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June 6, 2018
Can lowering class size help integrate schools? Maybe, according to new research
A recent study suggests a concrete way that schools can attract and keep white families, while also boosting student achievement: lower class sizes.
Counting Class Size
October 19, 2015
Nearly 1,000 fewer classes are overcrowded this year, according to union survey
An annual union survey found that 5,485 classes were overcrowded at the start of the school year, down from 6,447 last year.
June 27, 2014
Released earlier than usual, Blue Book now counts students in trailers
The city Department of Education released its annual school-space tally on Friday, months earlier than usual and featuring some changes recommended by an advisory…
June 6, 2014
Report: City’s budget plan doesn’t do enough to end school overcrowding
The city’s budget plan will not solve the problem of school overcrowding, a new report argues, despite the mayor’s pledge to devote new resources toward…
May 9, 2013
Not the biggest news out of Cleveland this week
The Cleveland Teachers Union has tentatively okayed a contract deal with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District that includes performance pay and an end to classes…
December 14, 2012
Latest data from city show a continued increase in class sizes
Across the city, classes this year are larger, on average, than they were last year, according to data the Department of Education released today. The new data, released this afternoon to meet an annual reporting deadline set by the City Council, show that class sizes have increased citywide for the sixth year in a row, with the largest increases coming in high schools. Overall, class sizes jumped by an average of 1.6 percent this year. Classes in elementary schools now average 24.5 students; middle schools average 27.3 students per class; and high schools have 26.9 students on average in each class. In September, a tally by the teachers union found that 670 schools — more than ever — had classes over their contractual size limits, which are higher than the citywide class size averages.
September 25, 2012
UFT: City's special education reforms causing class size crunch
UFT President Michael Mulgrew, flanked by NYC Museum School teachers and Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, discussed this year's tally of oversized classes during a press conference this morning. One in four city schools have overcrowded classes, and the number of oversized special education classes more than doubled since last year, according to this year's class size tally by the United Federation of Teachers. Union members reported 270 special education classes with more than the mandated number of students in the early weeks of the year, up from 118 last year. During a press conference outside a Chelsea school building, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the city's special education reforms, which are meant to move more students with disabilities into general education classes, were "clearly and solidly behind" the too-large special education classes. "We've never seen numbers like this before," Mulgrew said about the oversized special education classes. "Principals are telling us they are being mandated to do things they cannot do, and this is going to be a big problem." The union's contract with the city sets class size limits in each grade. When classes exceed the limit, the union can file grievances against the city to get the classes reduced in size — a process that can take months, Mulgrew said. This year, the union identified 6,220 classes over their contractual limits in 670 schools during the first weeks of the year. While the number of oversized classes was actually down 11 percent from last year's recent high of 6,978, the number of schools with oversized classes grew slightly, and the union estimates that nearly a quarter of all city students are spending all or part of the day in overcrowded classes for the second straight year.
January 10, 2012
Class size jump poses new challenge for a successful school
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and P.S. 130 Principal Lily Woo look on as one kindergarten teacher and her student read from a class assignment. Even at an elementary school with high scores, experienced teachers, and years of A's on the city's progress reports, budget cuts are taking a toll. At Chinatown's P.S. 130, average class size has ballooned from between 25 and 28 students per classroom last year to 32, the maximum allowed. Because the school lost about $1 million from its budget in the last two years, it had to cut teaching positions and reading teachers, according to longtime Principal Lily Woo. As Chancellor Dennis Walcott looked on today, second-grade teacher Danielle Cannistraci gathered her 31 students on the rug around the front of the classroom in a circle two rows deep for a lesson about shapes. When she asked the students to name a three-dimensional shape with no round edges, half a dozen hands shot in the air with the answer (in this case, a pyramid). Cannistraci, who has worked at P.S. 130 for 11 years, said the lesson exemplified her efforts to make her teaching more engaging. But with 31 students this year, up from 27, she said she is struggling to give each student individual attention and manage the time students spend doing group work. "I've always put them in groups, but now I have a whole extra group — it's become much harder," she said. "Normally I have five groups for reading, writing, and math. But if I have six guided-reading groups I can't focus on one in each day anymore because that means one group isn't going to be seen at all."
