How Do 37 Students Fit Into 20 Seats? Doing the Failed Math of My Oversized English Class

A survey by the non-profit California Watch found that many schools in the state are pushing class sizes up. California ranks 49th in the nation in terms of student-to-teacher ratios. Journalist and high school student Melissa Vargas reports from her experiences at Lincoln High School.

How Do 37 Students Fit Into 20 Seats?  Doing the Failed Math of My Oversized English Class

An education focused non-profit, California Watch, surveyed the 30 largest K-12 school districts in the state and found that many schools are pushing class sizes up. California already ranks 48th in the nation in terms of student-to-teacher ratios. Journalist and high school student Melissa Vargas reports from her experiences at Lincoln High School.

I’ve always been an A student. I liked doing my work and asking questions whenever I was having doubts about something. My teachers always gave me the attention I needed and answered all my questions. All that changed for me when I started high school. I got my schedule and was excited to start because I got interesting classes. My enthusiasm started to slowly go down as I entered every room to find myself stuck between the wall and door! I could believe it, how can there be so many students assigned to one class? The worst one was English fourth period.

I could barely breath in a small damp room with 20 seats and kids crowded up all around the walls and back of the room. There was even kids behind the teachers desk. The teacher took role. There were 37 students! They had to add almost 20 more desks. WOW. Anyways, somehow they managed to fit in all the extra desks.

Things just didn’t work out for me in that class. To make things worst, I got stuck with sitting next to the most annoying and disrupting kids of the class. The talking would not stop the whole period. Pens, pencils, and balls of paper would be flying back and forth across the room. I occasionally got literally knocked out of a moment of concentration. Paying full attention and even hearing the teacher was a mission. The day our class text books were handed out, I had to almost dive to get one. There was not enough, and not enough money to buy more for all the students who needed one. My grades went down that year. That made so mad because I knew it was not my fault. I knew that if it wasn’t for the guy playing his ipod full blast and for the girl talking to her boyfriend on the phone during class, I would of finished and past that exam. When I couldn’t take it anymore I decided to go talk to my teacher before class. To my dam freakin’ surprise, he didn’t know my name! When I asked if I could have a word with him he said yes, but, “What’s your name?” It was the end of a whole semester, and my own teacher did not know my name. I was shocked and at the same time angry. It was not fair. I took the time to do my work, turn in projects and do my best in class; time the majority of the class did not even bother thinking about, and my own teacher didn’t know my name still. I was one of the what, five students, that actually did something productively in class? After my intense conversation with my English teacher, he apologized for not remembering my name, and we had a pretty long conversation about class.

Apparently, he was also very much fed up with the oversized, loud, and disruptive class. He said he tried complaining to the principal about it, but nothing changed. At the end, after complaint after complaint from other students, letter after letter from parents, the school ended up making two English classes out of the massive fourth period class. I stayed with the same teacher. He learned my name (finally). Most important, my grade in that class went up. I got more attention from my teacher and I could give him mine. No more outburst and flying pencils. No more boyfriend conversations or loud Ipods.

Having a smaller class actually made a huge difference for me and many other students. If schools have enough money buy every teacher the newest laptop on the market (like they do at my school) and get all these fancy electronics for their office, I’m pretty sure they got enough money to buy some extra desks and have more classrooms for all the students. Don't be lazy and greedy!  

More info:
* California Watch — Despite state subsidies, class sizes begin to rise again in California schools

Image from californiawatch.org.

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