Let’s put the classroom first, maybe.

Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro and several of her Republican Senate colleagues talked a good game for teachers in their news conference this morning, but…

“Protecting the classroom is our No. 1 priority,” Shapiro said, telling superintendents to cut administrators first. Her statements were echoed by others, including Sen. Dan Patrick.

Now, the “but” part.

The Legislature should cut administration before teachers and, in some school districts, there doubtlessly is administration that can be cut. But, administrative reductions notwithstanding, even the “kinder” (as opposed to the House) budget cuts being considered by the Senate would cost many teachers their jobs.

The Senate Finance subcommittee chaired by Shapiro has recommended the restoration of $6 billion to the public education budget. The panel didn’t suggest where the money should come from, but even if the $6 billion were added to the budget, the public schools still would be $3.3 billion short of meeting anticipated enrollment growth.

Also, if Shapiro and Patrick are so sure that they can largely solve the school funding problem with administrative savings, why are they both sponsoring legislation to lift the 221 class size cap for kindergarten through fourth grade?

Despite the importance of that cap to maintaining educational quality, superintendents are asking that it be repealed. Why? So they can fire more teachers, of course.

If Shapiro and Patrick care so much about the classroom, why don’t they protect 221 instead of trying to sacrifice it?

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