Camille and I attended the John Liu education town hall at the Flushing Public Library on Wednesday evening. Camille signed up to speak but we spent the beginning of the meeting looking for a parking space and then catching up with our friend Sam Lazarus so since we were late, she didn't get a chance even though she signed up. No big deal as there were United for Change activists who did speak including Norm Scott, Jia Lee, and Christina Gavin.
The topics of the town hall were the class size bill that overwhelmingly passed the State Assembly and Senate but still has not been signed by Governor Kathy Hochul and the budget cuts to New York City schools. Liu explained how the state is not cutting the money that was sent to the city schools. A couple of speakers did question the Senator on the renewal of mayoral control of the schools and the high school admission process that shuts so many students out of any of their choices. Students with disabilities not receiving mandated services was also raised.
The real news made at the meeting was when Liu said that he believed the Governor would soon sign the class size reduction bill. He noted how it passed the Senate by a vote of 59-4 and 147-2 in the State Assembly. Liu emphasized that courts had mandated lower class sizes so students in New York City could receive their sound basic education as required by the New York State Constitution.
Ever the skeptic, I will believe the law is going through when Hochul actually signs it (or the Legislature has the guts to override a pocket veto with their veto-proof margins). Even if lower class sizes in NYC become law, I won't be convinced this is real until class sizes are finally reduced to 20 (K-3), 23 (4-8), and 25 (HS) in every classroom in New York City except for phys ed and performing arts. (Many classs with students with disabilities should be even lower under current law.) I will concede that Hochul's signature would be a big step forward.
In case you are wondering, the official UFT did have a small presence at the town hall Wednesday evening.