Contact: Kathy Fairbanks at 916-443-0872
Sacramento, CA --- Representatives of the California State PTA, California Teachers Association, civic and community groups held a news conference on Friday to condemn a budget proposal that would eliminate California’s successful K-3 Class Size Reduction (CSR) program. The proposal is being promoted by the Governor as part of budget negotiations. The Legislature may vote on a budget package that could include the elimination of Class Size Reduction early next week.
Eliminating Class Size Reduction won’t save the state one dime. Districts will continue to get money from the state, but they’ll be able to increase class sizes and redirect these funds to other areas, potentially outside the classroom.
At the news conference, the California Teachers Association announced it was launching a television advertisement and voter mobilization campaign to begin this weekend to reach hundreds of thousands of voters. The CTA campaign will urge Californians to immediately contact their state legislators and the Governor to protect smaller class sizes. The ad can be viewed on the California Teachers Association website, www.cta.org.
David A. Sanchez, President of the California Teachers Association said: “Smaller classes mean students are getting more valuable one-on-one attention from teachers – leading to higher academic performance. At a time when California’s classrooms are already the most crowded in the nation, eliminating class size reduction would condemn our youngest students to even more overcrowding, result in thousands of teacher layoffs and undermine student learning. We know voters strongly support smaller class sizes so we’re mobilizing them to pressure lawmakers to protect this valuable program.”
“In his budget proposal, the Governor has called for severe cuts to schools – nearly $14 billion when you take into account what has already been cut in the current year,” said Pat Dingsdale, Volunteer Director of Legislation for the California State PTA, which represents nearly one-million volunteer members. “Programs and services, such as smaller class sizes, arts and physical education, science, counselors, nurses and librarians might face permanent cuts or elimination.
“Parents want their children in smaller classes. Teachers can teach more effectively in smaller classes. Permanently doing away with programs like Class Size Reduction because of the state’s economic crisis is like chopping off an arm because a leg is broken. These are false choices that make the situation worse in the long run. There are other options. They are difficult options – options some of our legislators do not want to face up to. But quality programs and services can be preserved if the state approves sufficient revenues to do so.”
Research proves smaller K-3 classes improve academic achievement, especially for ethnic minority and low-income students. According to a 2002 study by the Public Policy Institute of California, five of the state’s largest school districts reported significant test score gains since the state’s class size reduction program began in 1996. Third-grade test scores increased 14% in math and 9% in reading in schools with mostly low-income students. And a 2005 study by the Princeton University Department of Economics showed that California’s CSR program led to significantly better scores by students on National Assessment of Education Program (NAEP) exams.
"Studies show that smaller class sizes help narrow the achievement gap, particularly for high-needs students," said Alicia Gaddis, City Board Chair for Sacramento ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). "Allowing districts to eliminate class size reduction will disproportionately impact low-income students and students of color. It's simply unfair to those students most in need."