Sunday, June 16, 2019

Disappointing budget as far as our public schools and class size are concerned

Some  news links: NY Times, NY Post, NY Daily News, Chalkbeat and Brooklyn Eagle

The new NYC budget deal was announced between the Mayor and the City Council on Friday.

In terms of our public schools, it included $41M more to hire about 200 new social workers for schools, especially those with lots of homeless kids and $857,000 for seven additional Title IX Coordinators to handle complaints of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.  The budget will also put $250M into an overall city budget reserve to be used during economic downturns that now totals $6 billion. 

The education budget will  include  another $25 million  for the Mayor’s top education priority: 3K expansion into 14 new districts, bringing the cost to around $100M.  If the pattern of previous years holds, the DOE will continue to draw kids out of existing preK centers run by Community Based Organizations  and pushing them into already overcrowded public schools, which in turn will contribute to higher class sizes for kids in grades K-5.
What the education budget doesn't include: any increase in Fair student funding (with many schools are currently at only 90%), no dedicated funding for class size reduction, and no amount to achieve CBO pay parity for preK teachers -- though the Council says they got a commitment from the Mayor to address this disparity though negotiations by the end of the summer.

The only elementary school initiative that I know of is the 2nd grade literacy coach program in high needs schools, which is  now in its third year, funding 242 coaches in 305 elementary schools, according to the DOE website.  The program is supposed to produce two-thirds of students reading on grade level by the end of second grade by 2022, and 100 percent of all second graders reading at grade level by 2026 (long after de Blasio has left office.)

Yet the first year of the program showed no positive impact and the administration has not yet released data from either its second or third year - which suggests it may have had disappointing results as I predicted. Though the news of the budget deal didn't mention this, it is likely that the initiative will continue to be funded next year at the level in the Mayor's executive budget of about $90 million per year.  (There are job listings for this position here.)

In any case we aren't giving up on our campaign to reduce class sizes.  More counselors are great but there this will do little to improve achievement in grades K-5 where class sizes in many schools are still sky high. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

NYC Parents, kids, advocates, union members and elected officials rally for smaller classes

For Immediate release: June 11, 2019
Contact: Leonie Haimson,; 917-435-9329

NYC Parents, kids, advocates, union members and elected officials rally for smaller classes

On Tuesday June 11 at noon, more than one hundred parents, students, advocates, elected officials and union members gathered on the steps of City Hall to urge the NYC Department of Education and the Mayor to allocate specific funding in next year's budget towards reducing class size.

The rally was co-sponsored by Class Size Matters, NYC Kids PAC, the UFT, Local 372, the Education Council Consortium, and others.  Among the elected officials who spoke eloquently about the need for the Mayor and Chancellor to reduce class size were Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Education Chair Mark Treyger, Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, and Council Members Adrienne Adams, Inez Barron, Barry Grodenchik, and Brad Lander.  

Even though the state’s highest court concluded in 2003 that NYC public school classes were too large to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education, class sizes have actually increased since then, especially in the early grades, where the research is strongest that smaller classes leads to higher achievement and better student outcomes all the way through college and beyond.

Among the other speakers on behalf of the need to fund for smaller classes were Kenneth Cohe,n Regional Director of the NAACP, Maria Bautista of AQE, Benny Lin of the Parent-Child Relationship Association, Eduardo Hernandez of NYC Kids PAC, Shino Tanikawa, co-chair of the Education Council Consortium, Anthony Harmon of the UFT, Donald Nesbit of Local 372 of DC 37,  and Lina Rosario, a 6th grade student in Sunset Park, Kathy Park of Citizen Squirrel and many others.

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, said: “The mayor and the chancellor talk a lot about bringing equity and excellence to NYC schools and some the moves they are making may bring us closer to that goal. But there’s a huge gaping hole in their agenda and that is class size.  Without lowering class sizes there can be neither true equity or excellence in our schools. This fall, more than 330,000 NYC students were crammed into classes of 30 or more.   NYC class sizes are 10-30% larger on average than in the rest of the state.  Classes this large are neither equitable nor excellent, especially as studies show that students of color gain twice the benefit when class sizes are reduced.”

 “Funding for class-size reduction has to become a priority for New York City. Parents and teachers know it has a huge impact on student learning, especially for our most vulnerable populations,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

"Class size reduction is one support that the New York City Department of Education has never fully implemented for students in NYC public schools," said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst).  "It only makes sense that when there are fewer students in a class, a teacher can individualize their instruction and give students extra support.  More than anything else, this is what our students need.  If we truly want to see our students succeed, we must reduce our class sizes."

“It’s common sense that smaller class sizes help set New York City students up for success,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Funding must be allocated for this important cause—the time to stand up for our students is now.”
 “We urge the Mayor and the City Council to support parents, educators and the community at large by funding smaller class sizes.  Smaller classes have been proven to increase test scores and lowers the need for special education classes” stated Local 372 President Shaun D. Francois I.  “All our children deserve to have access to a sound basic education.  Fund smaller class sizes now.”

