for a few years. That will bring in 60+ million dollars per year. Their homes will be worthless when they are located in a county with a horrible education system….Clayton County anyone???

pay attention folks

March 31st, 2010
9:58 pm

Bell curve,
What county are you in. Was the new rif [olicy sent to cobb teachers or are you in another district?

Bell Curve

March 31st, 2010
9:58 pm

I have posted this for awhile, but the destruction of public education is the hidden agenda of Sonny and crew. If they do away with the public option, they can have their beloved vouchers and let the sacred “market” provide education. We have been told repeatedly how poor a job we do anyway, so businesses will step in and create vibrant schools where all children will succeed. This process started with the “fisherman’s” first austerity cut.

Bell Curve

March 31st, 2010
9:59 pm

I live in a neighboring district, that I would prefer not to name after all we haven’t received contracts yet.

pay attention folks

March 31st, 2010
9:59 pm

bell curve—got it…

TR

March 31st, 2010
10:01 pm

Hey guys…What if a school district did this: operate as normally as possible for as many days as possible, and then simply cancel the remainder of the school year whenever the money runs out. Exactly how, legally, is a county like Cobb beholden to the state to educate these students? (I know this would be a tremendous disservice to the children and the community as a whole…but would it really be that much worse than classrooms with 40 students and disgruntled teachers?) Let’s just shut the whole operation down! What will the state do then? Run everything itself? How?

Willence

March 31st, 2010
10:07 pm

My wife is a Cobb teacher and raising taxes isn’t an option in an economy that’s about to get a lot worse than it’s been over the previous year. It’s all the stupid government intervention that got us here to begin with. Where was the outrage when they were wasting millions buying laptops for all the teachers? Where was the outrage when they wasted millions putting all this technology in the classrooms that wasn’t absolutely necessary? Where was the outrage when these bloated schools kept producing mediocre results while not striving for excellence?

The bad part for a lot of people is that parents will actually have to take a more active role in the education of their children so they can make sure they are learning. Oh the travesty there.

Hank Rearden

March 31st, 2010
10:07 pm

Wassamatter, Georgia? Don’t SUPPORT THE TROOPS?

Lynn

March 31st, 2010
10:12 pm

I think TR has one of the best suggestions. Run the schools until the money is gone, then shut down. Then the issues lie with the lack of funding and unwillingness to consider other revenue opportunities or just allowing Cobb County and other “donor” counties to keep their own tax money. Why should we keep subsidizing other counties when the state has been cutting the education budget for years. And this was even in the years of high revenues. The state can’t keep it’s promise so why should the counties who are required to ship the tax money they raise to other counties. Cobb’s deficit would virtually disappear if allowed to keep county raised funds here in our county.

Hank Rearden

March 31st, 2010
10:12 pm

Willence – if your wife is really a teacher (scary thought if she hooked up with a moron like you), perhaps you could get her to explain how SPLOST works?

If you and the rest of the t-bag trash don’t want to pay for this great land, then hit the road.

Childish, freeloading deadbeat….

ScienceTeacher671

March 31st, 2010
10:18 pm

If you could fit 40 students in my science classroom, which I doubt, it would be unsafe to do labs. Not that I have enough equipment for 40 students to do lab at one time anyway….

patman

March 31st, 2010
10:20 pm

Its a joke that all of these school systems are considering cutting teachers and increasing class size due to budget shortfalls in a state that already ranks so low in national ratings of educatonal performance. Teachers are already grossly underpaid considering the importance of their role in the lives of our kids. They get a pitiful level of support from the school system. They work 60-80 hours/week and devote a surprising amount of their own money to supplies and furnishings for their classrooms. In Cobb last year, they had to provide their own paper because the school system couldn’t afford this basic essential for the last few weeks of school. I’m not sure what level of government determines the funding level for our schools, but they should be ashamed! Politicians always speak about how our youth are our future, our greatest resource, etc. Its all just lip service. Kill health care reform and spend half of the $900B on education! Save the rest. Shoot… devote a few hundred of the unspent billions from TARP to education. Put your money where your mouth is and stop pretending to place importance on education for political gain.

Bell Curve

March 31st, 2010
10:27 pm

But our legislators are working on important stuff; you take your “six shooter” virtually everywhere you go, We are going to attempt to impeach the Attorney General because he just doesn’t follow the drill and we are still building boat ramps. I don’t really think many of them really care that much about education. I mean we are teaching the children all those terrible liberal things, I had to pay for my copies of Mao’s “little red book” all by myself this year.

Free Market Educator

March 31st, 2010
10:34 pm

We’re just returning to Boomer Years public education. Back then, 35-40 was the average class size. There was only ONE teacher per class and NO parapros. The three-story buildings had no elevators; children in wheelchairs were all in a basement room. There was one special ed teacher for all. Rules were very strict and the teacher was the sage on the stage. All desks faced forward; the teachers taught and the students quietly took notes. A large wooden “board of education” was standard equipment in each classroom. Any disrespect shown to the teacher was immediately rewarded with a swing Hank Aaron would be proud of. We all survived our “no frills” education and actually learned the three “R’s” quite well. For pre-K to 4th, memorization and drill works best anyway. This is easily accomplished in a large classroom. Of course, the best solution is a Free Market Education. Everybody wins.

sees the future

March 31st, 2010
10:39 pm

We can do forty in the classroom, but only with direct instruction and strict rules about behavior. We’ll have to abandon all the new touchy feely cooperative learning performance task real world authentic learning experience stuff and just line em up, hand out the worksheets, and tell everybody to shut up or get out. Just like 1955.

