PS 116 in Manhattan -- we have 6 Kindergarten classes over the contract limit of 25 students. Our school is operating at 120% of capacity and common space is so tight our lunch schedule begins at 10:30
The annual class-size survey from the United Federation of Teachers cited numerous instances of school crowding, which means more students per teacher, as well as more students packed into classrooms and in the hallways. Do you see overcrowding at your school? How is your school's physical plant suited for the number of students?
PS 116 in Manhattan -- we have 6 Kindergarten classes over the contract limit of 25 students. Our school is operating at 120% of capacity and common space is so tight our lunch schedule begins at 10:30
Check with the Fire Department, the Department of Buildings and the NY State Education Department: they have occupancy rules for schools. Then post the results here and take them to your SLT, the DOE, your City Council Rep, your State Representatives, your U.S. Senator and your Member of Congress. SEriously.
Parents need to complain for something to be done. Lunch starting at 10:30 am is preposterous since that when most children are really active. By the time it is 1pm they are exhausted and need rest.
The reality is that Bloomberg promised when he first ran for office he would reduce class size in grades K-3 to 20 or less; and the DOE has taken more than $2 billion in additional aid from the state since 2007 in return for a promise to reduce class sizes in all grades. Instead class sizes have risen sharply and in the early grades are the largest in eleven years. The DOE has wasted billions on consultants, contracts, bureaucracy etc. while eliminating over 7,000 teachers over the past few years, despite rising enrollment. There is money in the overall DOE budget to reduce class size but school budgets have now been cut for five years in a row. Even the best teachers cannot do their best in class sizes so large. The mayor asked for control so that the buck should stop with him. Clearly, it is his responsibility and he has tragically failed our children.
If the goal of SchoolBook is to really initiate a dialog about education issues then you've got to break the cycle of reporting these red herrings like class size or teacher quality as though they are breaking news.
You're too sophisticated, and let's assume your readership is well, to take the DoE or UFT comments at face value. These are complex issues without easy answers and you're really falling well short of our stated goals if all you can do is repeat mulgrew decying that kids have to eat lunch at 10 am.
Of course that's a shame, but many of the proposed solutions are costly. Some will say "just tax the billionaires more," but are smart readers to really think that after increasing the DoE budget from $14 to $21 billion in the last seven years, that money is our biggest challenge?
It's 9:30, actually. 1st graders at PS 69 in Corona/Jackson Heights are eating lunch at 9:30 am.
Apparently, the reporters are not too sophisticated to simply report the party line and stock answers from DOE and UFT.
No NYC publication has undertaken a serious examination of "kindergarten is the new first grade," where 4-year-olds are pressured to do 5-11 pages of homework a night plus 20 minutes of reading and sit in desks all day getting lectures -- then get a "recess" that requires them to sit in the auditorium watching SpongeBob...and books will be confiscated! Parents are prohibited from volunteering and leading activities during recess!
They just laugh when I bring it up - I guess they don't believe it. I, too, found it unbelievable when I encountered it.
@Matthew Levy: The I-don't-like-unions lens is much too narrow to apply here, and, let's be honest, a red herring of its own. I also resent your implication that your interpretation is the "smart" one, but that any other isn't smart. So let's cut to the reality rather than waste time sorting out who is smart here and who isn't: more money equals more brick-and-mortar schools, more teachers, reduced classroom sizes, reduced incidents of discipline, more time for focusing in depth on a particular subject, healthier school food, updated textbooks, art, drama, and music classes, foreign language classes, etc., i.e. all the things that lead to an intellectualized society. Ergo, of course the billionaires should be taxed more to pay for these things and more. They made their money by putting wear and tear on the infrastructure, requiring monies to be devoted to that wear and tear that could instead be used for education. The bill is overdue. At least, that's what smart readers think. (wink)
My point was not that marginal tax rates could not be raised. It's that there are no 'simple' solutions.
If you spend a lot of money to launch a new website that claims to be a new way to inform parents about schools, doesn't it make sense that the conversation might be a bit deeper or more thoughtful than the usual "he said, she said."
Your belief that once we prise the billionaires' wallets open a bit wider we enter into a land of milk and honey assumes (in part) the existence of a pool of experienced and effective teachers who are not currently employed. Not just warm bodies, but teachers who are at least as good as the ones we have now.
