This is from the NY Post:
The City Council announced a new bill Thursday that would lower Department of Education class sizes to protect against coronavirus transmission and bolster overall learning.
Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger and Council Speaker Corey Johnson want to raise the minimum per student space requirement from 20 square feet to 35 square feet in all grades over the next three years.
“The world has forever changed because of this pandemic and there’s no going back,” Treyger said in a statement. “We need to ensure our city’s building occupancy codes are up to date with modern science and public health data.”
Pre-K and kindergarten classes already adhere to the 35 square foot minimum, but Treyger said the standard should apply across the board.
To help make sure that public school classrooms remain safe places, we need stricter space limits for all students, not just the city’s youngest,” he said.
Officials said most city classrooms range in size from 500 to 750 square feet. The new guidelines would cap the number of kids in a 500-square-foot room at 14 and 21 for a 750 square-foot space.
City high schools had roughly 26 kids per class last year, according to DOE data.
The legislation would require all city schools to comply by September 2024.
Even if the bill passes over a mayoral veto, I find it very difficult to believe it could be enforced, particularly with a new mayor. Eric Adams or Curtis Sliwa hardly look like supporters of lower class sizes. Since the mayor controls the schools in NYC under current state law, which does sunset in 2022 and then must be renewed, I can see the mayor saying the new ordinance goes beyond the power of the City Council and this ordinance will be fought out in court for God knows how many years.
I still don't understand why the UFT can't demand lower class sizes in the one place where there are mechanisms to enforce it: the UFT contract. Some of the extra federal and state money the city has gotten should be used for lower class sizes and not be deducted from potential teacher raises in the next contract.
If anyone is interested in changing the schools fundamentally, look at Chicago where a reform group called CORE won an election to take over the teachers union in 2010 and there have been two teacher strikes since 2012. Chicago is where mayoral control was pioneered in the 1990s but today the Governor of Illinois signed a bill into law creating an elected school board for Chicago. Why does democracy exist in well over 90% of school districts in the country but not NYC? It's time for the people to run the schools.
Chicago Teachers Union Statement:
Elected school board is an historic achievement for Chicago's students, families and school communities
After more than 150 years of appointed boards of education in Chicago, the road to the city's first fully elected representative leadership has come to an end.
CHICAGO, July 29, 2021 — The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement in response to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature of House Bill 2908, creating an elected representative school board for Chicago Public Schools:
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature today of HB2908, the historic bill to create an elected representative school board for Chicago, caps a decades-long fight by parents, rank-and-file educators and community activists to provide our school district the same democratic rights afforded to every other district in the state of Illinois.
Students, families and educators will now have the voice they have long been denied for a quarter of a century by failed mayoral control of our schools. Chicago will finally have an elected board accountable to the people our schools serve, as it should be.
Our union is grateful to the grassroots movement that led with us in this fight. We owe special thanks to state representatives Kam Buckner and bill sponsor Delia Ramirez, Sen. Rob Martwick, Illinois Speaker Chris Welch and Senate President Don Harmon. All were instrumental in getting this landmark legislation to the governor’s desk.
We are also thinking tonight about our beloved President Emerita Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT. This victory is hers as much as it is a victory for our city. Here’s to you, Karen.