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For the third time in as many years, Oregon lawmakers will be asked to require school districts around the state to negotiate class size with their teachers. In addition, this year’s bill — House Bill 4094, sponsored by state Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, and Brian Clem, D-Salem — would also make caseload limits a required bargaining subject.

Lawmakers so far have given the first proposal a wide berth, and they should do so again this year. There are two main problems with it, one of which also applies to the caseloads proposal.

It’s true there is evidence that smaller classes in the early grades produce better educated students. Unfortunately, the research is far from conclusive. But it does make sense.

Then there’s this: School districts in Oregon start each year with a specific amount of money, and they have only limited ability to raise more. A requirement that class size be reduced could force a tradeoff in curriculum or some other aspect of education that’s equally important. A bargained reduction in caseloads could lead to the same result.

Oregonians want the best for their children, no doubt. They also know that the state’s resources are limited. This bill might mean smaller classes, but the cost may be higher than supporters of the measure acknowledge.

— The (Bend) Bulletin

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