Otherwise, might i not prefer my child to stay in a more crowded class with the effective teacher than to be shunted off into a new class with one who is not?
Winking right back at you.
From what I can tell, the education reporters in this town have 0 interest in looking into what's good for children - you know, looking at the psychological, developmental and educational research. As with the presidential campaigns and national news, they're only interested in the horse race. "Who will win - the unions or DOE?"
Why can't these people of letters, for example, just once question the new plan to promote literacy by de-emphasizing fiction books, or probe beyond the excuse that "we don't have money for school libraries" by noting that school libraries have been turned over to test prep?
Last Spring, I watched 8 men planting 5 bushes in the landscaping area leading up to the Queensboro Bridge. One of these men was apparently the supervisor; his job appeared to be standing around and watching the others work.
If we can afford 8 men to take care 5 bushes, we can afford 1 teacher to take care of every 22 elementary children.
I think that the fact that becoming a teacher requires slightly more education and intelligence might have something to do with this.
I don't see the point. A Kindergarten student suffers from being one of 29 kids assigned to 1 teacher, no matter how much education and intelligence.
And I'll bet you that those union bush-planters and supervisors are paid a lot more than teachers anyway.
I teach HS English in NYC. None of my classes are over the legal limit. Class size is capped at 34, and I have two classes of 34 and three ranging from 29 to 31. However, I would say that all of my classes have about 10 students too many. The room is packed, and in some cases I have three students squeezing in to sit at tables meant for 2, or seated at the ends of tables. There is no room to allow students to move around, to engage in kinesthetic learning. There is little room for me to circulate through my class. I find it hard to give all of my students the attention they need. When I started teaching my classes had approximately 22 students. Now every class is like a class and a half. Yes, CLASS SIZE MATTERS!
Abbey, I'm in a very simiar situation. I teach in a "small" Queens high school. My 2 12th grade ELA classes (expected to be run as AP Literature classes) have 34 kids in each. I have students with all different skill sets and an extremely rigorous curriculum. Students don't have space to work as there are 5 kids at some tables and I don't have enough resources to provide for all of them. What's worse is that I can't offer alot of them the 1 on 1 or even small group instruction I would like because there just isn't enough time or space to do it.
I have offered office hours prior to school's starting, but the slots fill up quickly and I feel like I'm still not servicing kids enough.
When I worked in the suburbs, my large classes were 25 kids. I think this is a much more effective model. The ideal class size, would be no more than 20 kids with at least an hour of teaching time. This way they have time to work on projects with me there to help.
As you said, Class size does matter and the more kids we fill into a space, the more likely some will fall through the cracks. As teachers, we do the best we can, but there is only so much time.
Only in the reform world of CEOs and political cronies would something like class size not matter. This is not just a New York City issue this is national issue. All across the nation class sizes have been increasing. NCLB allocated One Trillion dollars for new standards and new assessments.
That money train is just about gone,. What do we have to show for it? The national 17 year-olds reading scores are lower then they were pre-NCLB.
Our SAT scores are the lowest in 31 years, (http://www.washingtonpost.com...).
These reformers cheery pick their data, and always avoid the end result data trends.
Only a fool would want to stay the course with this kind of data. What are our so-call reformers planning continuing down the same road. DC is working new assessments and standards once again. Lets face the music spending hundreds of billions of dollars has not worked.
This is what happens when your experts disregard the opinions of parents, teachers, and students. In medical intervention models you talk to patients, you talk to care givers about the interventions you are using.
Survey NYC parents. Ask parents if class size matters. Only reformers with children in non public schools would think class size doesn't matter, and only in America could we spend a trillion dollars on reforms with little or no data to indicate they are working.
Children Are More Than Test Scores
Part of the problem is that nobody cares about CURRICULUM.
Even if we solve class size and school overcrowding problems, obey the law on gym and library mandates, restore developmentally practice including kindergarten play time and wrap up the real estate fight over Charters...
We'll still be stuck with "Invented Spelling," "Teachers College Literacy," "Spiralled Math," "Family Math," "Everyday Math," "History, Civics and Physics Don't Matter" and "Teach Handwriting Before Children Have the Necessary Fine Motor Skills."
