Class size limitations were relaxed by the Florida legislature and it’s taken a while to see what the real-world results would be. As many predicted, it’s not good. Not good at all. In Broward, some class sizes overflowing despite state caps.
In Anne Skurnick’s earth science class, sixth-graders conduct laboratory experiments on the floor because there isn’t enough space.
Just one month into the new school year, teachers in the Broward School District say their classrooms are overflowing. The reason: Lawmakers added flexibility to the state’s class-size law and Broward cut about 1,000 teachers to help balance its budget. Teachers say that means they have less one-on-one attention to give students, take longer to grade and return homework, and can’t cover as much material in class.
The most startling class size difference this year is perhaps in Advanced Placement and foreign language. Those courses were limited to 25 students per class last year, but now can have 30, 40 or even more students — a scenario that upsets parents.
At Pines Middle in Pembroke Pines, Skurnick’s biggest class is 29 — that’s seven students over the limit. As an earth science teacher, she does one lab experiment a week.
But she has a regular classroom — not a lab — and little room to move around. To make space, she shoves the desks to either side of the room and has students sit on the floor.
“It looks like sardines,” she said of her classroom.
At Monarch High in Coconut Creek, Cunningham’s biggest geography class has 37 students. Another has 34. Because his classroom has 30 desks, Cunningham sat the extra students at a table.
“It’s easy for them to get off task,” he said.