Archives for category: New York City

Leonie Haimson provides an update on the battle over the city’s education budget. Parents and teachers are fighting budget cuts by Mayor Eric Adams.

She writes:

Dear folks–

Sorry to say that late in the day yesterday, the Appellate Court granted the City a stay on Judge Frank’s decision that the Education budget was illegally adopted, which means that the school budget cuts can legally remain in place until the court hears the City’s appeal on August 29.

What’s particularly infuriating is that the City could have asked for a speedy decision from the Appellate court to settle this matter, but instead asked that the hearing not occur until the end of the month, which merely prolongs the uncertainty and the chaos that the City complained about in its brief. The statement from the Attorney for the plaintiffs about this latest decision is on the website here.

We have also prepared an updated FAQ about the court decisions. We are now asking the Council to push the Mayor to agree to a budget modification to restore the cuts as soon as possible, and not wait for any decision from the Court so that parents, teachers and kids can be assured of a safe, healthy and positive learning climate when they return to school in September.

Tomorrow, Thursday August 11, at 1 PM, parents, advocates and teachers will gather on the steps of City Hall to urge the City Council Members to demand the Mayor propose a budget modification, as they make their way into a Council stated meeting. They will then hold a press conference at 2 PM to convey this message . Please join them if you can! We must all do what we can to stop these horrific cuts to schools.

More soon, 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, executive director of the advocacy group Class Size Matters (and a board member of the Network for Public Education), reports that parents won their lawsuit against the City of New York and the Department of Education for budget cuts. The city rushed the process and failed to follow the procedures required by law.

As the opening of school draws near, principals are uncertain how to plan their budget. Have their budgets been cut or not? Are they laying off teachers or not?

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is imposing budget cuts on the public schools, and teachers of the arts are getting laid off first. Cutting the arts is incredibly stupid. Many students are motivated to attend school because of their involvement with the arts. Anyone who cuts the arts cuts joy, cuts creativity, cuts love of learning. Is Mayor Adams trying to drive students to charter schools to satisfy the billionaire hedge funders who supported his election?

On June 13, Paul Trust was called into the principal’s office at the PS 39 elementary school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he had taught music for over a decade.

In the meeting, the school’s administration told Trust that his job was in jeopardy and letting him go was the “worst-case scenario.” But after the principal met with the Borough Central Office to discuss her 2023 budget, that scenario became the reality: Trust would be “excessed,” or laid off from his position. And the school told its only other music teacher Nick Deutsch, who had been there for six years, the same thing, effectively eliminating its music department.

PS 39 was forced to decrease spending by 14%, one of approximately 1,200 district schools in New York — 77% of the city’s total — that were told to cut their budget by a specific dollar amount after Mayor Eric Adams slashed school funding by over $200 million. The cuts are tied to enrollment declines, which the majority of NYC schools experienced over the course of the pandemic. Budget decisions are at the discretion of the schools’ principals, and arts departments, already under-funded despite representing a “core academic subject,” are not protected…

In NYC, there are no allocations or guidelines mandating arts funding in schools. Reversing a 1997 initiative that earmarked arts spending per student, Mayor Mike Bloomberg eliminated mandates for the 2007 school year, allowing school principals to use previously allocated arts funding on anythingthey chose. The impact was immediate: That year, the percentage of schools without a certified art teacher rose from 20% to 30%, and spending on art supplies fell by 63%. …

The 2023 budget cuts could shrink NYC arts education programs even further, threatening the careers of public school arts teachers and leaving them with an uncertain future.

Gary Rubinstein finds that his criticism of Success Academy has caused some parents to reach out to him.

If they attended a public school, they could see the principal, the superintendent, or any number of officials who might be able to intervene.

So Success Academy parents have reached out to Gary to see if he can help them.

But at a charter school, if you have a complaint, they may tell you to choose another school. Leave.

This post is about a mother who was not allowed to attend her school’s graduation. It seems there were a couple of incidents. On one occasion, she failed to buy exactly the right pants for him to wear at school. On another, she went to his classroom without permission.

She had to be punished. She was barred from her son’s graduation.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck downNew York’s century-old concealed-carry gun law Thursday, removing restrictions on carrying guns in public and delivering a win to gun enthusiasts. The 6-3 ruling, which has been anticipated in the conservative-leaning court, makes it harder for officials to prevent civilians from carrying firearms in public without a permit by striking down New York’s rule that prospective gun-toters have “proper cause” to carry a weapon.

