Editorial: Cause of large class sizes: Politicians

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Reducing class sizes is a major issue in the 2006 legislative session in St. Paul. DFLers this week unveiled a proposal that calls for $88 million from the state’s budget surplus to combat the costs of education. Last month, the Republicans announced their proposal, calling for 70 percent of a school district’s budget to go directly to funding classrooms.

In the middle of this debate, we just wanted to take a moment to point out one big cause &045; not the only, mind you, but big &045; of growing class sizes: Politicians trying to tell teachers how to teach.

State-mandated tests, No Child Left Behind Act, more and more administrative paperwork for every child for every new rule and regulation, state and federal dollars with strings attached &045; all these fingers in the pie cost money. Most of the reasons involve trying to regulate the classroom curriculum or local district procedures. Every time politicians pass education laws, local control of schools is eroded.

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It seems like a lot of people, particularly lawmakers, think they know how to teach children better than the teachers do.

In the end, they end up bringing greater burdens to the schools than they do support. Granted, some programs have been wildly successful, but those stories are less common.

Let’s hope the DFLers and Republicans keep in mind when funding education that they keep their coffers open but their strings detached.