Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states.

Education

Sec. Duncan: Districts Need to Rethink Class Size, Salary Structure

By Alyson Klein — November 17, 2010 1 min read

The dismal economic climate may well represent “new normal” for schools, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said today at a forum sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank.

That means schools are going to have to make hard choices, Duncan said. And he’s hoping they’ll use the opportunity fundamentally rethink long-held ideas, such as the need for students to have a certain amount of “seat time” in each particular class, class size, and teacher pay scales that reward educators for getting advanced degrees.

Duncan is hoping that school administrators won’t cut areas that directly impact the classroom, such as trimming instructional time, and scrapping art and music classes. And he doesn’t want districts laying off “talented young teachers.”

“Unfortunately this pattern of cutbacks has too often prevailed in the past,” he said.

Instead, districts might want to look at rethinking transportation routes, and closing down schools that are under-enrolled, Duncan suggested.

And he urged districts to consider “modest but smartly targeted increases in class size.” As a parent, Duncan said, he’d much rather have his kids in a class of 26 with a really excellent teacher, than in a class with 22 kids, lead by a mediocre teacher. And he said that in Asian countries that tend to do well on international benchmarks (like South Korea and Japan) average classes in secondary schools are in the mid 30’s, as opposed to the U.S. average of about 25.

During a question and answer period, one teacher questioned that rationale, saying that if she took on additional students, that’s asking her to do more for the same amount of money. Duncan said he’d like districts to consider reworking contracts so that effective teachers (particularly those who choose to work with more kids) can make a lot more money, say $80,000, or even $125,000.

I think there are lots of folks out there who would probably agree that is a good conversation to have. But I’m wondering if the economic downturn will make those types of discussions easier (as in, we have to cut costs anyway, so let’s rethink salary structure) or much harder (since districts may not have the spare cash for huge salary increases.) What do you think?

And what’s your take on Duncan’s class size comments? Comments section is open!

Events

School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Principal-Elementary School
San Antonio, TX, US
Southwest Independent School District
Principal-Elementary School
San Antonio, TX, US
Southwest Independent School District
Principal-Elementary School
San Antonio, TX, US
Southwest Independent School District
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read