Parents, Mayor Wharton weigh in on class size bill - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Parents, Mayor Wharton weigh in on class size bill

(WMC-TV) - A plan to increase class sizes in Tennessee has been met with resistance.

"I know first-hand, having been a teacher before being a PTA president, that class size does matter," said Peabody Elementary PTA co-president Mandy Grisham.

Grisham is not keen on a new bill to lift the cap on class sizes in Tennessee.

"Even if they are a highly effective teacher and a very efficient teacher, there are still additional responsibilities that are added to their workload," said Grisham.

The bill, sponsored by Collierville Senator Mark Norris and supported by Governor Bill Haslam, would lift the class size to 25 in Kindergarten through third grade, 30 in grades four through six, and 35 in grades seven through 12.

Grisham said increased class sizes could mean more money for support.

"They'd need teacher aides, assistants in the lunchroom," Grisham added.  "They need to provide assistants who can take kids to the bathroom, assistants for recess."

Larger classes also means fewer teachers.  In Memphis, 580 jobs could be lost.  The new model would only pay for 2,641 teachers.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton granted an impromptu response at a school event Saturday.

"It all depends on how many teacher's aides are you going to have, other instruction aides," said Wharton.  "Are your classrooms computer-assisted?  I will say this, I would never just rule it out."

He said class size increases would need to be done on a case-by-case basis.

"I would say, generally speaking, in many of our classrooms, I would be opposed to increasing the class size," said Wharton.

Grisham said class size is all the talk in PTA.

"Parents have to speak up, and if they don't speak up proactively, we're going to speak up reactively later, after damage has been done," said Grisham.

Senator Norris could not be reached for comment Saturday.

To read the bill, click here.

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