Why have almost all states, including Tennessee and Vermont, been growing budgets in pursuit of shrinking classes?
Vermont has long had maximum class size regulations; historically, until recently, they called for 21 or fewer in grades K and 1, 23 or fewer in 2 and 3. No minimum, no recommendation, no average class size policy. Recently the Vermontrules were changed: 20 or fewer in K-3, 25 or fewer in 4-8. Tennessee also has a maximum class size regulation: K-3, 25; 4-6, 30; 7-12, 35. Unlike Vermont, Tennessee has a recommended Average Class Size: K-3, 20; 4-6, 25; 7-12, 30. In both states, the actual averages are well under the maxima (there's that "'small classes are better" doctrine at work, statistical evidence to the contrary notwithstanding) and in Tennessee they're also well under the official recommendation. So my earlier question changes from "why do both states pursue an expensive but ineffective reduced-class-size policy? The stats show that both states have maximum which they typically undercut (substantially). And we know the answer: their educrats still claim, disregarding 40 years of contrary hard-numbers evidence, that smaller class sizes are "worth it", achievement-wise. The new question is "Why is Tennessee's actual class size well under its own recommended minimum?"
At first inspection, the Tennessee average class size page in the Education Regulations (page 3 in the "Minimum Requirements for the Approval of Public Schools") seems to have the force of law; it's printed complete with legal reference to Tennessee Code Annotated 49-1-302 and 49-6-3004.
When you read the text, the critical sentence says, "Local Boards of Education shall have policies providing for class sizes in grades K-12 in accordance with the following.." and then the numbers reported above. How could local Boards flout specific state statute and regulation?
But then, the epiphany-moment came. It had been illustrated earlier in the linguistic skill previously demonstrated by another high-I.Q. political figure, a subsequently-temporarily-disbarred member of the legal profession, who used conjugational (pun intended) analysis to explain that "it all depends on the meaning of the verb 'is'.".