Dom Giordano’s lost touch with teaching

by Christopher Paslay


After reading Dom Giordano’s “Education’s 5 Big Lies” in the Daily News last week, it’s hard for me to believe that Giordano was ever a teacher to begin with.  In particular, his belief that class size has no impact on learning is quite puzzling. 


Giordano states in his article:  This lie says that class size is paramount in determining a child’s ability to learn.


The National Education Association, the teachers’ union, has often floated the notion that 15 students in a class is the highest effective number and having 30 is an impossible situation.


The Rand Corp. did one of the biggest studies of class size, analyzing the effects of California‘s spending $1 billion in the late ’90s to cut class size in elementary schools. They found no link between the smaller classes and improvement in test scores.


The major flaw in Giordano’s reasoning is that isolated standardized test scores are the sole means in which to measure a child’s progress in school.  There is a lot more to learning—especially at the elementary level—than reading and math scores. 


Learning is also about socialization, citizenship, conflict resolution, organizational skills, critical thinking skills, and all the other academic and behavioral competencies children need to grow into successful adults. 


To see if class size has an impact on learning, one needs only to ask two fundamental questions: 


1.  Does classroom management have an effect on learning?  It most certainly does.  Any legitimate educator who’s spent time in a classroom will tell you that you can’t teach a class that you can’t control.


2.  Does class size have an effect on classroom management?  Without a doubt.  You can manage 15 students much more effectively than 30.  There are less behavioral issues; there is a stronger teacher-to-student ratio; there is less time needed to produce and grade materials, so there is more time to plan for instruction; when it comes to resources, such as computers and money for field trips, you can accommodate 15 much easier than 30; and the list goes on and on.  These factors not only impact learning, but also the teacher-student relationship, and the closeness of the classroom environment. 


The Rand Corp. study Giordano refers to might show class size has no impact on test scores, but then again, theoretical physics can prove that an elephant can hang from a cliff with his tail tied to a daisy. 


Any educator with common sense knows that class size has an effect on learning.  Giordano’s claim otherwise is either an attempt at sensationalism or proof he’s lost touch with his former profession. 


8 thoughts on “Dom Giordano’s lost touch with teaching

  1. There is plenty of evidence to refute Giordano.
    Most interesting to Philly teachers may be this from the abstract of Edward P. Lazear’s article entitled “Educational Production.” Lazear was at Stanford University and published this in 1999.
    “To the extent class size matters it is more important for disadvantaged children. ”

    For other quickies check these.
    (Sorry can’t copy and paste from this website but lowering class size form 22 – 15 creates a 6% gain. Imagine going from 33 or 30 to 15).
    The estimates show that reducing class size induces a significant and substantial increase in test scores for fourth and fifth graders, although not for third graders.

    Bottom line: Giordano talks a lot but knows little.
    If class size makes no difference then I suggest Giordano see his doctor at the same time as 15 other patients. Double that and you have a Philadelphia teachers workload. Poor Docs, they just can’t keep up with us. 🙂

  2. Let me point out….
    1) With fewer students in a class, the frequency of direct teacher-to- student interactions increases…”Contructive nteraction”, the basis of all productive relationships.

    2) With 30+ students in a tile/cinderblock classroom, the acoustics are atrocious. The students in the back rarely hear the discourse on the front of the room and the students in the front of the room rarely hear the discourse from the back of the room…Group work? can’t hear yourself think! Attention wanes and so does learner performance.
    3)With a class of 30+ , EVERY activity takes longer to initiate and longer to complete…from hanging up coats to bathroom breaks to a math worksheet. With 30 students in a 45 min lesson, a 1 min teacher interaction with each student would use up 30 min…that leaves only 15 min for instruction…so that 45 minutes of information now takes 2-3 days to present. Revamp the curriculum, because instructional pace is significantly slowed in larger classrooms compared to smaller ones.
    Young children DO require frequent feedback and interaction or they feel invisible, disconnected and unimportant in a classroom. And that is a major cause for behavior problems…..and around and around we go.
    4) Again, Mr Giordano is just one more public figure speaking as an armchair-expert in education, all because he once sat in a classroom once upon a time. Again, just one more arrogant expectaion that teachers be ALL things to ALL students in ALL situations ALL the time…and be ALL qualified in ALL domains for ALL standards…and be grateful to be so for meager compensation.

    OH PLEESE! You don’t pay me enough to be an ALL competent messiah who walks on all turbulent educational waters! Give teachers quality work conditions and they will give you quality results. Treat teachers with professional esteem and they will professionally perform. Until then…oh well, hope you know how to swim!
    ‘Cause you’re surely gonna get wet…but hey, Mr Giordano already is dripping wet.
    How come, though practicing teachers are the ones with the educational credentials, multipaged transcripts and wealth of experience, their educational opinions are never sought, valued, sanctioned or given press time? It’s always seems to be the ones who are NOT in the classroom any longer who have soooooo much to say…and who think themselves “experts”…how come?

    A teacher of 40 yrs experience, w/a Masters degree +60 credits who completes 30+ hrs of professional development hours a year (every year) YET earns less/hour than a contracted plumber/ electrician/ auto mechanic.
    Think about it.

  3. Every time I’ve tried to talk to Dom about education he’s always pushing charters. Guess being a charter shil pays pretty good money these days. There are have been several posts on the Inky boards about a female relative of Dom’s pleading guilty to taking money from a charter she worked at. Was that woman from Philadelphia Academy Charter School? It’s hard to believe that Dom was ever a teacher with the nonsense he’s trying to push these days.

  4. Dom is a failed school teacher with a chip on his shoulder. He would never be able to operate outside his well protected city connected Phila enviorns. —- He tried when he crossed the River to NJ and failed within two years. Back to Phila he went.

      • I graduated from Triton Class of 1986 Mr. Giordano was one of my teachers. I’ m not positive but I think I remember him teaching Language Arts. He is one of the only teachers I can even remember from that horrible school.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s