Archives for category: Class size

Jan Resseger explains the history and context of the truly historic teachers’ strike in Chicago that recently ended. She explains it with clarity, as only Jan can do.

This was not a strike for higher salaries. The mayor offered a 16% increase before the strike began, and that is what the Chicago Teachers Union accepted.

This was a strike for students. This was a strike to reverse a quarter-century of disinvestment by Mayors Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel.

This was a strike against 25 years of austerity in a booming city that had billions for developers but nothing for students and schools.

This was a strike against corporate reform, which starved the public schools for the benefit of charter schools.

This was a historic strike. To understand why, read this post.

The CTU reached a tentative agreement with Chicago Public Schools. The CTU House of Delegates voted 364-242 to suspend the strike pending resolution of final issues. The settlement, which meets most of the CTU demands, will be voted on by the full membership within 10 days.

But the strike is not yet over. The sides are very close but the union wants an assurance that there will be no loss of instructional time for the students. They want to make up the instructional time, possibly by extending the school year. Thus far, Mayor Lightfoot says no.

The union made no concessions. For the first time ever, they have won enforceable guarantees about class sizes, though the agreed-upon limits are still too large: no more than 32 students in K-3. No more than 35 in upper grades. $35 million has been pledged for class size reductions, which will be lowered as funding permits. The agreement commits the city not to authorize any new charters, nor add to the current enrollment of students in charter schools.

No school tomorrow while the bargaining continues.

The settlement contains not only caps on class sizes, but guarantees about school nurses, and other important staffing issues. It also offers significant salary increases, which was not a contentious issue. The union really did fight for better conditions for their students. .

The Big Three—Governor Pritzker, the Democrats in the Legislature and House Speaker Madigan— have agreed to restore a democratically elected board to replace mayoral control and to restore full collective bargaining rights so Chicago is on the same footing as other districts in Illinois.

Now we wait to see how long it will take to assure that the students do not lose instructional time.





From the Chicago Teachers Union:


For ten months we had absolutely no progress on key proposals. After only two strike days, we have seen considerable movement and crucial openings on issues such as homeless students, class sizes, staffing and other key issues that the mayor told us would not be open for bargaining. Today, we got a tentative agreement for specific staff positions to support Students in Temporary Living Situations (students who qualify as homeless). For Pre-Kindergarten classes, we won contractual guarantees that CPS will follow Illinois law in maintaining a ratio of 1 adult for every 10 students in a Pre-K classroom. We also won guaranteed naps for preschoolers in all-day pre-K programs. We won language that counselors will not be pulled from counseling to do other duties such as substitute teaching in a classroom. This will lead to greater counselor access for our students.

We also brought CPS a new counter-offer on class size, today. We need guaranteed caps on class sizes and we continue to fight for them. There are still many open issues, including prep time and steps for veteran teachers, as well as a raise capable of moving our lowest-paid paraprofessionals above poverty wages.

Our gains have only been possible thanks to the strength of our picket lines, the turnout at our afternoon protests and the support we’ve gotten from students, parents and community members. Keep it up!

Pickets Monday at 6:30am

Although we made progress over the weekend on important issues, this strike will need to continue Monday. Like Thursday and Friday, all CTU members are directed to picket at their schools, starting at 6:30 a.m. Although different schools have different start times, it’s important that our union operate as one. Keep talking to parents, students and community members about what we’re fighting for. Despite the expected rain, we need to keep up our strength to win what’s best for our schools and our students. Dress for rain, bring umbrellas and boots. Take turns coming inside. But keep those picket lines strong from 6:30 to 10:30!

Regional unity marches

In a number of neighborhoods, educators at schools near one another are coming together for particular actions tomorrow.

Southwest Side

CTU strikers will line Pulaski from Archer to 111th from 8:00am to 9:00am. Contact for more information.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park “Nurse in Every School” Solidarity March for Justice

CTU, SEIU, National Nurses United and Graduate Students United at University of Chicago are combining forces to put muscle behind our call for adequate and equitable nurse staffing. Marches will start at area schools between 8:45 and 9:00 am and converge on Kenwood Academy at 9:45am.

You can email Michael Shea of Kenwood Academy for more information and coordination.

North Side

Striking CTU and SEIU members on the north side will be enacting a solidarity action down Addison Street from Broadway to the expressway Monday at 8:00 am. Participating schools currently include Disney 1, Greeley, InterAmerican, Nettlehorst, Hawthorne, Blaine, Lakeview, Hamilton, Jahn, Burley, Audubon, Coonley, Bell, Lane Tech, Linne, Cleveland, Henry, Disney II, Murphy, and Belden.

March at 2:00pm at Union Park

Our afternoon rallies have been incredibly effective in demonstrating our unity and the sheer scale of what we are fighting for. Keep coming!