December 2, 2011
Bloomberg's class size comments more strident but in character
If Mayor Bloomberg had his druthers, he would fire half the city's teachers and pay the remaining half more to supervise twice-as-large classes. That's what he said during a wide-ranging speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Tuesday in which he argued that weak training, social change, and the teachers union have conspired to fill New York City's schools with less-than-ideal teachers. "If I had the ability, which nobody does really, to just design the system and say, ex cathedra, this is what we're going to do, you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them, and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers, and double class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students," Bloomberg said. Listen to the portion of the speech where Bloomberg talks schools (starting at about 5:00): 11-29-11 MIT Speech - Part 2 The comments have drawn fire from UFT President Michael Mulgrew, elected officials, and many others. But while they were provocative and unusually specific, the speech tread familiar territory for the mayor.
November 15, 2011
DOE's newest class size data confirms increases across city
Chart showing trends in K-3 class size. From Class Size Matters PowerPoint presentation. (Click to enlarge.) Preliminary class size data that the city released today confirms what the teachers union has tallied: Class sizes are on the rise. Classes grew most this year in kindergarten through third grade, where the average size increased by just under one student since last year to 23.1. On average, classes in those grades are now three students larger than they were in the 2006-2007 school year. They are largest in Queens and Staten Island and smallest in Manhattan. Classes in those grades are now the largest they have been since 1998, according to a PowerPoint presentation prepared by parent activist Leonie Haimson for Class Size Matters, a group that she runs to advocate for smaller classes. Class sizes have also inched up in upper elementary, middle, and high school grades, but not by as much, according to the city's new numbers. In all grades, average class sizes exceed the goals set forth in the 2007 Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit settlement, which required the state to earmark extra funds for New York City schools to use for six different purposes, including reducing class size.
September 22, 2011
UFT: Budget cuts lead to more oversized classes this year
John Elfrank-Dana, UFT chapter leader at Murry Bergtraum High School, says his history classes have as many as 37 students. After three years of budget cuts, the city's schools started the year with more oversize classes than at any time in the last decade, according to data collected by the United Federation of Teachers. Union members reported that on the sixth day of the school year, nearly 7,000 classes had more students than the teachers contract allows, mostly in high schools and a large number in Queens. That was almost a thousand more oversize classes than they reported at the same time last year. The union will soon file a grievance against the contract violations, and many of the classes will shrink as schools shuffle students around in the coming weeks, as typically happens at the beginning of the school year. But union officials said it appears that for the fifth year in a row, average class sizes have inched up again. "Our worst fears have now been confirmed," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew at a press conference announcing the numbers today. He urged Mayor Bloomberg to protect the city schools from additional budget cuts in the coming year. Now, nearly a quarter of all city students are spending all or part of the day in overcrowded classes, according to the UFT. The contract limits classes to 25 students in kindergarten; 32 students in elementary school; 33 students in middle schools and 30 students in middle schools with many poor students; and 34 students in high schools.
September 6, 2011
In annual appeal, union urges vigilance against large classes
The United Federation of Teachers is gearing up for its annual struggle to wrangle classes down to their contractual size limits. As schools work to pinch every cent out of their compressed budgets, there are few safeguards in place to ward off swelling class sizes, and the UFT is asking members to be especially vigilant this year. In the Sept. 1 Chapter Leader Weekly Update, the union urged its school representatives to monitor class size closely from the first day of classes so that after an "informal resolution" period ends on Sept. 21, the union can begin filing grievances. One element of the UFT's bid to challenge the city's class-size efforts is in legal limbo. In 2010, the union sued the city over its spending of class size reduction funds, charging that the Department of Education had used the funds for other purposes. But this summer, an appeals court threw out the suit, ruling that the issue should be handled by the State Education Department. Dick Riley, a UFT spokesman, said the union was still weighing how to proceed. But he said that putting pressure on the DOE early has traditionally paid off for the union, with schools rectifying many class size violations as the chaos of the first days of class wears away. “In practice the DOE, particularly in high schools, often exceeds these limits at the beginning of the school year, but under pressure from the UFT, generally brings them down to the contractual limit, though it can take weeks for some schools to do so,” Riley said.
