Milwaukee community tells school board: Class Size Matters!

A huge outpouring of support from educators, parents, students and community advocates of quality public schools convinced the Milwaukee school board Tuesday night to demand more information before acting on an administration proposal that would threaten the district’s class size reduction efforts.

Among those testifying was Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association Vice President Amy Mizialko, who said: “Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs for our children in their futures.”

MTEA took to Facebook to post a series of photos, memes, videos and recaps of testimony from Tuesday night’s school board meeting. Below is a collection of some of those posts, with photos by Joe Brusky (click HERE if the images do not appear below):

Read more about the district’s plan:

Plan to reassign teachers raises class size concerns in MPS

By of the More than 100 teachers could be reassigned, pushing up classroom sizes in some early grades at dozens of Milwaukee Public Schools next year as MPS phases out of the state’s soon-to-be-defunct class size reduction program known as SAGE.

Kippers urges preservation of SAGE class-size reduction program

WEAC President Betsy Kippers asked the State Legislature this week to preserve the highly successful SAGE class-size reduction program.

“Given the years of research supporting the efficacy of smaller class sizes in the early grades, I urge you to consider preserving SAGE as a separate and distinct program and prioritize adequately funding smaller class sizes so our students can reap the benefits of more individual attention,” Kippers said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Education. The committee is considering a bill – Senate bill 32 – that would replace SAGE with what the legislation refers to as the “Achievement Gap Reduction” program.  Under the new program, schools and districts that are currently participating in SAGE would be eligible to receive $2,027.25 per low-income student in a participating grade for implementing one or more of three strategies: 1) class-size reduction combined with professional development 2) instructional coaching and/or 3) tutoring for students struggling with reading and/or math.

“The strategies are poorly defined, using vague descriptors such as ‘data-informed’ and ‘data-driven’ which are subject to interpretation, meaning different things to different people,” Kippers said. “The legislation also leaves it up to the national-level Institute of Education Sciences’ What Works Clearinghouse to define for Wisconsin schools what instructional programs should be used for implementing the student tutoring strategy.”

“Many educators across Wisconsin would say that it is premature to abandon the tried and true SAGE program, the subject of a state-funded long-term study, and replace it with a mishmash of strategies,” Kippers said. “Such a smorgasbord approach would make it difficult to assess which strategies, or combination thereof, are directly responsible for improved student outcomes with each school district creating its own unique version of an achievement gap reduction program with few required parameters.

“Given the years of research supporting the efficacy of smaller class sizes in the early grades, I urge you to consider preserving SAGE as a separate and distinct program and prioritize adequately funding smaller class sizes so our students can reap the benefits of more individual attention.  Equally important is investing in professional development and ensuring access to resources and supports for teachers in SAGE classrooms, which enable teachers to adapt responsive teaching strategies to maximize the benefits of small class sizes.  This was the vision for SAGE when it was first established.”

Read Kippers’ entire testimony