MEA: Maine suffering from “ballooning class sizes.” Really?

MEA: Maine suffering from “ballooning class sizes.” Really?

May 24, 2010 Posted by Steve Bowen - 3 Comments

According to a recent press release from the Maine Education Association, cuts to school budgets are leading to the layoffs of “hundreds of educators,” resulting in “ballooning class sizes”.

Really?

I recently did some work tracking pupil/teacher ratios in Maine over the past few years. The chart below appears in a presentation I did for legislators back in January.

According to data from the Maine Department of Education, Maine’s  average pupil/teacher ratios have plummeted in recent years as statewide school enrollments have dropped:

What the MEA neglects to tell anyone is that there are 30,000 fewer children in Maine’s K-12 schools than there were 15 years ago.  So today, we have 188,712 students in our public schools, and 17,847 teachers to teach them. That is a pupil/teacher ratio of 10.5 to 1, even lower than the ratio indicated in the chart above, which only goes to 2006.

According to the U.S. Department of Education (which calculated Maine’s pupil/teacher ratio to be an even lower 9.0 to 1 for the 2007-2008 school year), Maine’s pupil/teacher ratio is the lowest in the nation. The national average is 15 to 1. Education Week, which recently calculated our pupil/teacher ratio at the elementary level to be an unimaginably low 8.8 to 1, concurred that Maine’s teachers, on average, have fewer students to teach than their peers in any other state.

Maine’s K-12 education system has plenty of problems, but having too few teachers is not one of them, despite the MEA’s claims to the contrary.