A recent post on our Facebook page lit up with comments from readers. We posted a Palm Beach Post article about Attorney Paul Kunz, whose child attends Addison Mizner Elementary (south of Palmetto east of I-95) sued the school district over class size issues. As we understand it, his 5-year-old child is in a kindergarten class with 21 students, 3 more than the maximum of 18 set in the Florida Constitution.
Some of the comments demonstrated a lack of understanding as to why Kunz is doing this.
For example, one commenter wrote:
Dad was looking to make a quick buck off his child. Sad!
If you read the lawsuit (bottom of this article), Kunz is not asking for any money at all. It’s possible that in a case like this he could get attorney fees but he did not even ask for them. He is very clearly not doing this for money.
Another popular sentiment is that suing is the wrong way to go about it. We contacted Kunz about this and he responded:
Filing a lawsuit is definitely the only way to get the issue addressed. Last thing I wanted to do was sue my kid’s school (district). But there is no way internally to get any relief. I wrote to superintendent twice: no response. I tried to deal with other administrators and was told: we can do it this way (basically because we say so).
If the government refuses to obey the law, there really isn’t another way to address it other than a lawsuit. If you do something the government doesn’t like, you get a ticket or arrested and they make you go to court. Why is it so shocking to sue the government? If the government can’t be sued, then they are effectively above the law.
I received similar criticism for challenging a checkpoint in Coral Gables, and I will be suing them soon. So I’m sympathetic to Kunz both in suing the government and in getting this kind of criticism.
Other commenters said larger class sizes are no big deal:
The horror. My kids up north had well over 20. The teacher handled it fine. They all learned to read and write quite well.
Another commenter responded:
This class reduction act was amended to the Florida Constitution in 2002 by getting over 2 1/2 million Floridians who voted to approve it. So, if you are against class limits, you are in the minority.
Whether class size limits are wise or effective, or perhaps too inflexible, is certainly a worthwhile discussion. We know parents who are worried that their school might add a teacher to address the class size problem and then split up classes that are going well.
We contacted the school district for comment on this story and received a very limited response:
We were just served with the lawsuit. We are in the process of reviewing the allegations.
On the larger issue of school budgets, we wonder how much could be saved if we didn’t waste so much money and time doing too many tests, buying textbooks that keep getting worse, and paying administrators who manage all of this testing and textbook waste. By saving there we could hire more teachers and pay them better.
Disclosure: The author has never met Kunz and had never even heard of him before this morning. Also, some of the commenters are personal friends of the author.
Kunz’ complaint in the case is below: