June 22, 2015

WRAL TV owner Jim Goodmon must really have his nose bent out of shape by the State Senate’s refusal to keep rewarding him with big tax breaks for historic property development.

WRAL immediately attacked the conservative budget for cutting thousands of teacher assistants. Only guess what. WRAL didn’t bother to report that the money saved from lesser trained teacher aides is going into hiring more teachers to reduce class size.

For the money spent on teacher aides, our schools could hire 7,500 new teachers at $50,000 apiece. The Senate plan reduces class size down to one teacher per every 15 students in the critical early grades. That ratio of 1:15 matches the proposal the teacher’s union says will do the most to help students.

According to Tennessee’s study of class size reduction compared to teacher assistants funding, class size reduction produced better results for learning achievement. And isn’t that the point of education, not just hiring of bunch of lesser trained staff?

In fact, those with long memories know that Governor Hunt created the teaching assistants program nearly 40 years ago when class sizes were often one to 20 or 25 kids and the teacher aide was needed to help quell the bedlam. Now we are at 1:18 and the Senate budget lowers it again to 1:15, 15% improvement.

There is no doubt teacher aides are effective. But teachers are more effective based on quality research.

Laura Leslie didn’t bother to mention more teachers or anything about research on the effectiveness of teacher aides compared to more teachers. Yep. Jim Goodmon must really be upset that he is losing lucrative tax breaks.