Monday, we will march from Union Park, at the corner of Washington and Ogden. The location is accessible from the Green Line Ashland stop and by bus (Ashland, Ogden, etc.).

Afternoon Allied Actions

Raise Chicago Coalition

Youth will hold an action at City Hall at 1:00 p.m. to highlight the need for $15 per hour minimum wage AND the need for a fair contract that enshrines the resources schools need to combat things like overcrowded classrooms and housing issues.

Resist, Reimagine, Rebuild Coalition

The R3 coalition will host a Teach-In for Strikers so that they may learn about community based struggles that support and intersect with teachers demands for education justice. It will be held at Experimental Station (6100 S Blackstone) from 12:00 to 3:00 pm.

Art Build

The Grassroots Collaborative will be setting up an art build at the CTU Center Monday night from 5:00 to 8:00 pm to create signs and props for colorful and impactful actions later this week.

Image adapted by Jesus Sanchez of Social Justice HS from Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems.

Day 2 of CTU strike will bring educators, allies to City Hall at 1:30 pm

Some movement at bargaining table Thursday, but no agreement on special ed needs, classroom overcrowding, salary floor for low-wage teaching assistants, staffing shortages.

CHICAGO—Educators and frontline staff will hit the picket lines for a second day today, as rank and file union members attempt to bargain a fair contract for 25,000 CTU teachers, clinicians, teaching assistants and support staff. While some progress was made at the bargaining table Thursday, the union and CPS ramain far apart on efforts to reign in exploding class sizes and find a path to remedying dire shortages of school nurses, social workers, special education teachers and other critical staff.

Late this afternoon, CPS refused to discuss a proposal on special education needs with the expert special education teachers and clinicians at the table who had crafted the proposal, because not every CTU officer was present. The CTU’s 40+ member rank and file bargaining team must sign off on any tentative agreement to be sent to members for approval.

Today’s schedule: Thursday, Oct. 17


  • 1:30 p.m.: Mass rally and march, City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St. with CTU rank and file, grassroots community groups, CTU officers, elected officials, allies.

Fast facts:

  • The State’s new equity-based school funding formula is sending a billion-plus additional dollars each year to CPS to reduce sizes of chronically overcrowded classes, support students in poverty and increase services to special education students and English language learners.
  • CPS passed the largest budget in its history this year: $7.7 billion. Yet CPS cut the amount of dollars it is spending in school communities this year.
  • Juarez High School in Pilsen, which enrolls over 1,300 overwhelmingly low-income Latinx students, saw its school budget cut this year by $840,000, costing the school nine teaching and staff positions.
  • CPS cut the budgets of more than 200 CPS schools by at least $100,000, and cut the budgets of more than 40 schools by more than half a million dollars for this school year.
  • CTU educators are fighting for better wages, smaller class sizes, adequate staffing, and educational justice for students and their families. They want the additional state revenue CPS receives to increase equity to go to school communities and student needs.
  • Almost half of CPS’ students are Latinx. Yet the district has acute shortages of ELL teachers—teachers for English language learners—and is severely short of bilingual social workers. Bilingual education services are chronically short of both educators and resources—a key issue at the bargaining table.
  • CPS is desperately short of school nurses, social workers, librarians, special education teachers, ELL teachers and more. CPS has staffing ratios three to five times higher than those recommended by national professional organizations and best practices. Fewer than 115 school nurses serve over 500 schools. Most schools have a nurse only one day a week.
  • One out of four schools has a librarian—and that number falls to barely one in ten for Black-majority schools. A decade ago, most schools had a librarian.
  • CPS is desperately short of social workers and special education teachers, even as CPS is under the oversight of a state monitor for shortchanging its diverse learners.
  • This year, more than 1,300 CPS classes are overcrowded under CPS’ own high class caps, up from more than a thousand overcrowded classrooms last year.
  • Almost 25% of elementary students attend overcrowded classes, with some kindergarten classes topping 40 students. Roughly 35% of high school students are enrolled in overcrowded classes; at schools like Simeon, virtually every core class is overcrowded, with math, social studies and world language classes topping 39 students.
  • The CTU’s school clerks and teaching assistants earn wages as low as $28,000/year—so low the children of two-thirds qualify for free and reduced lunch under federal poverty guidelines. Over 1,100 cannot afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment at prevailing rent rates in ANY zip code in the city. In year 5 of the mayor’s proposed contract, most of those workers would still be earning poverty wages. And in the last ten years, NO CTU member’s wages have kept pace with the inflation rate.
  • Candidate Lightfoot ran on a platform calling for equity and educational justice—including a nurse, a social worker and a librarian in every school—all proposals her negotiating team has rejected at the table. She also ran in support of an elected, representative school board—but moved to stall that legislation in the Illinois Senate after she was elected.
  • CPS has said it has budgeted to improve staffing shortages, but refuses to put those commitments in writing in an enforceable contract. The union wants those promises in writing, in an enforceable contract—the only way we have to hold CPS and the 5th floor to their promises.