We're facing the same problem here in NJ higher-ed. It's bad, but our union just says that class size is an administrative prerogative. My school is also built like a prison and I fear that if we all have to make a quick exit from the room, then a majority of us will chaotically rush for the door and no one will get out. Yes, I agree with Vicki Zunitch, when she says that this is a Triangle Shirt Factory situation.
While my classes are not officially overcrowded, all of my classes are now at the union negotiated maximum - 34 students per class (this is at the high school level, in a demanding, college preparatory public school). As an English teacher, it is particularly challenging to grade this number of students in a timely manner and to give students the thorough feedback they need and deserve. The increased number of students makes this even more difficult, perhaps next to impossible.
I listened to the discussion this morning. As the United Federation of Teachers chapter leader in a large NYC public high school I'd like to clarify a couple of things. It is possible for the chapter leader to learn the exact number of oversized classes in his or her school. The UFT asks us to gather this information on the first, 6th, and 10th day of the school year. If there are remaining oversized classes by the 10th school day, then we go to arbitration. This is the only grievance that the chapter leader may file on behalf of the school. This right was negotiated so that no individual teacher could be harassed for reporting a class size violation.
The five boroughs of New York City are the only counties in New York State which have class sizes capped at such large numbers. The numbers vary by school level and type of class. Academic classes in a high school are capped at 34 for instance, but at 28 in the rest of the state. Since high school teachers normally teach five classes, the difference in their work load is 30 extra students, and that's if the school is in compliance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
We have 1.1 million school children to serve. Their numbers are not going down. The UFT recently won a fight to save the jobs of thousands of teachers, thereby making reasonable class sizes possible. The beauty, but also the challenge of teaching in New York City, is the tremendous economic and cultural diversity of our population. If we are to do the job that we want to do, if we are to give back to this generation the kind of quality education that many of us received in public schools, then it is imperative that we work to lower class size. That many positions lost through attrition are not being replaced - there is a hiring freeze in most licensing areas - means that it will be increasingly hard to keep class sizes within the contractual limits.
at the G&T NEST+m (LES, Citywide School); nearly all the lower school classes have 26 - 29 students. 25 is the number parents think of as past history. The issue isnt even the reality that money is tight, or that the classes will continue to be even bigger. The issue is that the city continues to make it worthwhile for principals to hire ONLY the least experienced teachers, who have little or no classroom management skills. It is not possible to keep good teachers, with the money and pay as the only argument that the NYC/DOE seems able to make. At NEST+m, for example, the principal hires 'teachers' who have never been in any classroom anywhere other than their mandated student teaching (which only means helping out with a senior teacher); then, these young or inexperienced persons are left to figure out a challenging curriculum with little or no real support or supervision. To anyonewho would say that Class Size does NOT Matter, I would counter with, all good educators know differently, but at LEAST the oversized classes can have solid educators within them, helping get our students through these difficult fiscal times... alas, that is not how it looks here.
My 3rd grade student in Brooklyn wrote the following letter to Mayor Bloomberg:
Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
If you put 60 kids in a classroom, the class size won't have room for books or any other supplies. If the school is on fire, none of the students or teachers can get out. If there is only one or two teachers, how can they control the class? The bathrooms will always be filled and even if you really have to go you can't. School life will be very hard to manage. The students would only have at least two minutes for the teacher to conference with them. The lunch room may run out of lunch. The noise level will be uncontrollable. Students might have to eat outside or on the ground. If 60 kids all have their own ideas to share, only 5 might be able to share. If only a few or zero kids share, it won't be democratic.
What's going to happen when a 4-year-old panics in a smoke condition? Does the lone Kindergarten teacher run after him, or sacrifice him to the fire and lead her other 28 students to safety?
NYC kindergarten is a Triangle Shirtwaist waiting to happen.
In our local school: 26-29 K children and 1 teacher -- a total of 4 of these classes -- on the second floor of a 700-student school (which was built for about 400 children).
Overcrowded ? It seems an obvious question .. along with the cutbacks across our city's schools, it would be impossible to imagine that Principals HADN'T figured out how to squeeze the maximum number of students into the classrooms. At the citywide G&T NEST+m, classes in elementary classes are between 26 and 29... and there really isnt much anyone is either willing or able to do about that. In many of the elementary schools I have asked fellow parents, they tell a similar tale.
