Archives for category: Class Size Matters Org

Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, is one of the nation’s most persistent advocates of class size reduction. She is the voice of many parents in New York City, who regularly tell pollsters that their number 1 wish for their children is smaller classes. Now that the city’s public schools anticipate a new infusion of funds, Haimson and many parents are pressing to get a commitment from the city to reduce class sizes.

She writes in The Nation:

New York City public schools are often as crushed as the subway during rush hour, with literally thousands of students forced to learn in overstuffed classrooms—sitting side by side, elbows knocking into each other, or sometimes leaning against the wall or resting on a radiator. Even in the age of Covid-19, hallways are so jam-packed it can be hard for students to get to their next class.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way—and, if the city’s mayor and the City Council speaker would pass a crucial piece of legislation limiting class sizes in New York’s public schools, it wouldn’t have to continue. But as the end of the council’s term ticks closer, the two are standing in the way of a popular bill, adding a new and frustrating chapter to a drama that’s been playing out for decades.

New York City parents and educators have been calling for smaller class sizes since at least the 1960s. In 2003, the state’s highest court agreed with them. It concluded that class sizes were too large to provide students with their right, guaranteed by the state Constitution, to a sound basic education. It found that the plaintiffs, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, “presented measurable proof” that New York City schools have “excessive class sizes, and that class size affects learning.” It concluded:“The number of children in these straits is large enough to represent a systemic failure.”

To remedy this and other inequities, the court ordered that the state provide more funding to high-needs districts, and in 2007, the state passed a law requiring New York City to use these funds to lower class size. But then the Great Recession hit, and the full state funding never materialized. Class sizes actually increased.

Today, classes in the city’s public schools are larger than they were in 2003—especially in the early grades. Before the pandemic hit in 2020, more than 330,000 students—roughly a third of the school population—were crammed into classes of 30 or more. On average, classes in the city’s public schools are 15 percent to 30 percent larger than they are in the rest of the state. While both Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio, the city’s most recent mayors, promised to address this critical inequity during their campaigns, both failed to follow through once elected.

Now, the pandemic has brought the perennial problem of class size into sharper focus, as the need for social distancing has made smaller classes more critical than ever. At the same time, Covid-19 has helped bring unprecedented resources that could be used to address the issue: Over the next three years, the city is due to receive an additional $8 billion in federal and state funds for our schools.

The federal funds are meant to help the city improve both the health and safety of the classroom environment—goals that smaller classes could help achieve. The state funds—which amount to $1.3 billion in additional annual aid, due to be phased in over three years—represent the long-overdue fulfillment of the mandate of the CFE case.

Together, these funds represent a remarkable opportunity, one the City Council recognized when it proposed that a substantial portion of them be allocated toward reducing class size. But the mayor balked. So the council’s education chair, Mark Treyger, introduced Int. 2374 in July, a bill that would effectively phase in smaller classes over three years. It would do this by increasing the per student square footage required in classrooms, ranging from about 18 to 26, depending on the grade level and room size.

The legislation currently has 41 cosponsors out of 50 members—a supermajority that could overturn the mayor’s likely veto. Yet the vote on this bill has been delayed by Speaker Corey Johnson, despite the fact that there are fewer than two weeks before the council adjourns for the year and a new one takes over in January.

Read on to review the research supporting the value of class size reduction as the most important and effective reform that schools should enact.

Why is City Council Chair Corey Johnson blocking this crucial measure?

Mayoral control of the schools was never a good idea. The current race for mayor of New York City demonstrates that it is a horrible idea. The leading candidate at the moment is Eric Adams, who was a police office, a member of the legislature, and borough president of Brooklyn. Certainly he has deep experience in municipal affairs.

But his plans for education are unsound. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Mercedes Schneider lives in Louisiana but she spotted Adams’ platform on the running the schools and called him out for the worst plan ever proposed.

She writes:

Eric Adams is running for mayor of New York City.

He wants to assign hundreds of students to a single teacher because technology could allow it, and it costs less.

Of course, in Adams’ mind, the ridiculous student-teacher ratio is fine because *great teachers* with technology (aka, kids on laptops) produces “skillful” teaching. Consider Adams’ words in this February 2021 candidate interview with Citizens Budget Commission president, Andrew Rein, when Rein asks Adams about how much a “full year school year” would cost. 

