“As the State Legislature prepares to vote, it should be mindful that changes to the nation’s largest school district must take into consideration the impact these changes will have on over one million students and educators. Taken together, the proposed bills force school leaders to put class size above supportive programming for our kids.
As a lifelong educator I deeply appreciate the focus on reducing class size, and if given time we can work together with union leadership to find a way forward so our highest-need students see the benefit of lower-class sizes. But the proposed multibillion dollar unfunded mandate in this bill forces school leaders to prioritize class size above critical school safety programs, dyslexia screenings, social workers, school nurses, summer programming, supports for special student populations, and even the expansion of community schools. Make no mistake, it will lead to large cuts in these critical programs. This should not be a choice that school leaders have to make.
If the State Legislature is going to move forward with the bill on class size limits, my appeal to our state legislators in Albany is to fully fund the bill. If this class size issue is so critical to the future of our young people, then we must ensure that the state put its financial resources behind this bill. An unfunded mandate like this would potentially do huge damage to our system.
The Panel for Educational Policy is responsible for oversight of our fiscal resources and advising on critical policy issues. By increasing the number of members and applying fixed terms for panel members, this bill puts more bureaucracy in the way of making real change for kids. Mayoral accountability is essential to our students’ success as we emerge from COVID, and a two-year renewal is too short a time to provide our students with the certainty they need and is a marked departure from the longer extensions given to previous administrations run by mayors who did not even attend city public schools.
From keeping our schools open to reimagining our Gifted & Talented programs and how we teach kids to read to the hiring of superintendents, this administration is listening, adapting, and responding to the real needs of students, families, and community leaders who are passionate about the success of our city’s public school students.”
Additional information on background:
Regarding the bill limiting class sizes in NYC public schools – This bill specifically targets NYC public schools with a massive unfunded mandate from the state. The cost estimate for the kindergarten through fifth grade class sizes is approximately $500 million a year, which does not include middle or high school grades. Further estimates must consider the capital costs to build more schools and classroom seats across the city, which could potentially amount to billions of additional dollars in unfunded costs.
Without additional funding, this proposal would require us to defund several critical programs across the city – like recent expansion in social workers, school nurses, school safety programs, dyslexia screenings and curriculum, and other vital parts of making our schools innovative, supportive places for young people.
Regarding proposed changes to the Panel for Education Policy – We fully support equitable representation of parents on the Panel for Educational policy and support requirements that mayoral appointees represent groups of parents and the proposal that the majority by current parents with student currently attending a public school.
Clear mayoral accountability is essential to our students’ success as we emerge from COVID, and two years is too short a limit, does not provide our students with the certainty they need, and is a marked departure from the longer extensions given to previous administrations run by mayors who did not attend city public schools. Additionally, changes like making all CECs even-numbered panels and putting a District 75 parent on every geographic council are changes that have very little support amongst parents.