The nutty professor

Remember how many analysts now say that improving teacher quality is loads more important than reducing class size? Well, famed Columbia sociologist Herbert J. Gans must not have gotten that memo. This week, he urges President Obama to think long term with his stimulus dollars, specifically, you guessed it, to shrink class sizes. Why? According to Gans, it would improve teacher performance, create more teaching (and construction) jobs, encourage "more equality," advance "democracy," and remove the "political glamour" of charter schools and vouchers. What happened to student achievement? Seems not to matter much to Gans: "Whatever reduced class sizes would do for students, the teaching profession might reap the greatest benefits." Let's put aside for a second the largely-agreed-upon fact that reduced class sizes are super expensive and will do nothing for students, save perhaps for the youngest tots. What's more troubling is Gans's apparent belief that federal policies should serve the adults working in the public school system and not the children served by it. Pooh on him.

"President Obama: Time for a Federal Small-Class Program," by Herbert J. Gans, Education Week, April 27, 2009 (subscription required)