What We Can Learn From Overcrowded Classrooms

Unfortunately, we are at a point in history where teachers need to defend the importance of smaller classes on student achievement and future success, as if this were not common sense. This is a clear indication that lack of funding, or perhaps mismanagement of finances has become such an issue that those in charge of schools are trying to deny what we all intuitively know is true—one teacher cannot effectively teach 30 plus students in one class. The pressures of new teacher evaluations requiring personalized, individual instruction plans and nearly daily communication with parents creates an impossible situation for the teacher. Gone are the days when teachers merely brought home grading every night. Now teachers struggle to keep up with individual lesson plans, tracking individual students, documenting data, keeping up with parent contacts, and grading. Catching up and completing work is now impossible, no matter how many outside hours are put in, and the stress of these demands is driving experienced, quality teachers from the profession in a mass exodus, and they are quickly replaced by first year teachers who do not know what they are in for. On the middle school and high school level, teachers are required to personally know and teach five or more 30-plus-student classes of different students. The real injustice is to the student who is expected to focus in an overcrowded classroom with an overworked teacher who cannot possibly give them individual attention—that, and the fact that teachers continue to be held accountable for what students learn, despite the fact that class sizes and duties have become unmanageable for anyone, regardless of his or her skill, dedication, or experience.

Snagged from eagnews.org

If you listen to the likes of the StreetsBlog crowd you will learn that:

  • Congested streets and highways are bad
  • Congested neighborhoods are an advantage

How is that even possible. Well they dress up the densely packed housing of apartment buildings and high-rises as advantageous to ‘walking‘. This would be true. If you have ever tried to get around the City of Chicago in a car you know that the thing that keeps you up at night is the prospect of not being able to find a parking space when you reach your destination.

They ignore the problem as it applies to bicycles. The reason they do that is because it makes the idea of bicycling less attractive if you have to deal with the same sorts of real-world issues as car drivers.

Besides, if you lock your bike up to someones private property it is less likely to get towed than if you did this same thing with an automobile. And frankly every fence and post in the city is ‘fair game‘ for lazy bicyclists who dream of nothing more satisfying than dialing 311 to complain about motorists who park in their lane, but have no idea why riding the sidewalks of Michigan Avenue should be considered a problem.

Adding New Drapes and Wallpaper

Suppose you live in an abusive relationship. Your spouse beats you. But you decide to stay. To cheer yourself up you decide to replace your drapes with something more festive. And if that is not to your liking, you perhaps engage in the replacing of your wallpaper.

You do this to cheer yourself up and to keep your children from falling into the misery of fear and a resulting depression over the real-life conditions that exist in their home. You would call the local spousal-abuse hotline, but you have been threatened even greater bodily harm should you try this.

So you create a visual diversion which will make your visitors as well as your children think that all is well.

Bike Lanes Are A Diversion

If you are in a city where people are killing one another and even the authorities seem to be out-of-control it is easy to think that adding new drapes (think, bike lanes) is the answer. Bike lanes do not resolve the abuse/violence problems that exist in your city. What they do is give the ‘elites‘ a diversion that makes them think progress towards a greater semblance of order is afoot.

It helps when you can spend $100M on an elevated walkway that services people on foot or on bikes. It makes you believe that all the crime and bloodshed and chaos that you live amidst, really isn’t so bad.

But the problem is caused by ‘overcrowding‘. Like any classroom, too many students and not enough resources result in chaos. The students who are least likely to learn in a congested environment, fall even further behind. The teacher gets frazzled and emotionally undone.

And you suddenly realize why some teachers resort to physical abuse in a classroom, or name calling or leave the profession altogether to preserve their physical and mental health. These same symptoms are showing up in every single service/organization in some cities.

The income gap between those in greatest need of social services and the ‘elites‘ is like trying to breath while in a choke hold. Any sort of disruption can unleash a barrage of violence that might be a hail of bullets or stabbings.

There Is A Tyranny Of Congestion

If you are living amongst a citizenry that is largely homogenous in income, education and social class things can be less stressful. But frankly few places in America or Europe for that matter are without their underclass.

When the citizenry hired by cities to help manage these situations begin to believe that the problems are insoluble, violence, apathy and aggression being to emerge. No one likes to believe that a situation is hopeless. But countless teachers, social workers, law enforcement officers and politicians have thrown up their hands and simply ‘given up‘.

Trying to change the ‘wall paper‘ or the ‘drapes‘ is not a real solution. It might offer you some police until the next time you spouse turns abusive. But eventually even your neighbors will begin to notice the bruises on your face, arms and legs.

Cities are the same way. We are seeing the failings of cities to manage congested regions where everything from the Mass Transit system to the educational system is failing. And when there is a breakdown in the law enforcement services, you have the recipe for disaster.