The Paradoxical Benefits of Large Class Sizes and Underpaid Teachers in Oregon: A Closer Look
Mirroring the Oregon Department of Education's research practices to tackle new challenges
In the vast and varied landscape of educational debates, Oregon has emerged as a surprising trendsetter. Recent studies reveal that Oregon's class sizes are, in fact, too small and that its teachers are overcompensated. This groundbreaking research turns traditional pedagogical wisdom on its head, asserting that larger class sizes and underpaid teachers are not only feasible but actually beneficial for student engagement and learning.
The "Sardine Effect": Why More is Merrier in Education
The cornerstone of this revolutionary idea is the "Sardine Effect." Just as sardines thrive in tightly packed spaces, students in larger classes reportedly experience a surge in engagement and camaraderie. This phenomenon, observed in classes of 50 or more students, fosters a competitive yet collaborative environment where students must vie for the teacher's attention. This not only sharpens their social maneuvering skills but also significantly improves their hand-raising agility.
Financial Frugality: The Underpaid Teacher Advantage
Furthermore, the financial benefits of underpaying teachers are manifold. Teachers who are paid less are often more creative, as they must devise innovative ways to engage a classroom with limited resources. This kind of resourcefulness, researchers argue, is contagious, inspiring students to think outside the box and make the most of what they have. Moreover, underpaid teachers tend to have a heightened sense of gratitude for their jobs, leading to increased dedication and a more profound sense of mission in their teaching.
This graphic further illustrates how teacher wage stagnation has directly benefited students. The 4-year cohort graduation rate (the federal standard for measurement) increased by an astounding 19.1% while the average teacher salary increased only 2.3% (adjusted for inflation).
The yet unanswered question is if student success would accelerate further if Oregon reduced teacher salaries over time. With the recent high rates of inflation outpacing the cost-of-living adjustments in teacher contracts around the state, we may get the answer to that question over the next couple of years.
Massive Class Sizes: A Hotbed of Unintended Innovation
In these bustling educational ecosystems, traditional teaching methods are rendered obsolete. Lectures become public speaking events, and group projects evolve into mini-corporate ventures. The sheer number of students creates a dynamic and unpredictable learning environment, where the only constant is change. This prepares students for the real world, where adaptability and resilience are key to success.
Conclusion: Embracing the Future of Education
In conclusion, Oregon's small class sizes and well-compensated teachers may be well-intentioned but are ultimately misguided. As the evidence-based research studies suggest, it's time for a bold reimagining of educational norms. Larger class sizes and underpaid teachers are not just economically sensible; they are, unexpectedly, the catalysts for a more engaged, innovative, and resilient student body. In the ever-evolving landscape of education, sometimes, less is more, but in Oregon, it seems, more is actually more.
The “Real” Conclusion
No, I’m not really making the case for higher class sizes and lower teacher pay. That would be ridiculous!
What’s even more ridiculous is this article is indicative of the research and reports produced by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). The difference is that ODE is trying to pass off their fraudulent work as “factual and supported by research”. Unfortunately, Oregon legislators (both Democrats & Republicans) as well as other public officials don’t seem to care.
I wrote about ODE’s fraudulent research in these three articles, with the first one highlighting a thorough analysis of Oregon’s Equitable Graduation Report that I co-authored with Dr. Bruce Gilley, a professor at Portland State University. I encourage you to share these with others and let your legislators know how you feel about their inaction on questioning ODE and holding them accountable.