One thing that SOME schools offer, if the principal and pta organizations work well together, teacher assistants in the lower grades (K - 3)can be hired. This can be a great supplemental way of dealing with the overcrowding, adding possibility for some real teamwork to the monumental task of covering all the necessary work, while attending to all the various needs of so many different students. Regardless of program or school, all our kids in NYC deserve better than being so squished together at tables, in rooms meant for perhaps ten students less, and without any possible way a student can receive much in the way of individualized instruction that can help her/him reach potential.
I teach AP World History in Miami and in the beginning of the year I had 54 Freshmen in my 8th period class. Despite a twice voter approved class size amendment of 25 students, the Florida legislature under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott amended the amendment to exclude 2/3 of classes including Advanced Placement and IB classrooms. After having a story run in the Miami Herald about my situation, the class was reduced to 38 students by placing the other students in my classes that were only 25. I still have a teaching load of 190 AP students with no extra pay when it would have been capped at 150 under the law. Many students are being placed in Advanced Placement classrooms who don't want to be there because there is no cap on the class size. I encourage all students to take Advanced Placement courses, but a student shouldn't be forced to take an AP course and on top of that be put in an overcrowded classroom.
And yet the nun in my 1960 Catholic school class was able to teach 44 students and do it better than local public schools with so-called professional teachers.
Can you explain that?
Prove that the nun did it better. Did she have 5 "mainstreamed" kids with no teacher's aide, or were those kids warehoused in a "special school"? Did she foster intellectual independence? Did she identify all of the kids with dyslexia and teach them in a manner in which they were able to learn? Did she notice the frequent black eyes and bruises on a particular child and realize they were being abused at home?
Pal Vigo, your rant is sure proof that this nun failed to teach you. I hope you got an F in her class.
Thank you for explaining that, Paula. We also have a section on Schoolbook about the contractual limits. It's in one of our guides (see the left side of the screen). http://www.nytimes.com/school...
Do you have a section on SchoolBook about the number of square feet required per child according to building and fire-safety codes?
It would also be informative to see the recommendations for adult:child ratios in early-childhood centers, including independent kindergartens, day camps and day care (7:1) as opposed to the class size limits for same-age public school kindergarten classes (as high as 29:1).
We also need to hear about the research concerning class size and effective education at various age levels.
My children have attended two different public schools in Queens. I found both of them to be excellent. However, due to a rise in attendance, the science teacher no longer has her own classroom. Her science gear is on a cart and she's travelling from room to room. We are always hearing about the importance of math and science education. It's unfortunate that the science teacher no longer has her own room.
I went to Davis Elementary School in New Rochelle, New York in 1974 to 1975...As a matter of fact, every class I had before and after those years consisted of no less than 30 to 35 students per class...Teachers had no problem dealing with or teaching us because we were not inner city skin wasters and we had respect for the teachers and other faculty...Allow proper and stern discipline to be given at home and in school...Drop the liberal self esteem building and smack a kid like they need...The kids that do not respond need to be taught how to properly dig a ditch or wash a dish...Quit wasting time,effort and money on kids not worth educating beyond the basic skills needed...The average newspaper writes to a 3rd grade reading level anyway...Dropping the human anchors will allow the truly gifted and intelligent children the education they deserve....
I can't attest to other schools but I am proud that my child is in a school with a great, and caring principal and team who value great education. What they're given to work with is insufficient. I'm glad the teachers have a union that protects their needs to have a cut-off on how many kids per class. I'm glad that we live in one of the greatest cities in the world. How is it possible that there is so much money for so much big business but education and our kids futures are squeezed? Who's looking into the children's best interest or safety other than their parents who have little to no control over what's going on at these schools and less over the DOE?
If the union really cares, it would build consequences into the contract so that if class size exceeds the contracted limit, the city would suffer penalties. When my child's Kindergarten class exceeded the limit and went to 29 children with 1 teacher, the union told me, "Oh, we write this down and use it in the next contract negotiation." What, to win themselves more pay? How about our kids? How about negotiating for our kids so that if the city exceeds class size, it has to pay a fine.
Instead, the teachers currently curry favor with the principals by not opposing large classes too strenuously so they can earn a slice of that bonus money the principal gets each year. It hasn't been reported on annually the way Wall Street's bonuses are reported on, but it exists and hurts our kids.
