The State Legislature in 2007 passed into law lower limits for the average class sizes in NYC as part of what is called Contracts for Excellence to settle the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit. However, since that time class sizes have gone up while Unity/UFT has stood idly by.
MORE/NEW ACTION representatives opposed to Michael Mulgrew's majority Unity Caucus did not push last night to make lower class size a major contract demand because the UFT will argue that this will take away from money for salary increases. Fair enough, so why not use the C4E law to force the DOE to use state money earmarked for this purpose to actually lower class sizes to levels the city agreed to back in 2007? It's the law.
Here is the original major resolved clause as we wrote it:
Resolved, that the UFT will make lowering class sizes to C4E limits of 20 students in a class in k-3, 23 in a class grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes a major goal.
The Unity/UFT response to our resolution was to amend it by striking this resolved clause that would force the DOE to lower class sizes and replacing it with:
Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.
We need more than just more money from the state. Too many principals are spending the Contracts for Excellence money on their own slush funds for their pet programs while NYC class sizes remain the highest in the state. Arthur asked that this be changed without it impacting contract negotiations but the Unity people said no. Instead, they just want more money from the state that can be spent on more administrators or more school closings.
You wonder why many UFT members can't stand the UFT.
The entire motivation from Arthur and the Unity response from Arthur's report are below.
Arthur Goldstein—MORE—Since our last class size resolution, we’ve given a lot of thought to the idea that all contractual negotiation was the province of the 300 member committee. We acknowledge and understand that position, which is why this resolution makes no mention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and proposes nothing related to it.
Instead, we’re focusing on an existing mandate. This gives us a golden opportunity to support our students and members without touching upon confidential negotiations. It’s been a long time since we’ve taken concrete steps to help the class size situation. In actual fact, it’s been over half a century.
Here’s a way for us to address not only class size, but also the problematic nature of enforcement. Instead of giving teachers a day off from tutoring, let’s offer those who violate the law consequences worthy of lawbreakers. Let’s make recalcitrant principals and DOE lawyers subject to actual law and its consequences. Let’s decisively end the practice of making teachers and students pay when administrators and lawyers who claim to place, “Children First, Always” practice contempt for the law. We can do that right here and right now.
Let’s take this opportunity to show communities and members that we will zealously press for the enforcement of regulations designed to help and support them. Let’s show our colleagues, at this crucial juncture, that union is there to support them. Let’s show city parents that we, the people who wake up every day to work with their children, are the people who really put children first.
And let’s tell politicians who cavalierly ignore the law that we won’t allow them to do it anymore.
Stuart Kaplan—amendment—Strike second to last “Whereas” and first Resolved. Adds Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.
Gregg Lundahl—Asks to strike second to last Whereas (same one) Says there is a difference between C4E and CFE, C4E doesn’t have specific numbers, but there is a great deal of money withheld since 2015. Don’t wish to pay for it in contract negotiations. These are specific numbers. Much more comfortable with our substitute resolution. If we fight to do this for the contract money will have to come from somewhere. Let’s get money from state.
Kiera—Point person for class sizes. Speaks in support of the amendment. Looks at it from negotiation standpoint. Doesn’t want to make class size negotiation public policy.
First strike next to last whereas—Vote.
Passes on party lines.
Passes on party lines.
Passes on party lines.
Resolution as amended passes on party lines.
We are adjourned.
RESOLUTION TO REDUCE CLASS SIZES TO C4E LAW LEVELS (actual class size language now stricken)
Whereas, reducing class size has proven to be one of the best ways to improve student learning, lower teacher attrition rates and disciplinary problems, and narrow achievement and opportunity gaps between racial and economic groups; and
Whereas, NYC schools continue to have the largest average class sizes in the state, and NY’s highest court said that our class sizes were too large in our schools to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education; and
Whereas, UFT contractual class size limits continue to be ignored by the DOE; and
Whereas, the DOE uses outlandish “action plans” to address these limits; and
Whereas, the NYC DOE recently reported class sizes have continued to increase this year; and
Whereas, Article 8L in the 2005 Contract called in part for a labor-management committee to discuss lowering class size if Campaign for Fiscal Equity Settlement funding was available; and
Whereas, the 2007 Contracts for Excellence (C4E) law, which settled the CFE case, required NYC to reduce class size in all grades; and
Whereas, the goals for class size in the city’s original C4E plan, approved by the state in the fall of 2007, are for an average of no more than 20 students per class in K-3, 23 in grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes; and
Whereas, the Department of Education has flouted this law flagrantly since 2007; and
Whereas, the DOE gets C4E funding that is often not used to reduce class size; be it therefore
Resolved, that the UFT will make lowering class sizes to the C4E limits of 20 students in a class K-3, 23 in Grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes a major goal; and be it further
Resolved, that funding for this class size reduction should not in any way affect monies for contractual raises for UFT members as the DOE is already receiving C4E money to reduce class sizes from the state.
Added: Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.