Is Class Size or Social Promotion the Main Problem?

Leonard Isenberg argues that large class sizes are not the main problem in Los Angeles public schools, but rather the fact that large numbers of students have been socially promoted without understanding the basics of whatever course they supposedly passed. As a result, they become disruptive, he says. A quote:

What causes disruption and no learning in the vast majority of overcrowded classrooms in LAUSD is not the size of the class, but rather the inability of socially promoted students to understand what their teacher is talking about, so that they can be productively engaged in their education. They neither have the language, math, science, or other prior grade level standards mastery necessary to having any chance of achieving anything even remotely resembling productive classroom engagement.
In an LAUSD of the 1950s and 1960s when I went to school, classes were often over 30 and up to 40 on a regular basis. What was different then was that the students in any particular grade were predominantly at grade level and capable of being engaged by their teachers, because they hadn’t been socially promoted, which has now become the rule at LAUSD for far too long.
Your thoughts?

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. No. Let me express my complete disagreement with Leonard Isenberg. I’m a substitute teacher, so I get to see what classes are really like. A good teacher can manage 40 children (with lots of socially promoted kiddos, and the usual smattering of emotionally disturbed/undiagnosed learning difficulty kiddos as well), but you get her out there and send in a temp for the day, and that’s when it will all fall apart. I’m registered with a district that doesn’t control class size even at the Kinder level, and I’m registered with one where there are strict controls, K-3rd. Both districts have plenty of high poverty/Title I schools, both have undiscussed policies of at least some social promotion, but let me tell you, I will take a job at the district with the class size limits, over taking any/all jobs with the other district, any day of the year. Two things I will point out: Number one, if class size is limited, the number of the “socially promoted” in any one classroom will be limited as well. Number two, and more important I think, is that a child’s educational limitations don’t cause nearly as much disturbance as their emotional limitations. The same kids that are behind educationally are usually also at risk for emotional difficulties, and those seem to get worse over time. You really think holding them back so they’re in with younger and younger kids, and all their friends leave them behind will fix that?


  2. I agree with the first comment. It’s not one of the other. I think problems arise when it is a mixture of two. But 40 kids in a class, that is alot. My children will have 30 kids in a class, and I feel like my kids(who do not disrupt class and learn easily) get forgotten about because of the “unruly” kids. Limiting class sizes would help.


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