Apparently, Adams’ plan is the well-worn ed-reform idea of cost-cutting excellence:

Think about this for a moment, let’s go with the full year school year because that’s important to me. When you look at the heart of the dysfunctionality of our city, it’s the Department of Education. We keep producing, broken children that turn into broken adults and live in a broken system. 80% of the men and women at Rikers Island don’t have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma. 30% are reported based on one study to be dyslexic because we’re not doing what we should be doing in educating, we find ourselves putting young people in a place of being incarcerated. That must change. And so if you do a full year school year by using the new technology of remote learning, you don’t need children to be in a school building with a number of teachers, it’s just the opposite. You could have one great teacher that’s in one of our specialized high schools to teach 300 to 400 students who are struggling in math with the skillful way that they’re able to teach. 

Let’s look at our best mastered teachers and have them have programs where they’re no longer being just within a school building. We no longer have to live within the boundaries of walls, of locations. We can now have a different method of teaching and I’m going to have the best remote learning that we could possibly have, not just turning on the screen and having children look at someone or really being engaged.

When market-based ed reform hit Louisiana in 2011, one of my concerns as a classroom teacher was that I might be rated “highly effective” and *rewarded* with increased class sizes. That thinking was and still is an idiotic core belief of ed reform: A “great teacher” can continue to be great no matter how thin that teacher is spread in trying to meet the educational needs of any number of individual students.

When Michael Bloomberg was mayor, he once proposed a similar plan: Identify “great teachers” and double the size of their classes. No one thought that was a good idea. Adams wants the neediest children to be online in a class of 300-400 students. They will never get individual attention or help. Dumb idea.

But, wait! There’s more. After Adams got negative feedback for his proposal, he backtracked and said he had been misquoted or misunderstood. Leonie Haimson writes here that if most people learned one thing from the pandemic, it is that remote learning has limited and specific value. If students need extra attention, they will not be likely to get it in remote settings.

Leonie Haimson is a tireless advocate for small class size. At the drop of a hat, she will recite the research showing the value of small classes, especially for the neediest children.

She just published an article showing how New York City can afford to reduce class sizes.

She identifies the specific ways that the city can shift funds to reduce class sizes.

She begins:

The New York City Department of Education has lost 74 employees to the novel coronavirus, including 30 teachers and 28 paraprofessionals who have died as of May 8. Evidence has also emerged that children can develop serious illnesses after being infected with the virus, and even those who are asymptomatic are often effective transmitters.

Now that both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have wisely decided that our public schools will be closed through the end of June, it is time to start thinking about how they will be reopened in the fall to maximize the health and safety of students and staff, and strengthen the academic and emotional support that our students will need to make up for the myriad losses they have suffered this year.

As Mayor de Blasio has said, “Next school year will have to be the greatest academic school year New York City will ever have because everyone is going to be playing catch up.” And yet he has also proposed over $800 million in reductions to the Department of Education, including staffing freezes and at least $140 million taken directly out of school budgets, which would likely cause class sizes to grow even larger, the loss of school counselors and more.

How could next year be the best year ever, given such drastic reductions? In fact, our schools will need increased investments to provide the enhanced feedback and engagement that students will so desperately need after months of isolation and inadequate remote learning.

 

You are invited to the Annual Class Size Matters

“Skinny Award” Dinner

honoring those who have given us the

“real skinny” on NYC schools:

NY Attorney General Letitia James

NYC Kids PAC

 

Wednesday June 19, 2019  at 6 PM

 

Casa La Femme, 140 Charles St.

Join us for a delicious three course meal with a glass of wine and great company!

Together we will celebrate our victories and gain strength for the challenges to come.

DATE AND TIME
6/19/2019 6:00 PM TO 6/19/2019 9:00 PM
GOOGLE CALENDAR
LOCATION
CASA LA FEMME
140 CHARLES ST.
NEW YORK, NY 10014
CONTACT
LEONIE HAIMSON
LEONIEHAIMSON@GMAIL.COM
917-435-9329
https://www.nycharities.org/events/EventLevels.aspx?etid=11186

 

This Tuesday on June 11 at noon at City Hall, Network for Public Education is co-sponsoring a rally with Class Size Matters and many other organizations to urge NYC to allocate specific funding in next year’s budget towards reducing class size; please come if you can and bring your kids; they have the day off from school. 

 

Smaller classes have been linked with more learning and better student outcomes in every way that can be measured – students in smaller classes get better grades and better test scores, have fewer disciplinary problems, and graduate from high school and college at higher rates.  

 

Meanwhile,  NYC public schools have the largest class sizes in the state – and suffer from class sizes 15-30% bigger than students in the rest of the state on average.  More than 330,000 NYC students were in crammed into classes of 30 or more this fall. 

 

Here is a flyer with more information; please post it in your school and share it with others.  And please attend the rally on Tuesday if you can! 

