Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Today we had a guest speaker named Steve Melzer--a Columbia grad--who works for the Department of Education for the City of New York, and his presentation was extremely enlightening. Prior to the fact, I had some very strong ideas about how the education system works, but now I see that they are misconceptions.
One thing that really struck me in the presentation is when he showed us the data that shows that there is no correlation between class size and student performance. In fact, the best performing schools here have some of the largest classes. It hit me that it has a lot more to do with the quality of the teacher's skills and the educational background of the student than how many physical bodies are in the class.
Another thing that really affected me in the presentation was his explanation of how the budget works in a school district. I had no idea that the money in so many areas was untouchable and that the arts, sports, and other "extra-curriculars" are often the only area where funds can be moved around to other areas where they're needed.
Incidentally those are some of the most important areas so we have a bit of a quandary. He gave me a lot to think about.