Archives for category: Class size

Leonie Haimson has been leading the campaign for class size reduction (CSR) for more than 20 years. When I first met her in 2010, she convinced me that the research on class size reduction was overwhelming. It also happens to be the most important priority for parents. She is relentless. I am proud to be a board member of Class Size Matters, the small but mighty organization that Leonie founded and leads, on a budget that is a shoestring. For her dedication, hard work, and persistence, I add Leonie Haimson to the blog’s honor roll.

The campaign for CSR achieved its greatest success when the state legislature passed legislation to reduce class size, and after weeks of wondering, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the law.

Class Size Matters issued the following press release.

For immediate release: September 9, 2022

Contacts: Leonie Haimson: 917-435-9329; leoniehaimson@gmail.com
Julia Watson: 978.518.0729; julia@aqeny.org
Randi Garay and Shirley Aubin: infocpacnyc@gmail.com

Yesterday, Governor Hochul signed the class size bill passed overwhelmingly last June by the Legislature that would require NYC to phase in smaller classes over five years. The only change from the original bill is that the implementation will now begin in the fall of 2023, rather than this September.

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, said, “Thank you, Governor Hochul, for listening to the research showing that class size matters, especially for kids who need help the most, and for heeding the pleas of parents and teachers that it’s time to provide true equity to our students, who have long suffered from the largest class sizes in the state. We are eager to help the Chancellor, the UFT and the CSA put together an action plan to make sure that the implementation of this necessary improvement in our schools goes forward in an effective and workable manner.”

“For years, New York city parents, teachers and advocates have demanded smaller class sizes to benefit all public school students,” said Wendy Lecker, Education Law Center Senior Attorney. “Now that Governor Hochul has signed the class size reduction bill championed by Senators Robert Jackson and John Liu, City schools finally have another important tool to ensure their students receive a constitutional sound basic education.”

Parent leaders Randi Garay and Shirley Aubin said, “As the co-chairs of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, which represents all the Parent Associations and Parent Teacher Associations in the city’s public schools, we know that smaller classes have been a top priority of NYC parents for decades and how desperately they are needed. In the wake of the pandemic and with the infusion of new state and federal funds, we believe that smaller classes are not only more critical than ever, but more achievable as well. Thank you to the Governor for seeing the importance of smaller class sizes and signing the bill into law.”

“Students in New York’s public schools will be better off thanks to the class size reduction bill that Gov. Hochul signed yesterday. By signing this bill into law, she is sending a clear and important signal that she is on students’ side. We applaud the Governor for her commitment to New York’s students, especially as we are moving toward the third and final year of the State’s Foundation Aid commitment,” said Marina Marcou-O’Malley, Operations and Policy Director, Alliance for Quality Education.

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Leonie Haimson looked closely at the score declines on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and was disappointed to see the outpouring of false prescriptions. She was critical of claims that students needed to make up for lost time by being subjected to longer school days and weeks.

The best response, she argues, based on years of research, is to reduce class size and give students the attention and care they need to make up for lost time.

Jesse Hagopian, who is a veteran high school teacher in Seattle, writes here about the Seattle teachers’ strike:

Members of the Seattle Education Association—the union that represents Seattle’s teachers, nurses, librarians, instructional assistants, office professionals and educational support staff—voted Tuesday, September 6 to authorize a strike, which was triggered when the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) did not meet the just demands of the union. After SPS failed to even show up to the bargaining table on Friday and Saturday, about 95% of SEA members voted to authorize the strike, with some 75% of the members voting.

Wednesday, September 7th was supposed to have been the first day of school for 50,000 students who attend Seattle Public Schools—but the strike will close all of the schools until a contract is reached. The last time SEA went on strike was in 2015 when the union’s work stoppage won a visionary set of demands including, expanded racial equity teams, more recess time for students, an end to the use of standardized tests scores being used in teacher evaluations, and small wage increases.

Again today, a rank-and-file upsurge spurred the union to vote to strike for, among other issues, maintaining “staffing ratios for special education and multilingual learners and that the district seeks more staff input as it aims to provide services for those students in general education classrooms.” In addition, the union is demanding more counselors, nurses, and to increasing the wages of classified staff—including instructional assistants—so that they can afford to live in Seattle, a city with one of the highest costs of living.

Open the link and read more.

For the first time in nearly half a century, teachers in Columbus, Ohio, have voted to go on strike.

