Monday, March 1, 2010

The latest worst idea to come out of Tweed

See today's NY Post -- a school with class sizes of sixty in Crown Heights, with a tri-lingual program in English, Spanish and French, called the "New American Academy."

The principal of Exeter, an elite boarding school, supposedly “collaborated” in this effort, but class sizes at Exeter are twelve– and that is for a pre-selected bunch of high-achieving high school students, not Kindergarten students trying to become literate in three different languages!

See this, about Exeter's educational philosophy:
A gift from philanthropist Edward S. Harkness in 1930 enabled the
establishment of a method of teaching at Exeter that remains
central .... The Harkness plan calls for an oval table in each classroom,
with class size averaging 12 students and ample opportunity for dialogue.
Exeter’s pedagogy is student-centered, not faculty-centered, and designed
to foster independent thought and the ability to discuss, listen, question, and
analyze. As a result, Exeter’s students develop and hone a set of intellectual
skills supporting life-long learning and enabling contributions to the broader

So this philosophy morphs in Tweedleland into a class of 60 low-income kindergarteners, sitting at four tables, in a 1,200 square room.

If there are going to be four teachers per class, why not give them each their own, smaller room? There's no evidence that pushing extra teachers into a room with such high numbers of students will have the same effect.

I also think it’s a lousy idea for students to stay with the same teachers through fifth grade. If you’re stuck with a bad one, or simply one that doesn’t suit your learning style, you’re really disadvantaged.

Question unanswered by story: is the UFT going to agree to this abrogation of their contract?