When it meets again in January, the Legislature is set to address a budget shortfall of more than $20 billion. To help combat that shortfall state lawmakers will be considering some unpopular solutions, including laws concerning education.
Back in 1984, the legislature agreed to a 22-to-1 ratio of elementary students to teachers in an effort to decrease class size and increase academic goals. Some lawmakers want to increase that ratio which would save an estimated $558 million, mostly through elimination of thousands of teaching jobs. Comptroller Susan Combs and other legislative leaders say easing the requirement would not only save money but it would also give school districts more flexibility in educating students.
State Senator Kel Seliger believes any changes should be decided at the district level, and not as state mandates.
"Let the school district decide, based upon what they feel the needs are...given their faculty and makeup of their classrooms and let them teach efficiently. Let the school district decide how to most teach efficiently."
The current limit actually averages out to be about 19.3 students per class. The proposed change would cap the number of students to an average of 25 per class.
Teacher groups, backed by Democrats in the House and Senate, say any change will reverse academic gains in elementary schools and force the elimination of as many as 12,000 teaching jobs.
In an article by the Associated Press, Richard Kouri of the Texas State Teachers Association said the class-size cap has been one of the most popular requirements in schools for years.
Adopting the comptroller's recommendation to eliminate the cap "will put a lot of teachers out of work and put a lot of kids in bigger classes," he said. "Is that what Texas parents really want?"
What do you think, should lawmakers scrap the 22-student limit in kindergarten through fourth grade? Weigh in with our poll below, and let us know what you think in the comments