fifteen

Yesterday I heard that one of the kindergarten teachers at another elementary school in my district has fifteen students. That’s one ten and five ones.

I have twenty-two students. That’s two tens and two ones. I have seven more students than she does.

But numbers alone don’t tell the whole story.

Her school is in an affluent neighborhood. Sheesh. What a stupid word.

Let me be frank.

Her kids don’t worry about their next meal. Her kids speak English. Her kids’ parents speak English. Her kids come to school with book bags full of supplies and heads full of words and numbers.

I know that my kids’ parents are doing all they can to support their kids. I appreciate everything they do to help their kids succeed. They want their kids to have better lives than they are able to provide. But their limited resources – physical and mental – are challenged at every turn.

And in spite of the huge difference between these two groups of kids, I wouldn’t exchange my kids for hers.

But 15 vs 22?

That’s unfair to my kids and to me and to my school.

We will be compared. My kids’ scores will be compared to theirs. My teaching ability will be compared to their teacher’s ability. And my school will be compared to theirs.

More than half of my kids don’t speak English at home. More than half never held a pencil, crayon or a pair of scissors before they came to kindergarten. More than half of my kids have parents who want desperately to help their kids read at home, but can’t read the little books I send home. More than half of my kids’ parents struggle to provide supplies, field trip money and money for other incidentals throughout the school year.

And I have seven more kids than she does.

I would never be able to choose 7 of my kids to give up. Each one is so precious to me. But when I think of what I could do with 15 that I can’t possibly do with 22, it makes me sad for all my kids.

Less paperwork. More time for learning. Less classroom management. More time for learning. More time for talking to parents. More time for talking to kids. More one-on-one time for every student. Smaller and fewer groups. It all would mean more time for learning.

The experts who say that class size doesn’t matter are crazy. It matters to every single child. Especially to kids living in desperate poverty. Disadvantaged kids deserve the same education that advantaged kids get.

My 22 deserve to be 15.