The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Obama’s Attack on Schools

Apr 4, 2011

State education budgets are being cut all across the country. That means districts are preparing to lay off teachers all over the country next year. And that means larger class sizes.

Already, California, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin have passed laws raising the allowable class sizes in their kindergarten through 12th grade classes. Class sizes in Charlotte, N.C. have gone from 25 to 31 students. In Los Angeles, the average size of ninth-grade English and math classes has gone from 20 to 34. Eleventh and twelfth grade classes have reached an average of 43 students–and sometimes much larger.

Arne Duncan, Obama’s Education Secretary, is fine with that. Duncan pretends that class size doesn’t matter. Last month he said he’d rather have his kids in a class of 28 students taught by a “fantastic” teacher than one of 23 students taught by a “mediocre” teacher.

He’s lying. We’re talking 35, 43 and 50 students, not 28! Not to mention the fact that large class sizes make sure that the education students will receive will be mediocre at best, no matter how good the teacher is. By trying to blame everything on the teacher, Duncan is hiding the fact that conditions in the classroom have an overwhelming impact on the quality of the teacher and on the quality of education students receive.

Duncan is ignoring decades of studies that show that class size DOES matter–that students in smaller classes perform much better than students in larger ones.

But smaller class sizes cost more money. And the Obama administration is cutting those very education budgets that can make so much difference to that quality of education. In all the propaganda he and Duncan are pumping out, Obama is justifying the attack on the national level while other politicians–Democrats AND Republicans–are carrying it out at the state and local levels.

We have no interest in accepting their garbage and their lies. The attack on teachers is an attack on students–and an attack on the whole working class.