July 28, 2011
Court dismisses union's effort to force city to lower class sizes
The city teachers union will have to go to the State Education Department to protest rising class sizes in New York City, rather than skip straight to the courts, after an appeals court today dismissed a 2010 suit by the union. The suit aimed at forcing New York City to dedicate a certain pot of state funds toward making class sizes smaller. The union charged that the city misused the funds, sending them to offset budget cuts rather than using them as they were intended — as a means of reducing class sizes. The NAACP also signed onto the suit. But in a decision handed down today, an appeals court unanimously dismissed the union's suit, saying that the union must take its complaints to the State Education Department before going to court. (Read the full decision below.) The union president, Michael Mulgrew, vowed to continue protesting rising class sizes. "Lowering class size is a key issue for the parents and teachers of New York City and we intend to pursue it vigorously," Mulgrew said in a statement this afternoon. The appeals court did not address the heart of the disagreement: whether the city actually did, as the union charges, improperly fail to lower class sizes — and use Contracts for Excellence funds instead to stave off budget cuts. At issue is the state Contracts for Excellence funding stream, and in particular, a specific clause forcing New York City to write a plan to reduce class sizes. What's not disputed is that class sizes have creeped up for the last two years even as funds aimed at bringing them down have flooded into schools. Class sizes for the coming school year aren't yet available, but all signs point to likely increases, which principals are preparing for. It's not clear, however, that the Department of Education deliberately sought to prevent schools from lowering class sizes by sending funds elsewhere.
July 21, 2011
As budget deadline nears, strapped school lobbies on class size
As they wait to hear the results of their principal's budget appeal, parents and teachers at Manhattan's PS 3 are sounding the alarm over rising class sizes. Tomorrow is the deadline for principals to tell the city how they plan to spend their budgets. With schools experiencing average cuts of 2.43 percent, they are likely to see class sizes grow as teaching vacancies go unfilled. In April, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said that 4,000 planned layoffs would cause average class sizes to rise by about 1.5 students. But the School Leadership Team at PS 3 says the elementary school has been warned that, even now that layoffs have been averted, classes could grow to as large as 30 students in the fall. Last week, we reported that PS 3's principal, Lisa Siegman, has filed an official appeal of her budget, saying, “I couldn’t staff the school for the classrooms" with the $5.4 million allocated to the school. Yesterday, the SLT sent a letter to Walcott — and a host of other public officials — imploring him not to let class sizes skyrocket. "Even excellent teachers have limits to their energy, time, patience, and ability to solve the infinite array of problems that facilitating learning involves," the letter reads. "At PS 3, we have seen firsthand how increase in class size can negatively impact teachers’ energy and students’ ability to learn." The full letter is below.
March 23, 2011
Teachers union report links layoffs to a spike in class size
Class sizes across the city could increase by an average of 13 percent next year if the city decides to cut more than 6,000 teaching positions, according to a report the teachers union released today. The United Federation of Teachers' report doesn't consider whether the city will lay off teachers by seniority — as is currently mandated by law. Nor does it factor in Mayor Bloomberg's desire to lay off teachers based on how their principals have rated them, or how many unexcused absences they've accumulated, among other factors. Instead, it takes a blunt measurement of what the loss of over 6,000 bodies in classrooms could do to class sizes across the city and in certain districts. The calculations don't appear to take into account many of the complicated details behind how schools distribute their teachers. Often, schools will keep class sizes low for younger students, then increase them for older ones. Schools that separate their advanced students from those who are struggling are also likely to keep class sizes high for the former and low for the latter.
