Overcrowding in Classrooms a Problem in Chicago

Overcrowding in Classrooms a Problem in Chicago

I'm an avid supporter of Chicago Public Schools.  I find it absurd that families feel they have to move to the suburbs because the schools in the city are not good enough for their children's education.  There are other city dwellers that send their children to private school and spend absorbent amounts of hard earned money for their little ones' education.  I understand they want their children to have the greatest opportunities and attention to thrive, yet it is a lot of money that not everyone has. 

More families are staying in the city and sending their children to their neighborhood schools, yet these schools are only equipped for so many kids.  The funding and space issues forces class sizes of over 30 kids.  From my conversation with private school parents, classrooms seem to average about 25 kids.  I find this to be way too many 5 and 6 year olds under the watch of one or two teachers.  Maybe when kids are older and more independent, classrooms over 30 pupils can be somewhat realistic.

How can any teacher find time to spend with each student to find their areas of need?  The majority of a Kindergarten classroom's day is spent enforcing kids to sit on the rug quietly in a cross legged position and stand in line with their hands to themselves.  This is necessary to create a productive learning environment; new students need a lot of instruction.  Many classrooms also have an aide and determined parents helping keep the class in order which is a huge help.  Still, I see a lack of learning time and the only obvious solution is smaller class sizes. 

Is there a limit to the number of kids allowed in a Chicago Public School classroom? How can we create smaller classrooms and a better environment for our children?  Our schools are creating the basis of Chicago residents for years to come, isn't it critical that we create smaller classes?

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  • Yes...city schools will never equal suburban schools (many kindergarten classes are18) until lower class size becomes a priority. Having been a teacher and a parent, CPS is missing the boat and diverting the issue when they are not admitting the 30+ kids in grades K-3 is too many. Both how to behave in an instructional environment and how to absorb the educational material presented are "learned" behaviors. Give kids a chance to succeed. Parents your voices need to be heard!

  • I agree that, ideally, class sizes would be smaller. However, I think that is a very minor issue to much more endemic problems in the public school system. In fact, if the main concern is the class size then I think you're in a pretty good situation as far as your school goes. The public school system in Chicago is in shambles. It is underfunded and they are shutting down non-core programming left and right (music, drama, etc). Maybe having 30 kids versus 18-20 in a classroom has an impact on learning, but certainly not as much as having a third of the students classified as ESL, or when reading proficiency levels are significantly lower than average. That is the reality for many in Chicago. Our school down the street is not a place I would send my kids. Neither would you send your kids there, I would guess. So what is my solution? I could move to a different neighborhood in the city, where the tax revenue is higher and the school is better. But is that really any different than moving to the 'burbs? Not everyone can afford to live in the few neighborhoods in the city that contain decent public schools. Perhaps we could more evenly redistribute property tax revenue that largely funds public schools? My guess is those who live in the neighborhoods with the better schools would be slow to sign on to that plan. Keep in mind, also, that many send their kids to private schools not because they are avoiding what they perceive to be lackluster public school options, but because they want them to get a Jewish or Catholic education on top of their secular learning, or they buy into an educational philosophy that doesn't exist in most public schools (Montessori, for example).

    In general, I think parents make decisions on schools out of what they deem to be the best interests of their children. That's understandable. Moving to the 'burbs or to a better neighborhood in the city is essentially the same. How many parents would be willing to send their kids to the struggling schools that really need advocates, money and attention? Not many, I would guess. I can say, though, that if the only issue with the school down the street was class size, my kids would already be signed up.

  • In reply to stowsky:

    Stowsky, You must of misunderstood my intent. I having nothing against suburban or private schools.

    Simply I'm fighting to improve class size. Our neighborhood school has not always been award winning, it took the community to come together and support it. (As well as a dedicated principal and teaching staff).

    Funding is always an issue, but if we sit back and don't try to make changes, I see no way for any improvement.

  • I guess I don't understand why having a majority of kids in the school classified as ESL would stop you from sending your children to a school. That is the makeup of the city and therefore the makeup of the schools. The better schools are not actually in the wealthier areas they are in the areas where parents choose to make a difference and support their local schools. CPS is in shambles but it is not going to improve until we support it.

  • Fair point about ESL. That, in itself, doesn't preclude quality education. Many of the schools in the city, regardless of neighborhood, have high percentages of ESL students. And though I agree with you that money isn't an "cure all" for the problems in the schools, I dispute your point about the better schools not being in the more affluent areas of the city. I'm sure there are exceptions to this. But the vast majority are located in neighborhoods that are among the better off. That's not just because of funding. It's also because the families in those neighborhoods are more likely to have the time, resources, and inclination to mobilize and advocate in a way that can lead to improvements in their school. Good for them. If parents can pool their time and resources and improve their children's school experience, they should be applauded for doing so. But that is simply not the reality in most neighborhoods. To say we should support CPS is great. I believe in public schools too. But I am also not sending my kid to an underperforming school. I will move to a neighborhood where the school is already at least decent and where families like mine live. I don't really see that as supporting CPS. Again, I would venture that most parents aren't identifying the schools that really need improvements, and that aren't in neighborhoods where activism is a realistic probability, and then sending their kids there. Or at the least spending their time helping to improve those schools.

    Of course, none of this has anything to do with the original blog's intent. Class sizes should be smaller. I agree. If you can work to make them so, great.

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