Small classes, big problems

In November 2002, Florida voters amended the state constitution to mandate that classes from pre-k through third-grade have no more than 18 kids, grades four through eight no more than 22, and grades nine through 12 no more than 25. These targets didn't have to be met class-by-class until fall 2008. It ain't gonna be easy. Republican State Senator Don Gaetz predicts "a lot of meetings ... where angry parents are demanding to know why their children can't go to school in their neighborhood school," he said. School officials are themselves confused: Will they be forced to turn students away on account of class-size limits? And if schools do have to accommodate the extra youngsters, it will certainly mean making more classes. (The campus of Sickles High School in Tampa is, for example, now home to 24 portables, which is ten more than it had last year.) We'll break it down: Florida's class-size amendment is proving extraordinarily expensive and disruptive for something that's based on the dubious idea that academic achievement is tied to a magical number of desks in a classroom. Perhaps now, when the amendment's practical consequences are beginning to be felt, Sunshine State voters will reconsider the choice they made in 2002.

"Class limits raise anxiety," by Letitia Stein, St. Petersburg Times, January 5, 2007

More By Author