June 16, 2010
Saved from closure, a Queens high school faces phase-out
When a judge ruled in favor of keeping open 19 schools that the city had targeted for closure, it appeared that the teachers union had won its case. But for at least one of the schools, under-enrollment could spell closure anyway. Jamaica High School in Queens is currently looking at an incoming class of 23 ninth grade students, according to minutes taken during a meeting between the school's principal and union chapter leader. If more students don't enroll, the high school will not be able to offer a ninth grade next year, which is what would have happened under the city's original plan to phase out the school. A portion of the minutes reads: Mr. Acham said that our expected number of students for the fall would be between 850 and 900 pupils and not close to 1400 that we currently are enrolling. He added that the number of incoming grade nine students who have made a full commitment to Jamaica High School for this fall was only 23 and this number was down from a potential incoming class of merely 60. Therefore, the Principal concluded that we do not have a sufficient number of freshmen to run our programs. A spokesman for the Department of Education, Danny Kanner, said Jamaica's enrollment numbers would likely go up, but would not offer an explanation of how this would happen or how many students had been matched with the school's ninth grade next year.
January 5, 2010
After years of complaints, union sues city over class size dollars
UFT President Michael Mulgrew announces the union's lawsuit. Behind Mulgrew are, from left to right, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, NAACP NY President Hazel Dukes, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Yolanda Morales, a plaintiff in the suit. The city teachers union, along with a coalition of parents and advocacy groups, sued the Department of Education this morning, charging it with not spending allocated state money on reducing class sizes. Since 2007, the state has allocated nearly $761 million for class size reduction, yet class sizes in schools across the city have risen over the past two years. The lawsuit accuses the DOE of causing the class size increase by willfully misusing those funds. "As far as we are concerned, this is deliberate," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a press conference at union headquarters this morning. "New York City how has the highest class sizes in New York State," Mulgrew said. "$760 million, for what?" The lawsuit, filed this morning in the State Supreme Court in the Bronx, was brought by a coalition of parents, activist groups, the UFT, the New York chapter of the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation. “The charges are without merit," DOE Press Secretary David Cantor said.
November 18, 2009
Council members and DOE at odds over class size data release
Days after the deadline for the city's Department of Education to send class size data to the City Council, the department is giving itself a new deadline for the numbers' release. A spokesman for the DOE, Will Havemann, said department officials met with staff members of the City Council's Education Committee this morning and showed them preliminary class size numbers. When the meeting ended, department officials took the data back with them. "The numbers were shown to the Council this morning but not given to them," Havemann said, adding that the department plans to release final numbers to the Council on November 23. City Council spokesman Anthony Hogrebe said giving council members a brief look at a small amount of data did not qualify as meeting the department's legal obligation to release class size information.
September 18, 2009
All out of desks, a Queens high school buys folding chairs
The Academy of American Studies in Long Island City bought folding chairs to manage overcrowding. There are no extra desks at a Queens high school where overcrowding has prompted the principal to buy folding chairs to accommodate students. The Academy of American Studies, a selective high school in Long Island City, shares space with Newcomers High School, and leases a small building across the street. "It looks like a deli," said Mir Niaz, a tenth grade student at the Academy. Niaz said last year's incoming freshman class had 110 students, but this year's class has 180, and the sudden increase has overwhelmed the already-cramped space the school has to work with. Now, some students have to sit in folding chairs, which they pull up next to their luckier classmates who have desks and share writing space. "We got more freshmen than we expected this year," said the school's parent coordinator, Jean Mendler. "It's a temporary solution."
September 9, 2009
Thompson says DOE spent class size reduction money elsewhere
Comptroller Bill Thompson chose the first day of school to stoke long burning disputes over whether the Bloomberg administration has reduced class sizes as much as it promised to. Thompson accused the Department of Education of redirecting or misspending millions of dollars that he says the department promised to use to reduce class sizes. The audit, which is based on data collected in 2008, states that $48 million of the nearly $180 million set aside for Early Grade Class Size Reduction funding was not used to create new classrooms. Thompson, a mayoral hopeful, said the DOE has been living in a "childish neverland." "To use this money for other things [than class size reduction] is to defeat the purpose," he said. Class sizes have risen in the last year despite several programs — either foisted upon the administration or willingly adopted — that aimed to reduce them. The administration has repeatedly portrayed class size as too costly a reform to be realistic. In May, Chancellor Joel Klein warned that average class sizes would increase this year as the size of the teaching force declines. The dispute centers around whether or not the city committed a set amount of money to be used to reduce class sizes for grades K-3.
