LARGE CLASS SIZES TOUGH ON STUDENTS
La Grande's high school and middle school are feeling the impact of school district budget cuts over the past couple of years. One of the results has been larger classrooms.
TEACHERS in an Observer story Tuesday outlined the impacts of what an increase in class sizes has on education.
The possibility of a teacher interacting personally with the young people is reduced when classes expand to 25, 30 or more students. It also is more difficult for teachers to set up effective discussion groups when class sizes grow and the "small" groups have seven or more students in them.
As LHS language arts teacher Kevin Cahill pointed out, his goal of establishing rapport with individual students is limited when class sizes become large. "I like to talk to each of my students every period," Cahill said. "I can't do that with a large class."
Class sizes are growing in both schools. The average number of students in core math, science, English and social studies classes at the middle school is 32. The high school has 40 classes this term with more than 30 students.
WHAT IS THE ANSWER to this problem? The answer is not for the state to continue to cut support for public schools to the point that fewer teachers are hired and class sizes grow even larger than what they are today.
Fortunately the 2003 Legislature approved an income tax surcharge that will raise $800 million in additional funds to support schools and other state programs. After eight months in session, there was no good alternative. The three-year tax increase is being challenged. Those opposed want voters to decide whether the surcharge will stand.
Oregonians must decide how much quality they want in their schools. The teacher-student ratio, particularly in the lower grades, is a key ingredient in helping students pick up what they need in class to be successful in school and in life.
PLAQUES IN PLACE
Check them out. Thirteen plaques are attached to buildings in downtown La Grande, explaining each building's historic significance.
THE PLAQUES, containing a historic picture of the building along with a written description, are found on such places as City Hall (the old federal building), the Liberty Theatre, the Ralston Building, and the La Grande City Building (old fire department).
The La Grande Landmarks Commission is to be commended for putting together this project. As the years of the 21st century roll on, it will be important for residents to keep in touch with their past. The plaques, and other new ones the commission would like to place in the future, will also be a point of interest for people visiting our city.