Here is news you can use! Carol Burris and Leonie Haimson now have a regular one-hour radio show on WBAI In New York. The show is called TALK OUT OF SCHOOL, and it will appear weekly. WBAI is part of the progressive Pacifica Network.

In their first show, they discussed student privacy, a subject on which Leonie is a national advocate and expert, and they analyzed current controversies about diversity, selective admissions, and racial integration, a subject where Carol has extensive experience as principal of a detracked high school on Long Island.

Leonie is executive director of Class Size Matters and co-founder of the national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. Carol is executive director of the Network for Public Education.

Next week, Leonie will interview civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker.

Of this you can be certain, this show will be a place to hear talk that is characterized by experience, common sense, and wisdom.




Domingo Morel is a scholar of state takeovers. He wrote a book called Takeover:  Race, Education, and American Democracy. He was also a member of the team from Johns Hopkins that studied the problems of the Providence schools. And, what’s more, he is a graduate of the Providence public schools.

In other words, he has solid credentials to speak about the future of the Providence public schools. The schools are already under mayoral control, so discount that magic bullet that reformers usually prefer.

He knows from his study of state takeovers that they do not address root causes of school dysfunction.

Consider this:

As a scholar of state takeovers of school districts, I have seen how communities desperate to improve their schools placed their hopes in state takeovers, only to be disappointed. While the long-term effects of takeovers on student achievement often fail to meet expectations, the effects on community engagement are devastating. In most takeovers, states remove local entities — school boards, administrators, teachers, parents and community organizations — from decision-making about their schools.

Those who have read the Johns Hopkins report are aware that the absence of community engagement is a major issue in the Providence Schools. Demographic differences are a major reason. Students of color represent more than 85% of the student population and English Language Learners represent nearly 30%, while more than 80% of the teachers are white. These differences are not trivial…

To help cultivate community engagement, the state could partner with a collective of community organizations, including Parents Leading for Educational Equity, ProvParents, the Equity Institute, the Latino Policy Institute, CYCLE and the Providence Student Union, which have come together over concerns with the Providence schools.

Finally, state officials should examine their role in contributing to the current conditions in Providence. State funding, particularly to support English Language Learners and facilities, has been inadequate. In addition, the absence of a pipeline for teachers of color is a state failure.

What a surprising set of recommendations: increase the pipeline of teachers of color. Build community engagement. Work with community organizations. Increase state funding.

He might also have added: Reduce class sizes. Provide wraparound services for students and adults. Open health clinics for families in the schools or communities. Improve and increase early childhood education. Beef up arts education and performance spaces in every school.

It takes a village, not a flock of hedge fund managers or a passel of fly-by billionaires hawking charter schools.



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! 


Measure EE went down to defeat in Los Angeles yesterday. It was an effort to raise taxes mostly on commercial real estate to raise $500 million a year for the schools—to reduce class sizes, hire librarians, nurses, social workers, and psychologists and to expand classes in art and music. An election this important should appear during a general election, when most people vote.


For immediate release

CONTACT: Anna Bakalis
UTLA Communications Director
(213) 305-9654 (c)
(213) 368-6247 (o)<>

To watch the live 1:30 PM press conference, click here<>.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl on Measure EE

We are proud of the work we poured into the Measure EE campaign. Our members participated in precinct walks, community events, and phone banks, talking to voters across the city. We know the community fundamentally trusts educators and supports the demands we are making for our schools, with UTLA’s strike in January being the historic case in point.

We faced a scorched-earth opposition, led by the LA Chamber of Commerce and aided by the Howard Jarvis Association and key Trump allies like Geoffrey Palmer. They had one purpose: to defend corporate profits at the expense of the students of our city.

The No on EE forces created lies about how the tax would work and fanned the flames of economic insecurity. They attacked not just LAUSD but the civic institution of public education and the educators who serve our students. They drove a destructive individualistic message that encouraged voters not to think about the needs of our students or the broader city.

Measure EE was just the beginning of the fight for funding sparked by our strike. It’s simply unsustainable for the richest state in the nation to rank 44th out of 50 in per-pupil funding. We are resolved to keep organizing for measures like Schools and Communities First on the November 2020 ballot, which would close commercial property tax loopholes and restore $11 billion for schools and community services.

