A new bill making class size a mandatory part of collective bargaining could create a financial and logistical nightmare for school districts. OSBA legislative staff are actively advocating against the bill, which is supported by the Oregon Education Association, and seek member support and testimony toward the bill’s defeat.
Currently class size is a “permissive” subject, meaning districts and teacher representatives are able to discuss it. House Bill 4113 would revise the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act to make it a “mandatory” subject, meaning districts would have to address union demands for maximum class sizes or teachers could strike over the issue.
A similar bill was defeated in 2017, and already several Oregon newspapers have come out with editorials against the new bill and news coverage about it.
If contracts contained maximum class-size language, districts would be forced to either hire more teachers they cannot afford or likely pay teachers some sort of bonus for teaching more than the contract limit. School districts will potentially have to cut other programs to pay soaring salary costs with little to no reduction in class sizes or improvement in students’ education.
The median class size for Oregon is 25 students. The limited research available suggests that to make a significant difference in student achievement, class sizes would have to fall to at most 18 students.
To lower median class sizes statewide by just three students would require about 2,600 additional teachers and cost $575.6 million for the 2019-21 biennium, the Oregon Department of Education calculates. The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization, said analysis of education investments showed that class-size reduction was among the least cost-effective strategies for educational improvement.
For more information, please contact Legislative Services Specialist Richard Donovan.