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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Please help us fight for smaller classes in 2012!

Class sizes are increasing throughout the nation, and here in NYC, classes are larger in over a decade in many grades. This fall, there were over seven thousand classrooms which violated the union contractual levels. These sharp increases have occurred despite the fact that New York’s highest court had ruled that our students are deprived of their constitutional right to an adequate education, due in large part to excessive class sizes.

This is a worsening crisis that must be stopped.  Please make a tax-deductible donation today to help us fight this trend.

Adding insult to injury, over the past year, some of the richest and most powerful men in America – including Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg – have come out in favor of increasing class size, claiming that this would be good for our kids, while sending their own children to private schools where classes are capped at 17 or fewer.

More and more these men -- not the 1%, but the .00001% in terms of their wealth -- are controlling education policy and blithely ignoring what parents and teachers know and what research shows to be true: that smaller classes make a significant difference in providing children with the opportunities they need to succeed in school and later in life.

In fact, a new study showed that students who were in smaller classes in Kindergarten were more likely to graduate from college, own their own home and have a 401K3 more than twenty years later.  And yet this fall, as many NYC children are in Kindergarten classes of 26 or more -- violating the union contract -- than in classes of 20 or less -- which Bloomberg promised to achieve when he first ran for mayor.

Class Size Matters is working hard, every day, to counter the distortions and lies being spread by the oligarchs running our schools, and to see that the city does not continue to violate our children’s rights.  Please make a tax-deductible donation today to help us in this fight. We will be filing complaints on behalf of parents and asking for the state to hold hearings on the unconscionable increases in class size that have occurred. You can be sure we will not rest until NYC and the state comply with their moral – and legal – obligations to our children.

This fall, we have made presentations before many community education councils and other  groups, to draw attention to the worsening class size crisis, and to demonstrate the ways in which the city has misused state funds that should have gone towards reducing class size. As a result, six councils so far have passed resolutions protesting the increase in class size, the DOE received over 100 emails as part of the public comment process, and we have engaged countless parents and community members in the conversation about this critical issue.

Here are some of our other activities and accomplishments in 2011:
  • We helped start a new national organization, Parents Across America, to provide parents with critical information about the damaging corporate agenda, including school closings, privatization, and an overemphasis on high-stakes testing, imposed against the will of parents and community members, and to promote positive and progressive change. PAA already has more than 12 chapters and affiliates nationwide.
  • In response to a report we had co-authored, the State Comptroller released an audit in March showing that NYC had significantly underreported its dropout rate,with 15 to 20 percent of students  categorized as  “discharged” instead. As a result, the City Council passed a law that for the first time will require the DOE to release detailed reporting on the thousands of students who disappear off school registers each year without a diploma, but who are not counted as dropouts.
  • In July, we filed a lawsuit against the city’s provision of free space to charter schools inside public school buildings – which causes yet more overcrowding and which we believe violates state law. Though we have not yet received a ruling, we are hopeful that the court will decide to protect the rights of public school children, so that they are no longer squeezed and pushed aside in their own buildings.·
  • We spearheaded a successful campaign to persuade the NY State Comptroller to block a no-bid contract to Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation that could have jeopardized confidential student information.
  • We pushed for a new law, passed by the City Council this fall, that will require improved reporting on school overcrowding, including whether students have access to art rooms, science labs, and space for their mandated services, as well as gymnasiums and auditoriums.·
We continue to operate two of the city’s largest electronic education list services, with more than 4000 subscribers combined. We also post regular news and commentary from parents on the NYC Public School Parents blog, which has received nearly one million hits since 2009.

In 2011, Class Size Matters was quoted more than 100 times, including in the NY Times, Daily News, NY Post, Wall St. Journal, Education Week, metro, AM-NY, El Diario, Los Angeles Times, DNA-info, Daily Kos, Business Week, Gotham Gazette, and GothamSchools, as well as interviewed on CNN, Fox-News, MSNBC, NY1, WCBS-TV , Channel 7 News, WPIX-TV, China Radio International, and numerous national and local public radio shows.

But continuing to fight for smaller classes remains our primary mission and focus. While the NY State Legislature passed a law in 2007 requiring the city to reduce class size in all grades in return for receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in additional state aid, the city has ignored its commitments to our children.

Please join our campaign for smaller classes, to help ensure that NYC children someday soon receive the help and attention that they deserve.

Just click here, to make a tax-deductible donation. For a contribution of $100 or more, enjoy a complimentary 11-oz Class Size Matters mug.  Happy New Year and thanks!

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