May 27, 2009
Klein: Class sizes will rise next year, even with special funds
The city should be prepared to see the average class size continue to increase this fall, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein told members of the City Council today. During a hearing this morning about the Department of Education's proposed budget, finance committee chair David Weprin asked Klein what might happen to class sizes next year, when school budgets are cut by more than 5 percent, especially given that schools used $84 million to reduce class sizes this year yet the average class size went up for the first time in several years. "I think they will increase, not dramatically," Klein said, explaining that the expected decline in the size of the teaching force through attrition would likely cause class sizes to inch up. Education committee chair Robert Jackson asked Klein how watchdogs can make sure that state class size reduction money is being spent on its intended purpose if class sizes continue to increase.
May 6, 2009
Elected officials target early childhood programs for rescue
Hundreds of parents, children, and day care workers protested proposed cuts to early childhood programs today at City Hall. (GothamSchools' Flickr) With the deadline for next year's city budget looming, elected officials are eyeing early-childhood centers slated to be cut under Mayor Bloomberg's proposed budget as a key reduction to reverse. More than a dozen officials, including two mayoral candidates and three out of five borough presidents, decried the possible cuts today at a City Hall rally alongside hundreds of parents and workers associated with the centers. The proposal would cut the budgets of early-childhood programs and replace kindergarten programs currently operated outside of the school system with Department of Education kindergarten classes. The city says that moving the kindergartens is necessary in order to save the Administration for Children's Services $15 million. But parents today said that the current programs cover the burden of child-care in a way that schools, which end at 3 p.m. and are shuttered on holidays, cannot. The programs at risk of being shut are operated out of ACS, the city's social services arm for children, as part of larger daycare operations. Head Start, the early childhood program, is also slated to see its budget slashed by 3 percent. Desiree Jean-Mary said she is upset that her son, Joshua, who attends a Head Start program in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, might not be able to continue there next year when he enters kindergarten. Right now, Jean-Mary, who has two other children, picks Joshua up at 5 p.m. after her job as a home health aide is over for the day. “It would be really hard if I had to find somewhere else for him to go — I don’t want that,” she said.
May 6, 2009
Why the class-size-reduction money failed to reduce class sizes
The chart plots a dot for every school that received state money to create new classrooms. The dot represents the amount of money the school received, and the amount that the school's average class size changed. (Data via the Department of Education) We've already reported that average class sizes citywide did not decline last year, despite an infusion of money meant to reduce them. New data suggest the same relationship happens at the school level: Even schools that reported spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on class-size reduction efforts, such as creating new classrooms, did not necessarily see a drop in average class sizes. Rather, while some schools that reported investing in new classrooms did end up reducing class sizes on average, others actually saw their average class size go up. The data, provided by the Department of Education following a tug-of-war that you might recall, are summarized in the graph above and in a searchable file available here. The major challenge, according to the schools official who compiled the data, Tania Shinkawa, is not that principals didn't spend the money as they were supposed to, but that even that pot of money didn't guarantee that they could lower class sizes across the board. Take Bronx elementary school PS 57, which reported that it spent $190,000 to open new classes. Let's be generous and say that the money could pay for three additional teachers. That could go a long way toward reducing class sizes in three grade levels. But would it necessarily lower the entire school's average class size? No.
March 13, 2009
DOE: Lowering class size by 10% would cost "tens of billions"
Lowering class size by just a fraction of the degree sought by class-size reduction…
February 23, 2009
Friendly Dept of Education staffer helps me analyze class size
Tania Shinkawa at her desk in the bull pen at the Department of Education's Office of Portfolio Development. Last week I grumbled about a…
February 19, 2009
The Dept of Ed is making it hard to understand the class size jump
Class sizes on average jumped at nearly every grade level this year compared to last year. By now we all get it, I think, that class sizes really are up since last year. I entered today with high hopes of being able to attack one of the big questions this raises: How could that have happened, considering the state poured $150 million into the school system this year for the sole purpose of making class sizes go down? Unfortunately, it turns out there's one big obstacle to answering this question. The DOE did release figures on both how much each school pledged to spend on class-size reduction and how big their classes ultimately were. But it did not release any means at all of comparing this year's class sizes to last year's. Even referring to data released last year does not help, because the two years' information is organized in ways that are not at all comparable. Take the Bronx School of Science Inquiry and Investigation, a middle school that pledged to spend $473,000 this year on lowering class sizes. I can find a good figure for this year, the average class size for all the school's general education students, which is 26.3. But I can't find anything close to comparable for last year. The only way to get a comparable figure would be to do arithmetic involving grade-by-grade class size averages and enrollment figures.
