Movement to shrink class size falters amid budget austerity

In several states, small classes are becoming a casualty of the recession, ending roughly two decades of shrinking classroom size, reports. For example, a proposal in Texas to loosen elementary school class-size requirements has touched off a skirmish that could consume the state’s legislative session this year. State Comptroller Susan Combs said last month that relaxing the state’s 27-year-old class-size cap could save $558 million at a time when lawmakers are grappling with a $27 billion two-year deficit. The proposal has found some support in the Legislature, where Republicans last year cemented their hold on government. Teachers’ groups, parents, and some local school officials are pushing back, setting the stage for a prolonged battle over a rule that, in the words of one superintendent, has become “sacrosanct.” Similar debates are playing out in state capitals across the country as states and school districts prepare for what could be the most gruesome budget year of the current fiscal crisis. With billions of dollars in federal stimulus money expiring at the end of the fiscal year, policy makers will be confronted with anemic revenues at a time of rising health care and social service costs…

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