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Teachers Are Overloaded; Class-Size Reduction Is Vital

May 19, 2003

Re "Bitter, but a New Start," editorial, May 15: Your reference to the $180 million in the state budget spared for elementary classroom-size reduction as "spending for nonvital services" is sadly inconsistent with "Writing Real Good," another editorial on the same page. In the latter, you criticize high school teachers for not teaching grammar effectively, but you also point out that those teachers have 180 students per day.

Think about it. If class sizes were reduced not just for grades K-3 but for grades K-12, teachers would have the time to not only correct all papers with a "fine pencil" but also to discuss the corrections with students so that they would not repeat the same errors. Of course, K-12 class-size reduction is out of the question with this year's budget shortfall, but isn't reducing class size in the primary grades when students are learning important basics a laudable start? Instead of calling K-3 class-size reduction "spending for nonvital services," shouldn't you be calling it "spending for a good beginning"?

Constance Giguere

Palos Verdes Peninsula

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Your two editorials display a disconcerting lack of understanding of the teaching of English in our high schools. Many high school English teachers have five classes per day, totaling perhaps 165 students. I contend that trying to teach this many students five days per week is an overload, even assuming that all of the students are eager to learn and have come into high school properly prepared.

You mention essays, with seemingly no understanding that these (165 of them!) have to be corrected at home after an already long day at school and after other duties such as parent meetings, etc. And do you really feel that Gov. Gray Davis is guilty of spending for "nonvital services" when he advocates money for class-size reduction?

Francis R. Motheral

Upland

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When recently discussing the non-correction of my son's misspellings with his English teacher, my wife and I were astonished at her response that from middle school forward he didn't need to learn spelling, due to spell-checker technology. Following a moment's stunned silence, I noted that spell-checkers often serve only to allow one to spell the wrong word correctly (their, there).

Doubtless she feels the same regarding grammar. After all, current word-processing software also has grammar checkers, no? English teachers 30 years ago had the same student load and managed to teach spelling, grammar, case, sentence diagraming -- all sorts of useful things. Why aren't these topics taught anymore? Laziness, pure and simple.

Dave Cavena

Glendora

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