Parents and grandparents of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District know that smaller classroom sizes would mean more attention to the social and academic needs of the children they love. But in elementary, middle and high schools across the district, class sizes have not met state or regional goals for more than 25 years.
In the current contract between L.A. Unified and United Teachers Los Angeles, there is a chart that establishes maximum class sizes. At most grade levels, the maximum hovers at around 36 students. But in the 1990s, during a period of deep recession, teachers agreed to Section 1.5 of their contract, which allows the district to ignore these maximums.
Although teachers negotiated a rule in 2014 that requires the district to give the union a “notice of intent” to use Section 1.5, write a rationale for ignoring class-size requirements and give teachers an opportunity to dissent from the rationale provided, L.A. Unified can and does still unilaterally implement whatever class size it chooses.
Today, classes of 45 students or more are not uncommon in most secondary schools. (This excludes kindergarten through third-grade classes, which receive state funding specifically for class-size reduction.)