Oh, and we’ll have to go back to chalk boards as chalk is just about the only tool we’ll be able to afford.

Bell Curve

March 31st, 2010
10:40 pm

Yeah “Free Market” is back, once again I want to thank you for home schooling your children. It means so much to the rest of us. I suppose you think the “trickle down” theory was also a smashing success. The whole problem with your theory is that some things are just not applicable to your free market mantra, and education is one of them.

Tina

March 31st, 2010
10:40 pm

Impeach SONNY PERDUE!!!!!!!!! We are in an education crisis and all he cares about is wasting tax payer money trying to repeal a health care law. What a waste!! Go away Sonny!!

Angela

March 31st, 2010
10:42 pm

Quite frankly, before I put 40 in a classroom, I would send half the Central Office personnel into the schools to teach the students. They are certified teachers, and I know Cobb is just like DCSS – exceptionally “fat” in the admin end.

Subandmom

March 31st, 2010
10:44 pm

I cannot imagine that many kids in a class except for music or pe classes. Most classrooms are barely able to hold 32 desks with any amount of ability to move around, let alone the discipline problems with the wrong mix of students!!

Subandmom

March 31st, 2010
10:47 pm

I know another way to save some $$ would be to start school a week or so later and not have to aircondition the schools during part of the hottest part of the summer and do away with the silly week off in September.

MadDad

March 31st, 2010
11:03 pm

1. We live within 1.5 miles-along a 4 lane highway and speeds as high as 65 mph…ha!
2. 24 kids in my 8 year olds classroom and they are cramped in the classroom, 40 kids….no way.
3. Prisoners doing yard work….no way.
And all the teachers will have to work twice as hard to get kids to pass the idiotic CRCT exam.
I’d gladly pay more taxes for education as long as I was assured that it wasn’t going to be siphoned off to build any more mega boat ramps…we could just vote all incument politicians out of office.

Just a thought....

March 31st, 2010
11:04 pm

I really hate to mention this, but has anyone considered eliminating the afterschool program in the elementary schools? It is a wonderful option for parents, but you can’t get daycare anywhere else that I know of for $7.00 for 3 1/2 hours. The buildings could close much earlier saving on utilities and salaries paid to afterschool workers. Educating our children should be our primary concern — not providing afterschool care.

Wondering

March 31st, 2010
11:22 pm

How much money could be saved if graduation was held in the football stadiums instead of the venues currently used? I’ve attended several outdoor graduation ceremonies that were held on Friday evenings in late May and was very impressed.

twisted

March 31st, 2010
11:28 pm

Angela, I totally agree with you!! I cannot believe that they haven’t looked at cutting central office positions either. This is were the big bucks are being spent. All of your specialist going from school to school within there county. Speech therapist, Audiologist, child psyc. just to name a few and yes they all are certified to teach! They could do one part-tine and teach the other half. These types of services could now be done under the new universal health care anyway for free! Why is the school districts going to still us them as part of education these are health services anyway.

love2teach

March 31st, 2010
11:40 pm

After school programs are self-sustaining.

Ole Guy

March 31st, 2010
11:42 pm

Are these prisoners or criminals? Not being a criminologist, I would presume the two descriptives are not necessarily interchangeable. I would hope the principal of each school which benefits from prison labor would take the time and initiative to interview those who would tend the grounds, much as any maintenance man would undergo in the normal course of pre-employment. If the prisoner, in the (unbiased) opinion of the interviewer, would not be a suitable “candidate” for the job, send im packing. Obviously, supervisory precautions, which may not be necessary in a “normal” employment scenario, would have to be implemented.

From the standpoint of prison management, how would these prisoners be selected? Would there be an interface between managements of both the prison and the school system?

As for the notion of introducing 40 kids to a classroom supervised (not being taught by…but supervised) by one teacher…BEE, AAA, DEE…Bad idea! Given the actual authority (or lack thereof) which teachers have over their kids, and given the “free reign” mentality in which (I would imagine)the majority of youth function, the entire concept is nothing short of an invitation for anarchy. However, if our short-sighted, Alice in Wonderland legislators would allow both principals and teachers to assume total and complete command of the school house, something like this just might pass muster. This, however, would have to be a long-term, MAJOR change in cultural behaviors within the educational camp…certainly nothing that could happen (even if there was political acceptance) overnight.

