To settle the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit where parents successfully claimed in the 1990s that NYC schools were chronically underfunded by the state, the Contract for Excellence was agreed to. Class size limits in this 2007 state legislative settlement for NYC were supposed to average 20 for grades K-3, 22 for grades 3-8 and 25 for 9-12 by 2011. This is the law.
Before the settlement, lower class sizes were also a goal put in the UFT Contract in Article 8L which says in part: "With regard to the long term recommendations of the 2005 Fact Finders made subject to adequate CFE funding, the parties shall establish a Labor Management Committee to discuss the following issues:...d) a program for the reduction of class size in all grades and divisions." Absurd parts of Article 8L such as school wide merit pay have managed to come and go since then.
Remember lower class sizes for the city were supposed to be achieved by 2011 according to the law. Why haven't class sizes been lowered anywhere near CFE levels?
The fiscal crisis is long since past as the city and state budget surpluses show. Certainly, paying those paltry raises of 10% over 7 years for teachers and other city workers isn't causing the city to go broke. The main reason class size levels are way too high in my opinion is that our not so brave UFT leaders won't do anything more than give lip service to lowering class size. The Union calls it progress when there are only 5,485 classes over the traditional class size limits that range from 32-34 in grades 1-12. My daughter's grade one class has 28. This is outrageous. Kids get very little individual attention in these huge classes.
The reality of life in 21st Century America is that laws are for "little people" like teachers and public school students in the city. Teachers must be evaluated using ridiculous cookie cutter Danielson rubrics and invalid/unreliable student test scores. If we object, the law is thrown in our faces by the UFT. Our students must sit in large classes because when it comes to lower class sizes, leaders like Dennis Walcott, Joel Klein and Carmen Farina can just take the law and ignore it. And what does our union do? Ask us for more COPE money so public schools can continue to be mistreated by the politicians.