February 17, 2009
Updated data show class sizes are up, especially in early grades
Class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios went up this year, especially in the elementary school grades, according to data the Department of Education released today.
February 11, 2009
Raising class sizes by two would save $187 million a year: report
A new report says raising class sizes by two students per class would save the city $187 million a year. (Via Flickr Creative Commons.) Raising class sizes by two students per room and making a slew of paid parent coordinators part-time employees are among a slate of options the Independent Budget Office is recommending to City Hall for how to plug the city's projected $4 billion budget gap. The IBO list, which went out in a report released this morning, includes 70 ways to cut costs or raise revenue and puts a dollar tag on each option. The city would save $187 million annually by reducing class sizes by two students on average, a change that would require the city to eliminate 2,100 teacher positions, according to the report. Moving parent coordinators who work at schools with fewer than 500 students to part-time status would save $14.9 million, the report says. The report does not recommend following the options one way or another, instead laying out arguments for and against each one. Those in favor of increasing class sizes, the report says, would argue that research on the costs of marginally larger classes is inconclusive, while opponents would cite research on the benefits of lower class sizes in early grades and the potential risk of driving qualified teachers out of the system.
December 15, 2008
Despite spending infusion, city is not meeting class size targets
In the battle over whether to make class sizes smaller, the city appears to be scoring a win against the state. That's the picture painted in a report school officials sent to the City Council Friday. The report shows that, two years after the state poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the city with the aim of lowering class sizes, public school classes are on average larger than the target values in most grades. (View all recent class size data reported by the city here.) The figures are a relative win for the Department of Education, which has repeatedly dismissed the goal of reducing class sizes as a pipe dream that will not improve education.
December 8, 2008
Remainders: Darling-Hammond says wait 'til next week, and more
Malcolm Gladwell considers teacher quality in this week’s New Yorker. Hendrik Hertzberg endorses class size reduction. Diane Ravitch asks how to expand…
December 2, 2008
Live-blogging the City Council capital plan hearing, sort of
I spent the afternoon at the City Council's hearing on the School Construction Authority's proposed capital plan, and I tried to post updates as they happened. Unfortunately, the wireless at City Hall wasn't cooperating, so here are some highlights of the hearing, just a few hours after it ended. 1:20 p.m. Education Committee chair Robert Jackson led off right away with the elephant in the room: the economy. He said the city is facing "very difficult economic times" and noted that the mayor has requested that all city agencies reduce their capital requests by 20 percent. Economic conditions didn't stop Jackson from saying that the council wants to "take [the SCA] to task for unresolved problems and exaggerated claims." In particular, he pointed to the authority's claim that the current capital plan is the largest in the city's history, noting that many more seats were created in the early years of the 20th century. Jackson also noted the Campaign for a Better Capital Plan's finding that more school seats were added in the last six years of the Giuliani administration than in the first six year's of Bloomberg's. 1:30 p.m. Kathleen Grimm, the DOE's deputy chancellor for administration, drew some laughter when she read from her prepared testimony about the DOE's recent "capital accomplishments" the departments's oft-repeated claim that the current capital plan, which runs through the end of June 2009, is the largest in its history. She said in the future she'll be specifying that it's the largest plan in SCA's history, not the DOE's. The state created SCA in 1988. 1:45 p.m. SCA head Sharon Greenberger walked council members through a Power Point presentation about the proposed capital plan. She noted that the SCA did incorporate a plan for class size reduction into its calculations — but the reduction was to 28 students in grades 4-8 and 30 in high school, not 23 as the state Contracts for Excellence requires for those grades.