Teacher

March 31st, 2010
11:44 pm

As a Cobb County teacher, I have to say that no matter what, we can rise to the challenge. Yes, it’s going to be painful. Yes, many people are going to be unhappy about certain cuts. The most important part of every classroom is a caring teacher. Technology, space, materials, etc. are secondary to that. When I was a child, class sizes were much larger than they are now. There were 45 children in my second grade class in 1982. Of course this isn’t ideal, but I also don’t believe class sizes will go quite that high. This may mean that we really have to get back to the basics. I can see many positive aspects to lengthening the school day. What teacher doesn’t feel rushed to cover course material? Raising taxes slightly could also be a good solution, but we have to be careful with property values as low as they are. There are no easy answers, but we will have to make the best of a difficult situation. Look at it as an opportunity for growth.

love2teach

March 31st, 2010
11:47 pm

@ Hank: Who is the “moron” ? Did you miss the class that taught literary irony?
@ Wilence: How many hours(days)has that laptop saved your wife in grade calcucation, and lesson planning? How about 21st century learnig and instruction?

Ole Guy

March 31st, 2010
11:47 pm

Hey Future…SHABOOM!

Ole Guy

March 31st, 2010
11:57 pm

Teach, you come across as a leader. While your profession is in the midst of what is sure to be a major long-term alteration in student/teacher interaction, perhaps a degree of stability, within your profession, might be garnered by organizing…by initiating a union vote.

love2teach

March 31st, 2010
11:57 pm

@MadDad I walked to school on Roswell Road to N. Springs High School. I have lived (and thrived) to celebrate the privilege of the experience.

Courtney

April 1st, 2010
12:16 am

Cobb County…. Hello. Every property value just dropped 20% by this article being published. You had better get rid of these bozos before you become Clayton Co.

Chalkboard Flu

April 1st, 2010
12:30 am

Word from some friends in Forsyth is that class sizes will be raised and everybody is going to be teaching six classes next year: 20% increase in responsibility with no increase in pay. Honestly, I don’t see how teachers are going to do it. Forsyth is a pretty good system, but this seems like insanity.

FME loves the idea of a sage on the stage, and that model was appropriate for a society in which most students could expect to graduate and enter a hierarchical workforce where one’s position on the organizational chart defined one’s life. But everyone knows that such a world no longer exists.

Henry Jenkins, a GSU graduate, writes extensively on the type of education that students need to function in the new world (and our students will be competing on a global level). Please look at his blog if you are interested. But one point he makes repeatedly is that to be literate adults students need to learn to produce content in various media. Teaching to the test does not prepare students for this new world, nor do sage on the stage lectures. We are expecting students to be passive and fill in bubbles on sheets of paper when they need to learn to deal with the whole world. Georgia tests writing skills through multiple choice: how crazy is that?

My first teaching job was in Cobb, and I always thought that it was one of the best systems in Georgia. There are some of the best teachers I ever met working there. My heart goes out to you all. As a new teacher, I would not have survived without the mentorship of some fine people; you are being ill repaid for all you’ve done.

Teachers, it’s up to you now. No one is going to take you seriously until you let them know that enough is enough. Unfortunately, there are no teachers’ organizations in Georgia (with the possible exception of MACE) to take up for you. Had enough yet, or do you want to get some more?

Chalkboard flu: now!

bill

April 1st, 2010
12:34 am

this is mexico coming to america. wake up people only a few people pay taxes and it isn’t people form mexico

Dee

April 1st, 2010
2:10 am

Which is better – Saint Francis or Mount Pisgah? Was seriously thinking Riverside, but my East Cobb middle-schooler doesn’t feel ready for “sleep away school” yet. I need to put him somewhere that offers a quality education…

BL

April 1st, 2010
2:47 am

I am Cobb County resident with no children. I would much rather pay more in property taxes than to have some classrooms with 40 or more students trying to learn critical skills like math and English. Full disclosure – my wife is an employee of the school system, but, even if she weren’t, my feelings would be the same.

jill

April 1st, 2010
4:40 am

How about the parents of the children ATTENDING the school come up with some extra money…say paying $500 per year per child…rather than hitting the Cobb County tax payers? That is still an excellent value for education- for private school they would be paying much more. I have already seen my property value decline 20%, my small business profits decline by 25%, and my own children’s private school tuition rise. For a long time I have watched the County over-spend (just this summer they toyed with cutting back to ONE bus stop in our neighborhood and everybody went nuts). I think their needs to be some personal accountability on the part of parents who send their children to these schools and THEY should be the first line of defense when the budget is short. Cobb County tax payers have paid enough, and raising property taxes will only hurt us more. After all, everyone in this county has money for cell phones, cable tv, fast food, cigarettes…I think parents of children ATTENDING these schools could come up with some cash and make a difference. Children’s education is one of the most important things in their lives, so I feel THEIR parents need to make whatever sacrifices they need to in order to provide the highest quality possible. If everyone had a “can do ” attitude, instead of a “government will fix it” attitude, we might not be in this mess in the first place.

IHaveNoChildrenTaxpayer

April 1st, 2010
5:07 am

Time to allow the millage rate to increase. It has held steady through several years of this recession. As taxpayers we should be willing to take an increase. Question: Sam Olens is leaving – did he forsee this crisis?

NewED

April 1st, 2010
5:29 am

Make parents pay for students to attend public school fromm k-12. Then if the child has made the proper strides in the class room they are able to attend a university for free. This seems to be working in China.