New York has long had separate measures in place to grant gun ownership for the home and for concealed carry in public.

The state’s top officials vowed to regroup and enact new measures to shore up New York’s gun control laws after the ruling Thursday, which kicks some decision-making back to a lower court and opens up new potential room for states to define “sensitive locations” where they will prohibit guns, like schools, courts, and, perhaps, subways, sports venues, and beyond.

Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, all Democrats, vowed to return to Albany to pass additional legislation. “I’m prepared to call the Legislature back into session to deal with this. We’ve been in contact with the leadership. We’re just looking at dates,” Hochul said.

Lawmakers are looking at ways to strengthen existing permitting requirements, enable private businesses to ban guns, and increase the number of areas deemed “sensitive locations,” where the Court left the carve-out for restricting guns. Hochul signed Alyssa’s LawThursday, requiring schools to consider installing silent panic alarms as part of their security systems following the mass shooting in a Texas elementary school last month.

The New York City Council will hold an oversight hearing on “access to firearms” on Friday — Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council members on Thursday called on the state to make virtually all of New York City a sensitive location to prohibit concealed carry in the five boroughs.

Attorney General Letitia James and a number of prosecutors around the state, including in New York City, vowed to examine the ruling and look for ways to limit the dangers of guns proliferating in public.

Mayor Eric Adams said the city was reviewing its definition of “sensitive locations, and the city’s own gun license application process in light of the ruling. “Put simply, this Supreme Court ruling will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence,” the mayor said in a statement.

The New York State Board of Regents recently decided to permit the Ember Charter School in Brooklyn to expand and add a high school. Charter schools get permission to grow if they have demonstrated success. Gary Rubinstein checked state data and found that Ember’s greatest “success” was getting rid of students by attrition.

The Regents must know this too. Why did they vote to expand a failing charter school?

Rubinstein writes:

Currently there are 267 charter schools in New York City. In New York State the charter ‘cap’ is 460, though the cap for New York City is 267 so as of right now, no new charters can open in New York City.

Charter school supporters often complain that the cap needs to be lifted or that some of the out of NYC charter slots could be given to New York City. But there are two ways that charters can get more students even without lifting the cap. The most obvious way is for charters to reduce their attrition rates. So a network like Success Academy has about 40,000 students right now. But about 75% of their students who start in kindergarten don’t make it to graduation. Success Academy could probably increase their population to 70,000 if few of their students weren’t on the official or unofficial ‘got-to-go’ list. The other way to evade the cap is for existing charter schools to expand into more grades.

Ember charter school is a K-10 school that currently has 568 students. They were recently permitted to add high school grades based, in part, on the school’s ability to raise test scores. If you go to their website you will see a very impressive looking graph:

The light green line shows the percent of their first cohort’s math percent passing the state test from grade 3 to grade 7. It went from 28% in grade 3 down to 23% in grade 4 and then again to 14% in grade 5 Then an amazing reversal occurred and in 6th grade they shot up from 14% up to 56% and the next year they had 82% passing in grade 7. It seems to be an incredible turnaround from 14% to 82% in just 2 years.

When faced with a miracle statistic like this, there are two questions that cross my mind. The first thing I wonder is how much of this growth is based on attrition. The second is whether they were able to replicate this success for their other cohorts.

For that first cohort who finished 7th grade in 2018, I found on the New York State data site that this cohort once had 60 students when they were in first grade. By the time they got to the miracle 2017-2018 year where they got 82% passing the math test, they were down to just 28 students. Here is a graph of their percent passing math and their cohort size on the same graph.

As you can see, the two graphs are practically mirror images of each other. When they were 3rd graders, 16 out of 57 was 28%. When they were in 7th grade, 23 out of 28 was 82%. So basically they got 7 more kids to pass the test.

I made a similar chart for the second and third cohorts. The second cohort had similar attrition, they went fro 71 students down to 37 between 4th grade and 7th grade but they did not get the 82% passing by 7th grade. They only got to 43% passing, even with the nearly 50% attrition.

The third cohort was the lowest performing of all. They had almost no attrition, keeping around 65 students throughout. They only had 6% of that cohort passing in both 3rd and 4th grade. And by 6th grade they were up to 23%, well below the district.

So just like so many other charter schools, when they can’t cheat by booting out their students, their test scores are nothing special. How they get permission to expand is definitely a scandal.

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.