Sunday, June 26, 2011

'Tis a Puzzlement

Back in May, John Mason did a feature article in the Register-Star about class size in Columbia County school districts: "Class sizes on the mind." In it he reported that, from 2007 to 2010, average class sizes in the Hudson City School District stayed at 18 to 19 in the primary school, 22 or 23 in the intermediate school, and between 15 and 24 in the high school. 

Recently Gossips received some statistics about the number of students, teachers, and aides in the Hudson City School District from 1996 to 2011. In 1996, there were 2,513 students in the district, 185 teachers, and 56 aides. That's one teacher for every 13.6 students and one aide for every 44.9 students. In 2011, there were 1,921 students in the district, 185 teachers, and 71 aides. That's one teacher for every 10.4 students and one aide for every 27 students.

A few questions arise. Why, if the number of students decreased by 24 percent, did the number of teachers remain unchanged and the number of aides increase by 21 percent? And why, if the ratio of students to teachers is something like 10 to 1, is the average class size something like 20? Are 50 percent of the district teachers not working in classrooms but involved instead in some kind of special "pull-out" or "push-in" instruction? 'Tis a puzzlement.   


  1. Friday's Business Review ranked Hudson 83 out of 85 in the Capital District...same standing as last year. Our children deserve better...we can no longer "settle for mediocrity or less". This is so sad for our community.

    28 36 Kinderhook (Ichabod Crane)88.39
    40 52 Germantown Columbia 86.33
    42 34 New Lebanon Columbia 85.62
    54 33 Chatham Columbia 83.06
    63 62 Taconic Hills Columbia 80.08
    83 83 Hudson Columbia 65.79

  2. It's not a puzzlement; it's a swindle.

  3. Susan Troy submitted this comment:

    I'm wondering if the number of Special Education classrooms and ESL classrooms has increased, which might be one explanation as to why the teacher levels have remained the same and the teacher aide levels have increased. I'm thinking Mr. Meyer knows the answer to this question and might kindly reply.

    If that is the case, it would be interesting to look at the data over a period of time - maybe five or ten years - and then start an entirely new community conversation about the causes and the potential solutions.


  4. Susan raises a very good question. Hudson has a huge Special Ed population (some 20 percent of the entire studentbody), which requires much more manpower per student than the general population. But our biggest problem is leadership and the unions: we don't have the will (at the board level) to fix problems like Special Ed and we don't have the power (because of state laws) to let go of ineffective teachers. And it will only get worse as the cap teeth sink in (with an enormous loophole regarding -- what else? -- teacher pensions. But my guess is that the overall teacher-to-student (and aid-to-student) ratio is so low because of the high number of special ed students we now "serve." That's the short answer.... As always, anyone who wants to get involved in helping us dig out of this hole, please get in touch. thanks, peter meyer.