The Columbus Education Association announced Sunday night that more than 94% of it members had voted to reject the Columbus City school board’s last final offer and go on strike for the first time since 1975….

The nearly 4,500-member union — which represents teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors, psychologists and other education professionals — met for more than three hours at the convention center to vote.

A spokesperson for the CEA said:

“…The school board has tried desperately to make this strike about teacher salary, teacher professional development, and teacher leaves,” she said. “Let me be clear. This strike is about our students who deserve a commitment to modern schools with heating and air conditioning, smaller class sizes, and a well-rounded curriculum that includes art, music and (physical education).”

Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, asks you for your help. The state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill to require reduced class sizes in NYC. Governor Hochul has not sign it yet. If she doesn’t sign within 39 days, it’s a “pocket veto.” At the same time, NYC Mayor Eric Adams plans to cut the budget for schools. This would certainly make class size reduction impossible. Act now!

On June 3, the NY State Legislature passed S09460/ A10498, a long-needed bill to require NYC to lower class sizes, by a vote of 147 to 2 in the State Assembly and 59 to 4 in the State Senate. It calls for class size caps to be phased in over five years in all New York City public schools, whose students have long struggled from being jammed into the largest class sizes in the state.

Instead of abiding by the intent of this bill, Mayor Adams and the City Council agreed to a budget that will cut school budgets by at least $215 million, making it likely that class sizes will increase rather than decrease next fall.

Please sign this petition to Gov. Hochul to sign the class size bill as soon as possible, so that NYC schools can get on the right track towards improving learning conditions rather than undermining them. The petition is co-sponsored by Class Size Matters, the Alliance for Quality Education, NYC Kids PAC and the Education Council Consortium.

If you are like me, your head is spinning about the conflicting signals about New York City’s public schools. The state legislature voted to mandate smaller class sizes, which will cost money, but the City Council voted to cut the schools’ budget.

Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, encourages everyone to fight back. She has spent more than 20 years arguing for reduced class sizes as the most effective reform for schools.

Here is her message:

Dear folks – 

Sadly, late Monday night the NYC Council agreedto a city budget that will make at least $215M in cuts directly to schools, by a 44-6 vote. These egregious cuts, the largest since the Great Recession of 2007-2008, were made despite billions more in the city’s reserve fund, an expected city budget surplus of more than $1B next year, and nearly $5B in unspent federal stimulus funds meant for our schools. These cuts will likely cause class sizes to increase and the loss of critical services for kids, who are still recovering from the disruptions caused by more than two years of the pandemic.

There are three things you can do now to help us fight back:  

1.Sign our petition to Gov. Hochul, urging her to sign the new state class size bill, S09460A10498,as soon as possible, passed by the New York State Legislature on June 3 by a vote of 147 to 2 in the Assembly and 59 to 4 in the State Senate. Once she signs the bill, it will give us a legal avenue to try to reverse or limit the damage of these inexcusable cuts. The petition is co-sponsored by NYC Kids PAC, AQE and the Education Council Consortium.

2. You can also let DOE know directly how you feel about these cuts at the final C4E hearings tonight, Wed. June 15. You can sign up here, starting at 5 PM; the hearings begin at 6 PM. The public comments are required to be summarized, posted and sent to the NY State Education Department to help them decide whether to approve the city’s C4E plan. It goes without saying that “Excellence” will be harder to achieve than ever in our schools, given these devastating cuts. Some additional talking points are here.

3. Please also attend our Annual Skinny Award celebration, on Monday June 27, in which we will honor the state leaders who made the new class size bill possible.   You can find out more about our honorees and how to purchase your tickets here. This is the first fundraiser Class Size Matters has held in three years — and we can really use your support. The education leaders who will be there to receive their awards also deserve your thanks.

But don’t forget to sign our petition to Gov. Hochul today! I will be up in Albany tomorrow and will deliver it to her office if there are enough signatures by then.

Thanks, Leonie 

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
phone: 917-435-9329
leonie@classsizematters.org
www.classsizematters.org
Follow on twitter @leoniehaimson
Subscribe to the Class Size Matters newsletter for regular updates at http://tinyurl.com/kj5y5co
Subscribe to the NYC Education list serv by emailing NYCeducationnews+subscribe@groups.io

Host of “Talk out of School” WBAI radio show and podcast at https://talk-out-of-school.simplecast.com/

Leonie Haimson urges every concerned New Yorker to call Governor Hochul and sign the class-size-reduction bill. If she does not sign within 30 days, the bill will die.

