Academically successful schools should be exempt from the unfunded NY State “Class Size” law. Why? Because the so-called “Class Size” law takes opportunities away from students by decreasing seats in the most in-demand schools such as popular gifted & talented, accelerated and advanced placement programs, specialized and performing arts schools, without adding any new seats! The law shrinks opportunities for kids to succeed and reach their potential.
Parents are asking NY Governor Kathy Hochul and Senate Chair of NYC Education John Liu to exempt high-performing successful schools and classrooms from the implementation of the disastrous unfunded $2B Class Size legislation. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) should instead be allowed to focus its limited resources to support students in high poverty, low performing schools that already meet the class size caps mandated by the new law, using more cost effective methods and tools to improve academic outcomes—instead of eliminating seats at schools in high demand.
The State should immediately amend the law to exempt the following classrooms and schools from the “Class Size” law: 1.) All Gifted & Talented classrooms and schools; 2.) All middle school classrooms in schools where more than 65% of students are grade level proficient or above in ELA and/or math; 3.) All high school classrooms in the nine Specialized High Schools and other high-performing schools where college readiness exceeds 90%: 4.) All Performing Arts and Talent Schools
If not, this law will take away opportunities for advanced learners, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds by reducing the number of classroom seats in G&T, accelerated and Advanced Placement (AP) programs, nine Specialized High Schools and at High Schools with college readiness exceeding 90%; reducing funding and availability of popular Advanced Placement (AP) and Elective classes and increasing the hiring of less experienced teachers in the face of an existing dire teacher shortage, which will negate any potential advantage to lower class sizes.
Popular, top performing schools have larger class sizes and homogeneous ability grouping in accelerated classrooms like G&T, academically screened middle schools and high schools and specialized high schools have better outcomes—despite large class sizes.
Like the proverbial hammer that thinks everything is a nail, the Class Size legislation, sponsored by New York State Senator John Liu and signed by Governor Kathy Hochul, presumes limiting class sizes is the only way to address the many challenges students and their families face such as learning loss caused by Covid school closures, persistently low academic performance in low income minority communities, chronic high absenteeism, school violence and plummeting enrollment.
While smaller class sizes like those of expensive private schools are understandably appealing, small class sizes on their own do not improve academic outcomes. And the law does not secure the funding to pay for the exorbitant $2B needed over an unknown time period to build new physical classrooms and schools. Our city is now facing a $40B budget gap and cuts due to the migrant crisis. There are even fewer funds today than when the legislation was signed.
A 2018 study shows that effective teaching has more impact on learning outcomes with a much lower cost than funding the Class Size law. The legislation handcuffs the Mayor and the School Chancellor from using other more cost effective methods to improve education outcomes.
We know families seek accelerated programs and high quality schools. And we know many families left NYC public schools due to the loss of such programs, even before the class size legislation. We must protect and expand such programs if we want to retain and attract families to NYC public schools, instead the DOE just announced a $21 million ad buy to convince parents to rely on public schools!
The Legislature must empower the DOE to exempt high-demand schools where students are out-performing academically despite the larger class sizes and instead focus their limited resources to already under-enrolled low performing schools and help students there to improve academic outcomes.
Maud Maron, Co-President, PLACE NYC (Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education) advocates for challenging and rigorous education for every public school student starting at elementary school to inspire classrooms of lifelong learners and to provide access and opportunity so students can achieve their full potential. Learn more about PLACE NYC.
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