On July 3, the U.S. Department of Education started mailing the first installment of $1.3 billion in Class-Size Reduction funds allocated for the school year 2000-2001. Those funds will enable local communities to hire an estimated 29,000 teachers to reduce class sizes in grades 2 through 3, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. The program will benefit approximately 1.7 million children -- in 90,000 classrooms and more than 20,000 schools -- in the upcoming school year, Riley reported.
"Twice before, bipartisan congressional majorities have supported the president's proposal to help local communities throughout the nation lower class size. Unfortunately, now, with its most recent budget, the majority in Congress is preparing to break its promise to parents, students, and the American public by failing to continue this funding. I sincerely hope that the Congress can move beyond partisanship and work together with the administration to continue to support smaller classes in early grades," Riley said in a Department of Education press release.
"Class-size reduction is something that is so clearly beneficial to helping our children learn and helping teachers teach better that I am bewildered by any effort to block it," added Riley. "Indeed, we must reject the efforts of those who would force communities to choose either smaller classes or better prepared teachers, when we plainly have the resources necessary to invest in both."
One hundred percent of the funds mailed this month and in October go to local school districts, which may use the funds directly to hire teachers in grades K through 3, recruit and test new teachers, or provide training opportunities to upgrade the skills of their teaching staff. Districts that have already reduced class size to 18 or fewer students in grades K through 3 can use their allocations to make further reductions in those grades, reduce class size in other grades, or carry out activities to improve teacher quality.
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
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