Subtract Teachers, Add Pupils: Math of Today’s Jammed Schools
By MOTOKO RICH
Published: December 21, 2013
COATESVILLE, Pa. — The recession may have ended, but many of the nation’s school districts that laid off teachers and other employees to cut payrolls in leaner times have not yet replenished their ranks. Now, despite the recovery, many schools face unwieldy class sizes and a lack of specialists to help those students who struggle academically, are learning English as a second language or need extra emotional support.
Donna Guy’s fourth-grade class at Caln Elementary School here is too big — 30 pupils — for the room, so some of them sit halfway into a coat closet. Across town at Rainbow Elementary School, the 36 third graders in Kristen Pleasanton’s gym class rotate on and off the bench during 25 minutes of seven-a-side soccer games, because she cannot supervise all of them playing at once.
And during social studies class at Scott Middle School, Keith Lilienfeld tries to keep control of a class of 25 students, 10 who need special education services, four who know little or no English and others who need more challenging work than he has time to give.
“I’m up there putting out fires like you wouldn’t believe,” said Mr. Lilienfeld, who used to have the help of two or three classroom aides. “There’s only one of me, and there’s a need