ACT NOW!

Whew! The long-awaited and much-needed class size bill was passed yesterday afternoon by the NY State Senate, 59 to 4, and late last night by the State Assembly. It calls for class size caps in NYC public schools of no more than 20 students in grades K-3; 23 students in 4th-8th grades; and 25 in high school academic classes, phased in over five years. If implemented well, it will bring a sea-change to our schools, and equity at last to NYC kids.

Our press release is here, along with quotes from AQE and the Ed Law Center, hailing the passage of this bill and thanking the key Legislators who made this happen. It is now up to us to ensure that the DOE’s class size reduction plan and its implementation are reasonable, effective, and responsive to parent and community concerns.

But the first step is to urge Gov. Hochul to sign the bill, so the planning can start NOW. Please call her today at 1-518-474-8390 or send her a message via her contact form here. Tell her: “Please sign A10498/S09460 now so that NYC students can benefit from the smaller classes that kids in the rest of the state already receive.”

Yes!!!

After years of rallying, protesting, and demanding class size reductions, the parents and teachers of New York won! The legislature passed a bill mandating a reduction in class sizes.

This is the single most powerful reform that will help students, especially the neediest students, who will benefit from smaller classes and more teacher attention.

Class size reduction matters more than school choice or teacher evaluation or other expensive but ineffective fads.

A special shout out to Leonie Haimson, the unpaid executive director of Class Size matters, who has fought this battle with all her time and energy for years.

I’m proud to say that I am a board member of Class Size Matters and Leonie is a board member of the Network for Public Education.

Parents have pressed the New York Legislature for years to mandate smaller class sizes. They are close to achieving their goal.

State lawmakers have struck an agreement on bills that would extend mayoral control of the New York City school system for two years and mandate reductions in public school class size.

State Sen. John Liu of Queens, who chairs his chamber’s New York City education committee, and Assembly Education Chair Michael Benedetto confirmed the deal Tuesday morning.

“As you can imagine, there were many parties to the negotiation,” Liu said in an interview with Gothamist. “At the end of the day – or I should say at the end of the night – the Senate and Assembly concurred with this pair of bills.”

Legislative leaders reached the agreement late Monday, introducing a pair of bills that will be ready for a vote Thursday – the last day of the Legislature’s annual session in Albany. The two-year timeframe is less than what Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul were lobbying for and is designed to give parents more control over school governance

Class Size

If passed, the class size bill could dramatically shrink classes, a move many parents and educators say is the key to improving public school students’ academic and social growth.

The new bill would cap kindergarten through third grade classes at 20 students; fourth through eighth grade classes at 23 students; and high school classes at 25 students.

That’s compared to current caps for kindergarten at 25 students; first through sixth grade at 32 students; middle school classes at 30 (for Title I schools) or 33 students (for non-Title I schools); and high school classes at 34 students.

The reduction would be phased in starting this fall, and would have to be complete by 2027. If the city does not comply, money will be withheld.

“If enacted I think it will be a sea change for New York City students and their ability to learn,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of the advocacy group Class Size Matters. “These are really, really big class size changes, but they’re within our grasp.”

Haimson has been advocating for Class size reduction for many years. She has led countless rallies and organized parent actions. This act is a tribute to the power of parents.

The same bill will renew mayoral control for two years. Mayor Eric Adams had hoped for more. After two decades off mayoral control, it has lost its luster.

Please sign up now for our Annual Parent Action Conference on Saturday June 4 from 4 PM to 6 PM EST, co-sponsored by NYC Kids PAC and held via Zoom.  

Invited keynote speakers include Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Sen. Robert Jackson and NYC Council Education Chair Rita Joseph.

We will also brief you on the proposed budget cuts to NYC schools, and what parents can do to prevent them from happening.

This will be followed by a choice of workshops on these important issues:

  • Reforming Fair Student Funding
  • Resources for parents navigating the special education system
  • How DOE puts your child’s privacy at risk
  • Literacy in NYC: How parents forced a change
  • The problems with charter schools
  • Parent organizing and advocacy

Please register now at Eventbrite here or at https://tinyurl.com/PACconference22  

A flyer you can download and share is here.

Hope to see you there!

thanks Leonie

PS Please keep those calls going to your Legislators about including requiring that class size be reduced in any agreement on Mayoral control; links to their contact info as well as a script is posted here.