 

 

Dear Friends-

1. Save the date! On Tuesday June 11 at noon at City Hall we will be rallying for smaller classes, urging the Mayor and the City Council to allocate funds in this year’s budget for class size reduction. Please come and bring your kids – they have the day off from school! Co-sponsored by Class Size Matters, NYC Kids PAC and the Network for Public Education. A flyer to post & distribute in your schools will be ready soon.

Click to access rally-v6.pdf

2. Last week in court we won a terrific victory when DOE withdrew its proposal to close PS 25, a small school in Bed Stuy. Because of very small classes, experienced teachers and a collaborative principal, PS 25 outperforms the city and the state in test scores, despite enrolling 100% low-income kids, 100% Black and Latino, 27% students with disabilities and about 30% homeless. From the bench, Judge Katherine Levine urged DOE to support the growth of this excellent school while ensuring that its class sizes remain small. She said, “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see one of the reasons the school has made so much progress is because of its small class sizes.”  More about this wonderful news on my blog and in the Brklyner.

3. Finally, please remember to buy a ticket to our Annual Skinny Award Dinner on Wednesday June 19; honorees include our amazing Attorney General Tish James and NYC Kids PAC.

And please forward this message to others who care, Leonie

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
212-529-3539

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If you live in or near New York City, this is the one event you cannot miss. You will meet heroes of the Resistance. The dinner on June 19 is a joyous occasion where great people who care passionately about better education for all children meet, drink, and dine, o behalf of Class Size Matters, the organization founded by Leonie Haimson to fight for smaller classes, higher funding, Student Privacy, and less emphasis on testing.

The honorees are super. Tish James, The recently elected Attorney General of the State of New York, is a champion of public schools. She is also a key figure in demanding public accountability from the Trump Administration, drug manufacturers, and many others.

The event will also honor NYC Kids PAC, an organization that truly puts the interests of children first (unlike others who tried to co-opt the title).

Here is the information you need to order tickets.

Save the date! On Wednesday June 19 we will hold our annual Skinny award dinner at Casa La Femme on 140 Charles St. The honorees will be Attorney General Tish James for her steadfast and courageous leadership in supporting public school students and parents over many years; and NYC Kids PAC, the only political action committee that rates candidates on their positions on public education. Please reserve your ticket now — for a delicious three course dinner with wine and great company besides!

Join me at the Skinny Awards!

Why the Skinny Awards? Because they are the opposite of the Broad Awards! At the Skinny Awards, people are honored for supporting public schools, not privatization. And unlike the Broad Awards, the honorees get a plastic engraved doodad, not a six-figure check.

This is a wonderful dinner that honors outstanding defenders of public education and benefits Class Size Matters, which fights for reduced class sizes, student privacy, parent voice, and adequate funding for public schools.

The event is tomorrow night in New York City.

Here is the invitation.

Meet Leonie Haimson (and me).

Leonie Haimson is a true school reformer, unlike the hedge funders, tycoons, and entrepreneurs who have falsely claimed that title. She is a dedicated education activist who has led the fight over many years for fully funded public schools and student privacy.

In this video, she talks with veteran journalist Bob Herbert about the mistakes of those in power who rely on standardized testing as the sole definition of success, about segregation, about the damage wrought by charter schools, and about the changes that will benefit all students.

Leonie Haimson is executive director and founder of Class Size Matters. In addition to advocating for reduced class size, Leonie is a nationally recognized defender of student privacy and has won notable battles against data mining. She is also the most effective education activist in the city of New York. I am a member of her board.

I hope you will join us on June 19 for the annual dinner to benefit Class Size Matters.

Please reserve your seat now for our Annual Skinny Award dinner on Tuesday June 19. We will be honoring four tremendous individuals who have given us the “real skinny” on NYC public schools:

Council Member Danny Dromm, Chair of the Finance Committee & former Education Chair

Norm Scott, retired teacher and
blogger/videographer extraordinaire

Fred Smith, testing expert and critic

And a surprise honoree who will be announced at the event!

Join us on June 19, 2018 at 6 PM at Casa La Femme, 140 Charles St. in Greenwich Village, for a delicious three course meal with a glass of wine and great company!

This is always one of the most joyous events of the year, where we celebrate our victories and gain strength for the challenges to come. Buy your tickets today.

Even if you can’t make it, please consider making a contribution at the above link in honor of these terrific awardees, and to support our work going forward.

Hope to see you at the Skinnies, and thanks! Leonie

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
212-529-3539

Make a tax-deductible contribution to Class Size Matters now!