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November 5, 2018
Colorado teachers want smaller class sizes, union survey finds
Some studies have found a strong relationship between smaller class sizes and better student performance.
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.
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