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Friday, August 1, 2008

C4E Redux: Manhattan

The present observer had thought that long exposure to NYC C4E hearings had dulled her to lofty sentiments arising therefrom, but last night’s hearings in Manhattan were unusually substantive and sometimes downright inspiring. Parents, teachers, and other citizens from across the borough seemed somehow to have managed to study the dense and extensive documents in the few allotted days and come forward with an unusually cogent and consistent critique, ringing various compelling changes on a few central themes. Debra Freeman, Irene Kaufman, and I read testimony on behalf of Class Size Matters, and submitted a list of forty reasons why the state should reject the city's Contract for Excellence proposal.

- There was a resounding endorsement of the idea that smaller class size is essential to improving educational outcomes in NYC; and that smaller classes cannot be achieved without more capital investment; and that the NYC C4E does not take the necessary steps to make smaller class size a reality;

- There was rejection, on several grounds, that CTT programs, though desirable and welcome in many respects, constitute a class size reduction regime; indeed, DOE’s approach to CTTs seems to be having the effect of increasing class size for many students;

- There was an argument that ELL students were not receiving their share of the funds that they were drawing in from the state;

- There was a call for greater transparency and more comprehensive reporting, and a claim that a failure specifically to account for the dispersal of C4E funds had led to supplantation of tax levy spending;

- The Leadership Academy and the Teacher Performance Pay initiative were challenged as neither new nor expanded programs qualifying for C4E funds;

- There was a call for more funds directed at special education programs.

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, City Council Education Chair Robert Jackson, Campaign for Fiscal Equity Executive Director Geri Palast, City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Gale Brewer, Douglas Israel, director of Research and Policy for the Center for Arts Education, UFT Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez, CB 7 Chair Helen Rosenthal, and many really well informed and well spoken parents and teachers gave terrific testimony, some of which we will make available to you below.

There is still, until August 27, time to submit testimony to DOE directly, by emailing Tell them how much class size means to you, and whether you think DOE is using vital C4E funds as they were meant to be used.

See this report on the Manhattan hearings, and articles on the hearings in Queens and Staten Island.

Here is testimony from Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Council Member Robert Jackson, Council Member Rosie Mendez, Luis O. Reyes, Josh Karan of CEC 6, Jennifer Freeman of CEC 3, Doug Israel of the Center for Arts Education, and John Elfrank-Dana, teacher at Murry Bergtraum HS.

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