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Lawmakers look at issues impacting schools before upcoming session begins

Lawmakers look at growing class sizes
Posted at 4:41 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 19:09:14-04

TULSA, Okla. — Legislators are gathering this week to look at issues impacting schools going into the upcoming session. That includes growing class sizes.

"It's really, really difficult to give one on one attention to every single student... even if you're spreading these assignments over two to three days. It's still pretty impossible to get with every student to give them the one on one attention that they need," Union High School teacher Jim Douthat said.

At Union 8th Grade Center, teachers tell 2 Works for You some classes have close to 40 students, and that can have an impact on long-term learning.

"The behavior issues, kids that are in trauma... trying to identify that trauma and help those individual kids... it's hard to do if you're in a class of almost 40 versus a class of 25 or 30," Betty Collins said.

Lawmakers across Oklahoma are looking at legislation to address class sizes, but teachers said that will only work if the money is there.

"What I'm worried about is that legislation comes across that states that public schools need to not have more than X number of students in the classroom without any funding or any way to support those types of laws," Douthat said.

House Bill 1017 was passed in 1990 mandating standards for districts: 20 students for elementary schools and 140 per day on secondary campuses.

"Because the budget kept getting cut year after year that mandate was never enforced and so the legislature has not been imposing penalties or fines on districts that have bigger class sizes," Collins said.

This is something legislators are looking to potentially re-work this year.

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