There were ground-breaking elements to the Measure EE campaign that make us stronger for the work ahead. The City of LA is talking about the chronic underfunding of public schools in a way it never has. We partnered with community organizations focused on increasing voter participation in working-class communities and communities of color. In a district with 85% low-income students and 90% students of color, this is both righteous and necessary. We built a broad community/labor/elected coalition around addressing school funding that has not existed before in LA. That coalition, which includes some unlikely partners, has decidedly landed on the side of progressive taxation — taxation of business and corporations — as the pathway to improved school funding.

The agenda to starve our public schools will not win as long as we continue to build our movement.

Today is hard — but educators face and overcome obstacles every day. There is no other option. Like we do every day, we will continue to fight for our students.


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

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Leonie Haimson is a force of nature. She and her! Student Privacy allies beat Bill Gates’ $100 Million inBloom data-collection project. She and her parent allies forced the NYC Department of Education to back down and keep open high-performing low-enrollment PS 25 in Brooklyn. Now she and her allies are going back to court to fight State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia over the matter of class size in NYC. 

Give up, MaryEllen!

Haimson sends out the alert: Game on!

On Thursday May 23, 2019 the Education Law Center filed an appeal on behalf of nine NYC parents, Class Size Matters and the Alliance for Quality Education, urging the Appellate court to order the Department of Education to reduce class size in all grades as the Contracts for Excellence law requires. Our original lawsuit, Agostini vs. Elia, was filed in April 2018 when the State Education Commissioner refused to take action and enforce the law.   

In December 2018, Acting Supreme Court Judge Henry Zwack ruled against us in a brief decision that engaged with neither the law nor the facts of the case, and merely claimed that this was a matter for the Commissioner to decide.  She in turn had argued that any class size obligations on the part of the DOE had expired years ago. Our appeal demonstrates how that view is false — and if the Legislature wanted to eliminate DOE’s legal obligation to lower class size, they would have changed the law.  Oral arguments in the case will likely occur late this summer.

The press release from ELC is here and below. — Leonie Haimson 

The plaintiffs in a legal action to enforce a mandate to reduce class size in New York City public schools filed their brief on May 23 in an Albany appellate court. The lawsuit began in June 2017 as an administrative petition demanding that the State Commissioner of Education, MaryEllen Elia, order the NYC Schools Chancellor, the New York City Department of Education, and the New York City Board of Education to comply with the law. When the Commissioner dismissed the petition, the plaintiffs brought the case to court.
The plaintiffs in the case are nine New York City public school parents, as well as Class Size Matters and the Alliance for Quality Education, two prominent New York public school advocacy organizations. Education Law Center Senior Attorney Wendy Lecker is representing the plaintiffs.
Under a state law known as the Contract for Excellence, or “C4E,” the NYC Chancellor and the Department and Board of Education are required to develop a five-year plan to reduce class size to target averages in three grade spans: K-3, 4-8, and 9-12. After the law was enacted in 2007, New York City developed a plan which was approved by the Commissioner in 2007.
The City never fulfilled the 2007 plan within five years, or by 2012. Nor has the City implemented the 2007 plan or any other plan that complies with the C4E law. As a result, class sizes now are as large or even larger than they were in 2007. Between 2007-2016, for example, the number of students in classes of 30 or more in grades 1-3 increased by 4,000% to over 40,000.
In dismissing the Petition in 2017, the Commissioner ruled that since the 2007 plan “concluded” in 2012, or five years after it was approved, the petition was moot even though the City never implemented the plan. The plaintiffs challenged the Commissioner’s decision in State Supreme Court, which “deferred” to the Commissioner’s interpretation of the term “within five years” in the C4E law.
The plaintiffs have now appealed to the Appellate Division. They argue that the Commissioner misinterpreted the C4E law. The five-year endpoint in the law was the deadline the Legislature imposed to accomplish class size reduction. It was not the date at which the City’s legal obligation would magically disappear. Moreover, the lower court wrongly deferred to the Commissioner’s interpretation of the C4E law.
“The NYC Department of Education has violated the Contract for Excellence Law for over a decade because of its refusal to reduce class size,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “As a result, more than 336,000 students were crammed into classes of thirty or more this fall. Our thanks to the Education Law Center for representing Class Size Matters and nine NYC parent plaintiffs in this important appeal. If the Appellate Court decides on the basis of the law and the facts, it will require that NYC students finally receive their right to a sound basic education with the smaller classes they need and deserve.”
“Class size is an important factor in determining whether students have the opportunity to succeed in school. Ensuring that every student has a chance to succeed is our moral duty. Following the law shouldn’t be a choice. We hope the court ensures that the students of New York receive their constitutionally granted right to ‘a sound basic education,'” said Marina Marcou-O’Malley, Operations and Policy Director for the Alliance for Quality Education.
Oral argument in the appeal will likely take place in the late summer.
Education Law Center Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24