Crowded Classrooms and Teacher Shortages

classsizeCrowded Classrooms and Teacher Shortages

By: Sherry Mohr

Because it’s Friday and I’m still in the throes of research for my next post, I’ll make this one short and sweet. I was driving home the other day when an episode of “Press Play with Madeleine Brand” came on the radio. This episode caught my attention because it focused on the teacher shortage within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). John Rogers, Director at the Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access and professor of Education at UCLA, discussed the many reasons for this shortage and how it currently affects students today.

LAUSD is experiencing an increase in student enrollment, and classrooms are filling to the brink. When the recession hit, many teachers received the dreaded “March pink slip” and class sizes nearly doubled, increasing from 20 – 25 students to over 33 students per class. That increase may not seem like much, but for a teacher who is, not only trying to engage the students, but also expected to increase API scores, that increase is everything. These teachers must now educate a large class body of diverse students ranging from students with special needs, ESL students, underachieving students, overachieving students who are bored, etc. The list goes on. Rogers also attributes the teacher shortage to the lack of support they receive within their profession. He believes that this, along with poor teacher salary, has deterred many from receiving their credentials and has dissuaded others from continuing their careers as teachers.

In 2012, the California Department of Education released a report called, “Greatness by Design,” in an attempt to revive teacher education and support. It’s been three years since this report was released. Are you a teacher experiencing large class sizes? How have you handled it? Have large class sizes affected your ability to teach?