The DOE keeps responding with the old canard about class size being unimportant. But I really doubt that there is a study of any kind out there stating that it's perfectly all right to have 32 kids in class in 4th and 5th grade, and 34 in AP classes in high school. It's easy for Bloomberg to say, with grown kids who went to private schools in classes of 18 or less.
Budget cuts to schools plus enrollment growth combined with many schools running out of classroom space have led to sharply rising class sizes, especially in elementary grades. And we are actually projected to lose 2570 additional gened teachers next year to attrition, according to the City Council analysis.
In many classrooms it's impossible to walk around. First, they installed furniture for cooperative learning in the 90's which are large, irregularly shaped and therefore take up more space. Now, they cram 32 kids in a room that was designed for small nailed to the floor wooden desks with fold up seats....inkwell included. Who plans this stuff?
Where are all the teachers that can be effective in large classes? Bloomberg did not pay enough attention to recruiting new teachers and (re)training existing teachers who could function effectively with large class size. Also, small class sizes do not guarantee a quality education. You have a better shot at it because you will have fewer disciplinary issues.
"Instead, the teachers currently curry favor with the principals by not opposing large classes too strenuously so they can earn a slice of that bonus money the principal gets each year. It hasn't been reported on annually the way Wall Street's bonuses are reported on, but it exists and hurts our kids."
Where is your evidence for this? I teach in NYC public schools and have never received, nor known any teacher who has received a bonus. You ask a lot of why questions in your posts...why don't you do some research instead of basing all of your testimony on your child's 29 student kindergarten class. The DOE is a bureaucratic nightmare and teachers aren't "currying favor" with their principals, we just know the reality of how the system works in this city, and we have lots more to do than worry about how to reduce our class sizes by 3 kids. We have to teach them so people like you can complain about how our teacher ratings are not high enough, and how we aren't "adding value" to our schools. Please. Call your legislator instead of peddling your rhetorical questions to the choir.
Bloomberg complains that he has to pay teachers in the ATR pool, but they are teachers that he put there by "closing" schools (actually, he just renames them and puts a Leadership Academy principal in charge and hires a cheaper staff). The idea that being an ATR means you are somehow "ineffective" is a belief only held by people who are ill informed. Teachers end up in the ATR pool when their school is "closed" or their position is lost to budget cuts. Not a single teacher is placed in the ATR pool for doing a bad job. Are there bad teachers in the pool? There are bound to be, but probably not at a higher rate than those actually serving in regular positions. Many of these teachers are veterans who command a higher salary and are more likely to stand up for their rights and those of their students. Most principals would rather hire a brand new teacher who earns far less money, is not tenured, and is much more likely to ask "How high?" when commanded to jump than to hire a veteran who will eat up a bigger chunk of their budget and be more apt to have his or her own ideas on what is best for the students. Instead of paying these ATRs to do sub work, why not use them to alleviate class size issues. They are paying them anyway, why not make them earn their checks and utilize their talents at the same time? Bloomberg is cutting off his nose to spite his face on this issue. The DOE's suggestion that the UFT allow them to stop paying ATRs is ludicrous. If they had that power, they would "close" every school in the city, make every teacher an ATR, and only hire back the cheaper ones. They are seeking to turn teaching into a temp job. At a time when they need more quality teachers, they are doing everything possible to drive people away from the profession. Who would choose this as a profession now? Surely not the "best and the brightest" they claim to covet. The truth is, they don't care about teacher quality. They only care about teacher cost. They view it as a business. Public schools educate the poor and middle class, and have an overwhelming majority of "minority" students. These "reformers", talking heads, and education profiteers don't care about these people. They don't care. Taxing billionaires is not the issue. The DOE budget may have risen, but the classroom is not receiving those dollars, upper management positions and consultants are. Classroom supplies are scarce, but there are plenty od deputy chancellors. Go figure.
From the beginning when Bloomberg was being reelected I thought that it was a horrible idea. Adding more school into schools that are already over crowded was not the way to solve the problems at hand. There should be less students than 16 in a classroom per teacher, so help can be evenly distributed to each student. As a college student I know how it feels to be in an over sized class and just feeling like a number instead of as an individual. Our government focus more on different tacts they can use to take money out of our pockets more than focusing more on how to help our "Future Leaders". America's education system is crashing and if we do not find a way soon it will be the end of us
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