I'm quite late to the dance here but I read about Public Advocate Letitia James joining parents and education advocates to file a complaint with the State Education Commissioner concerning the New York City Department of Education not living up to the law and reducing class sizes. Here is the press release from Leonie Haimson's Class Size Matters, one of the groups inolved in the complaint.
One question: Why isn't the UFT leading or joining the fight here?
Class sizes have actually gone up over the last ten years in New York City schools.
This is from the press release on the Commissioner's Complaint:
In 2007, as required by the C4E law, the DOE developed a class size reduction plan for the City’s public schools, pledging to lower average class sizes in Kindergarten through third grade over five years to no more than 20 students; in fourth through eighth grade to no more than 23 students; and to no more than 25 students per class in high school core classes. The State Education Commissioner approved the plan.
The DOE never delivered on its plan. Instead, class sizes have increased sharply since 2007, particularly in the early grades, and are now substantially larger than when the C4E law was enacted. As of fall 2016, DOE data show classes in Kindergarten through third grade were more than 18 percent larger, classes in grades four through eight were six percent larger, and high school classes were 1.5 percent larger than in 2007.
NYC Educator also covered the Commissioner's Complaint. The opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus in the UFT called MORE-NEW ACTION needs to do more than publicize this case.The UFT must be pressured to join the parents or file our own case. After all, lower class size from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity sttlement is part of the UFT contract. As bad as the 2005 contract was, there are a couple of decent parts in Article 8L.
This is Article 8L.
Labor/Management Committee On Long Term Reforms
With regard to the long term recommendations the 2005 Fact Finders made subject to adequate CFE funding, the parties shall establish a Labor Management Committee to discuss the following issues: a) bonuses, including housing bonues, for shortage license areas; b) a pilot project for school-wide based performance bonuses for sustanined growth in student acheivement; c) salary differentials at the MA-5 through MA-7 levels; and d) a program for the reduction of class sizes in all grades and divisions. If the parties agree on the terms of any or all of these issues, they may be implemented by the Board using whhatever funds may be identified.
Of course we know how the school-wide bonuses were offered for years and then abandoned as they were as dumb as they sounded. The housing program is in Appendix H of the 2007-2009 contract. We're happy that the five year longevity was introduced in 2006.
Which reform has never seen the light of day? You guessed it, the lower class sizes.
Thanks to Michael Bloomberg, Joel Klein, Dennis Walcott, Bill de Blasio and Carmen Farina, principals are given the discretion on how they want to spend their CFE funds. Enlightened principals have used them to lower class sizes. In the spring 2017 cycle at Middle College my largest class had 23 students in it. Three of my classes were in the teens. These classs sizes are ideal, particularly as we do project based learning.
Is there precedent for the UFT joining a parent complaint to the New York State Education Commissioner? Yes there is.
Back in 2008, at Leonie Haimson's urging, I sponsored an amendment to a resolution on School Leadership Teams at the Delegate Assembly asking for the UFT to join with the parents who were complaining to the State Education Commissioner that the NYC DOE was not following the law on School Leadership Teams. Joel Klein argued that they were advisory only. Then UFT President Randi Weingarten encouraged the Unity Caucus faithful (her and Michael Mulgrew's political party that demands complete loyalty from its members) to support this amendment and it passed. We won the case.
NYC Educator (AKA Arthur Goldstein) is one of seven elected high school representatives on the UFT Executive Board from the MORE-New Action coalition that won the high schools in the 2016 UFT election. The seven had an excellent first year. Convincing the UFT to join with the parents on lowering class sizes should be a top priority of the opposition High School Executive Board in September.