Crystal Chambers: Smaller is safer

January 3, 2013 

Smaller is safer

The stories of Sandy Hook Elementary survivors trickle out, and I am struck by a common element enabling teachers to shield their students: small class sizes.

In one story, a teacher huddled her students into a bathroom, placing one on top of the toilet. Another teacher placed her children in a closet, and still another hid children in closed cubbies.

In each story, there were only 15 children in the class. How accurate these stories are, time will tell. Nevertheless, the number 15 is significant in that research out of Project Starr in Tennessee identified 15 as an ideal class size.

The learning ideal aside, I don’t think my son’s elementary school teachers could fit the 25-plus students in their classrooms in bathrooms or closets. I wonder also for the safety of students and teachers in trailers outside of the main building. Would they get cues to protect children similarly? Larger class sizes and trailers are commonplace for one reason: funding. Declining per pupil spending in Wake County coupled with rising enrollments impinge on the ability to provide ideal learning environments.

Now, there is another factor to consider as the debate to increase revenues circles on: safety.

Crystal Chambers

Raleigh

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