STATEMENT OF CINDY KERR, President, MCCPTA

February 9, 2005 MCPS Press Conference at Wyngate Elementary School 10:30 a.m.

 

This year the number one priority of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs over 50,000 members has been to advocate for class size reductions in every classroom in every school in every cluster throughout the Montgomery County Public School system.  The announcement of the MCPS class size reduction initiative is an exciting first step toward achieving this goal.  We are very glad that our voices were heard and that our children will benefit from this initiative.  We know research has shown that children in classrooms with excellent teachers who have manageable class environments achieve at higher levels.  We want to make sure that our children are in classrooms that allow our teachers to answer the essential questions that are necessary for success: Has every child learned what she needs to learn? and if so, is she ready to move ahead and if not, how can we help her to learn it?   In order for each child to have his or her needs met the teacher must be able to give that child the attention needed and we must make sure that we give our teachers the capacity to fulfill that promise.

           We are very pleased that our youngest students will immediately benefit from the class size reductions this year. It had been too many years since the Board of Education guidelines on class size were revisited in light of changing demands resulting from new curriculum and an increasingly diverse student population.   But with ongoing emphasis on increased rigor we believe that class sizes in our middle and high schools must also be reduced as quickly as possible to facilitate the success of every student.  The addition of 40 teacher positions is another step in the right direction, but does not adequately address the pressing needs at the secondary level. During the period of transition, as resources necessary to attain appropriate class sizes are accrued, we continue to urge MCPS to provide more paraeducators to enhance instruction

           As MCPS continues with the new Grading and Reporting initiative, the need to reduce class sizes throughout the system from early childhood to high school will become MORE crucial.  MCPS has put into place many new programs to meet the needs of our diverse populations; we are glad that they have added the county-wide class size reduction as a component of an overall strategy for serving the needs of all of our children.

            We look forward to continuing to work with the Board of Education, the
County Executive and the County Council to support a quality education for every student in our County.