A father in Florida is suing his local school district because classes are too large at the elementary school his son attends.
The Boca Raton dad says his son’s kindergarten class has 21 kids even though the Florida Constitution says classes in kindergarten through third grade can only have up to 18 kids.
“It is beyond the limit and it is too much. The teacher can’t spend as much time with the students. And you can’t keep an eye on that many kids. It is hard to do,” Paul Kunz told WPTV in West Palm Beach.
The dad told the news station he didn’t want to file a lawsuit but that the school district wasn’t responsive to his concerns.
“The answer was we are allowed to do it. There isn’t a problem,” he says.
The district is still reviewing the allegations, WPTV reports, but apparently there are loopholes in the law that allow schools to get away with having higher class size numbers.
Dr. Kathi Gundlach, the president of the Palm Beach County Teacher’s Union, told the station that class sizes are an issue.
“I think it (the lawsuit) is good that it brings up the issue that the state is not funding education appropriately. It also brings up the fact that a law was passed that said there is a certain class size and the legislature has whittled it down and whittled it down,” Gundlach says.
Kunz isn’t seeking money in the lawsuit and simply wants a judge to decide whether the school is breaking the law or not, according to WPTV.
I applaud this father for taking action on an issue that directly affects his son’s educational opportunities. Research has shown that children learn more and teachers can be more effective in smaller class sizes, the National Education Policy Center reports.
While some question the dad’s choice to sue the district, I fully agree with Kunz’s decision to take a stand against class sizes that are too big. He was right to call out the district for not complying with an apparent state law and if the district wouldn’t take his concerns seriously, what choice did he have?
But this family – and all kids in Florida – are lucky that their state even has a law that restricts how many students can be in each class. Here in Michigan, there’s not a single restriction. Districts can have class size targets and contracts with teachers that talk about class size but there’s no law limiting class sizes.
The result? School districts across our area regularly have class sizes around 30 or more (and the exact data is almost impossible for parents to find and compare). Schools in Detroit reportedly have upper grade class sizes in the 40s.
Only some select districts are so lucky (or well-funded) to be able to boast class sizes in the low 20s. It makes Kunz’s complaint about 21 kids seem almost laughable.
But I’m not laughing. What choice do parents in states like ours have to contest our outrageous class sizes? I know from experience that school boards and district administration will point to inadequate funding from the state. Maybe it’s time for local parents to do something, too.
What do you think? Was Kunz right to file a lawsuit? What do you think parents in metro Detroit can do to advocate for lower class sizes? Tell us in the comments.