November 24, 2008
Rise & Shine: Monday, 11/24
IN NEW YORK: Schools graded D’s and F’s are more likely to have large black and Latino populations. (Daily News) To stop cheating, Stuyvesant…
November 12, 2008
Teacher to TV hosts: Unions aren’t the problem
Longtime Bronx middle school English teacher Ms. Malarkey caught the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” criticizing teachers unions yesterday, and she took them…
November 10, 2008
New York City a straggler in getting state's spending approval
New York State Education Building New York City is one of just three cities that has not yet gotten approval for its plan for…
October 29, 2008
Bloomberg created fewer school seats than Giuliani, report says
In the opening salvo of what's sure to be a pitched battle over the next capital plan, activists today released a report (pdf) concluding that the city added fewer school seats during the first six years of the Bloomberg administration than it did during the six years immediately before. They estimate that the system needs 167,000 extra seats and dramatically accelerated school construction in order to ease crowding and reduce class sizes. The capital plan is a budget outlining all public school construction plans for the next five years. The current plan covered five years and will end in 2009. The School Construction Authority is due to present a first draft of the next capital plan, covering the years 2010 to 2014, in just a few weeks. In the report, released by the Campaign for a Better Capital Plan and written primarily by Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, backers of the campaign call for "a transparent, thorough, and open system of planning" that reflects the system's real space needs.
October 10, 2008
TEP Charter model sparks debate among educators
Posts about The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School — that's the one where teachers will make $125,000 — brought out strong feelings from educators and advocates both at the New York Times Lesson Plans blog and here at GothamSchools. In our comments, Leonie Haimson, a leading advocate for smaller classes in the city's public schools, points out that TEP will save money partly by putting 30 students in a class (the TEP website does say this, although not in the section aimed at educators). She points to comments at the Times where teachers question the priorities of the TEP model. Alex, for example, suggests cutting the salary to $75,000 and drastically reducing class size with the extra funds. GothamSchools commenter Maria Escalan worries that dividing up administrative responsibilities among teachers will end up overburdening them: Our principal who kept experimenting with different reforms on our already successful school had the brillant idea of letting teachers assume lots more responsibility outside of the normal teaching activities. The consequence was that a lot of my colleagues expended a lot of time and energy on activities that were not instructional and the quality of their teaching suffered. I think it's worth noting that the TEP plan is to give each teacher a single clearly-defined "whole school service" role, ranging from dean of discipline to events coordinator to parent and community involvement coordinator. It's not just asking people to step up as needed, which, in my experience, usually results in a few teachers taking on way too much. And, contrary to the belief of at least one Times commenter, custodial duties are not among the listed whole school service jobs. In exchange for the higher salaries, TEP expects teachers to work a longer day,
October 6, 2008
Lawmakers: Overcrowding, class size to decide fate of mayoral control
Could the capital plan be a deciding factor for State Assembly members when they cast their votes on mayoral control next year? At the…
July 31, 2008
Concerns, criticisms dominate at Contracts for Excellence public hearing
Photo by p_a_h Elected officials, teachers, and parents offered up a litany of concerns about the DOE's proposed Contracts for Excellence — regarding both their content and the process by which they were developed — last night at the final public hearing in Manhattan. The hearing, chaired by Terence Tolbert, executive director of the DOE's Department of Intergovernmental Affairs (and soon to direct Obama's Nevada campaign), was well-attended by representatives from numerous organizations, including ACORN, Class Size Matters, the Coalition for Educational Justice, the Alliance for Quality Education, the City Council, school level PTAs, the UFT, and others. Legally, Contracts for Excellence funding must "supplement, not supplant" existing spending; several speakers expressed concerns that the money will be spent to close holes in the budget rather than create or expand programs. Others worried that the new funding would be used to make up losses due to budget cuts in low-performing schools, rather than expanding services for high-needs children in those schools. Complicating these issues, several speakers noted, the plan includes little oversight of whether principals spend the Contracts for Excellence money as intended.
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