Search “#ClassSizeChaos” on Twitter and you will find the beginnings of a grassroots movement to get the North Carolina General Assembly to take action on the class size mandate that it is currently using to hold public school systems hostage because it is an unfunded directive designed to force LEA’s to make cuts to certain aspects of education.
From Lindsay Wagner’s recent article ” Will North Carolina schools see a fix in January for the class size crisis?”:
If current law stands and the General Assembly does not fund enhancement teachers or make other changes this January, local school districts will have to begin drawing up plans to comply with the mandate that include the following scenarios, they say: increase class sizes in grades 4-12; cut or displace arts, music, PE and special education classes; reassign students to different schools to alleviate crowding; and, in some cases, eliminate or displace Pre-Kindergarten (https://www.ednc.org/2017/12/06/will-north-carolina-schools-see-fix-january-class-size-crisis/).
Wagner is one of our best education journalists and what she also highlights in this article is the Senate’s seemingly purposeful ignorance of doing something about his unfunded mandate that threatens so much in our state’s schools.
Justin Parmenter’s recent op-ed in the Charlotte Observer is another excellent summary of the debacle that this class size mandate has become – http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article186085753.html?. platform=hootsuitev.
Simply put, this is our General Assembly at work. Or rather our General Assembly intentionally not working.
That’s why “#ClassSizeChaos” has become an important movement. Public Schools First NC and NC PTA just hosted a webinar on how to bring more voice to this vital issue — an issue that must be dealt with in the January session.
Make no mistake, if this mandate goes untouched by the General Assembly, then the effects will not just be felt in K-3 classes. All grades will be affected. ALL GRADES.
That means all students will be AFFECTED by a willful attack on our public schools’ ability to teach the whole child.
One of the more popular electives in my school is the Shakespeare course. It is not a “core” course, but does attract a lot of students who may not have otherwise taken a specific literature course in their high school career outside their English core requirements.
The section I teach this year is currently in the middle of Hamlet considered by many to be Shakespeare’s masterpiece. (Actually, Shakespeare has many masterpieces, but that is my humble opinion).
There is a scene where a traveling troupe of “players” comes to Elsinore and are welcomed eagerly by Hamlet. He sees an opportunity to allow art to imitate life in his quest to avenge his father’s unnatural death. With him at that time is Polonius, the father of Ophelia who represents an older generation who is unwilling to see how the younger generation can further shape the world.
Polonius is a older white man who has made a career of becoming politically powerful so that he can dictate how others should live.
Hamlet asks one of the players to give a spur-of-the-moment rendition of a speech about how Pyrrhus’s revenge upon Priam for the death of his father during the latter part of the Trojan War. It is moving.
The uptight and unmoved Polonius does not think much of the speech. Hamlet admonishes him. He says in Act II, scene ii:
HAMLET: ’Tis well. I’ll have thee speak out the rest of
this soon.—Good my lord, will you see the players
well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used,
for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the
time. After your death you were better have a bad
epitaph than their ill report while you live.
That’s a stinging admonishment. Hamlet is telling Polonius that the role of these artists is far more important than people like Polonius realize. What the arts allow society to do is chronicle actual history precisely and genuinely rather than hastily within a revised text.
Odd that a tragic character from a play from over 400 years ago tells us that we need to keep the “arts” and specials alive in our own schools lest we be looked upon in history as close-minded. What’s more ironic is that according to NC’s curriculum standards with the Common Core, we have to somehow expose students in all high school grades to some sort of Shakespeare.
Hamlet also teaches us that when a king’s castle is out of order, then the country it supposedly rules is out of sorts as well.
#ClassSizeChaos is a product of a few on West Jones Street in Raleigh. The likes of Phil Berger and Chad Barefoot and Jerry Tillman should take up this issue lest the chaos become more tragic.
They do not need anymore of an “ill report.”