OA Overpopulation

Lavanya Shyamsundar, Staff Writer

In 2020, Oxford Academy decided to accept 32 additional students outside the Anaheim Unified High School District (AUHSD), raising the annually admitted class size from 200 to 232 students. Pre-2020, the school only had 1200 students, but due to increasing class sizes, this figure has multiplied, with 1292 pupils today.

To accommodate nearly 100 new pupils, students and staff are shoved into insufficient spaces, ultimately plunging OA’s quality of education. To remedy this issue, Oxford needs to stop admitting extra students.

With larger classes, students are packed in Oxford’s small campus. Buildings like the MPR and the library were converted into classrooms, but they are unsuitable: the library’s layout makes engaging in lessons difficult, and the MPR gets extremely noisy, especially near lunchtime.

Fewer classrooms force more teachers to share rooms. Instructors like ethnic studies teacher Ms. Ho — who shares classrooms with five other teachers — must modify lesson plans based on available resources. Varying classroom layouts make facilitating group activities and storing physical projects challenging. Without a sense of permanency, teachers end up feeling disconnected from Oxford’s campus.

“[A classroom] is your teaching home,” Ms. Ho said. “[Having my own room] would make [teaching] more personal. The classroom walls would reflect me. When students walk into a classroom, [they] can see how the classroom is set up and can get a sense for what teacher [they] have.”

Even for teachers with permanent classrooms, increased class sizes make it difficult to gauge understanding. With 35 to 40 students in each class, there are minimal opportunities for students to connect with teachers. According to The National Council of Teachers of English, smaller classes perform better on assessments and are one to two months ahead of larger classes in coursework. Highly populated classes are subject to passive learning, less retention, and disruptive behavior.

Oxford’s solution to support Oxford’s growing classes is to hire more staff and install portables. Having more instructors genuinely helps mitigate issues with passive learning, and with increased student enrollment, the school receives more funds spent on improving student learning. Hypothetically, there’s no need to decrease class sizes, as the influx of students brings in the funds needed to accommodate them.

However, the problem is that Oxford Academy was designed to host a small population; thus, limited resources are available. Necessities like ample lunch lines, copies of reading material, and even classroom chairs are not always available due to the sheer volume of students. Even with more funds, classroom sharing may multiply, as there is limited space and affordable resources. Though increasing admissions opens up better education to students out of the district, the school doesn’t have the capacity to support so many people.

Oxford dedicates itself to providing quality education for its students, but quality does not equal quantity — especially not when there aren’t enough resources to support all students. The school needs to admit fewer students to uphold its commitment to educating college-bound students.