 “Many studies have indicated that smaller class sizes lead to better academic outcomes for students. School overcrowding and large class sizes have been a known problem in our school system for far too long. This is a basic equity issue for our students—classes that are too large make it impossible for teachers to provide differentiated instruction and individualized attention, which children need to do their best. I urge Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to meet the mandates outlined under the CFE decision, and make a serious commitment to reducing class sizes,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.

Shino Tanikawa, co-chair of the Educational Council Consortium, which represents the parent-led Community District and Citywide Councils, said: “Reducing class size is always number one or number two among parent priorities on the Learning Environment Survey that DOE gives every year.  And yet every year, the issue is ignored by the city in terms of its funding priorities.  It is time for our elected officials to step up to the plate, and deliver for NYC children.”
"We know that smaller class sizes benefit many of our students -- indeed, the NYS Supreme Court determined well over a decade ago that NYC public school classes were too large to give our children the education to which they are entitled. We also know that parents consistently place reducing class size among their top priorities on NYC Dept of Education surveys. It's time to act -- we need to ensure that smaller classes are available for all of our children," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).

“As the only NYC political action committee focused solely on the improvement of public schools, NYC Kids PAC looks hard at the record of candidates when it comes to lowering class size,” explained Naila Rosario, President of NYC Kids PAC.  “Progress must be made on this issue, which has not gotten the attention it deserves from either the Mayor or Chancellor.  Expanding Pre-K and providing 3K is fine, but as parents know,  kids need more help once they turn five and more feedback and support from their teachers.  This is impossible in too many schools right now because class sizes are too large. The number of students in the early grades in classes of 30 or more has increased by nearly 3000% since 2007.”

“Ensuring that our kids get the best quality education possible should be a topline priority this budget session and every budget session,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “Every student in New York City deserves access to an excellent public school education. Yet in schools that experience overcrowding, teachers are stretched thin and students cannot receive the personalized attention necessary to foster their educational and emotional wellbeing.  I am proud to support Class Size Matters in advocating for smaller class sizes which have been proven successful at increasing student achievement and help to narrow the opportunity gap.”

“When it comes to New York City public schools, something has to change in a very foundational way,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “We need specific funding allocated toward reducing class size as it has an effect on the ability to retain effective teachers, student engagement and overall student success. Reducing class size is the right thing to do for our students and we cannot make excuses when it comes to their future.”
 “New York State made it clear in 2003 that New York City’s class sizes were too large to provide students with the proper attention and resources they need to learn- a violation of their constitutional right. Since then the City’s public school class sizes have not shrunk- they have become larger; which leads me to believe the problem has only grown. I am proud to stand with Class Size Matters, UFT, my colleagues at City Council, and all of today’s local partners and parents to support allocating funding aimed at decreasing the student-to-teacher ratio,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen (Bronx, District 11).

Maria Bautista, Campaign Director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said:  “Parents know that class sizes are too large in NYC public schools for students to get the attention they need.  Research shows that Black and Latino students gain the greatest benefit from smaller classes in terms of achievement, engagement, graduating from high school and attending college.  It’s time that NYC ensured that our students receive the smaller classes they need for their best chance at success.”

 “Why is this administration singularly focused on birth to five to the detriment of all other learners? The biggest risk to our Pre-K students occurs when they enter grades K-3, where too often they’re expected to learn in classes of 30 or more. Yet the DOE insists on pushing more and more Pre-K and now 3K kids into elementary schools that are already overcrowded, which causes our CBO enrollment to drop and threatens our viability.  We implore Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Education to reduce class size in grades K-3 by shifting more Pre-K and 3K students back to CBOs. It would the right thing to do and a win-win for all,” said Brooklyn Pre-K director Alice Mulligan on behalf of CBOs for Equity.

As Diane Ravitch, education historian and President of the Network for Public Education concluded, “Reducing class size is the single most effective school reform. Wealthy parents pay large sums for small classes. We owe small class size to all children.”   


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Has your child been recess-punished? If so please get in touch with William Doyle

I'm preparing an independent public report on New York public school children who have had recess taken away for academic or behavior reasons, and an appeal that it be stopped. The practice is prohibited "for any reason" by written NYC DOE policy, and condemned by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but it appears to be widespread in our schools. CEC 1 just passed a resolution against recess-punishment.
If this has happened to your child, please email me at
No names necessary, just basic details, like where the school is, what grades, your opinion, what actions you took, etc. Thanks!
Who I am: a NYC public school dad whose child has experienced recess-punishment, and co-author of a pro-play book coming out soon from Oxford University Press, LET THE CHILDREN PLAY.

US Department of Education finds Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy repeatedly violated a child’s privacy according to FERPA

The Daily News covered this story and reported that Eva Moskowitz plans to appeal the US Department of Education's decision.  The story was also reported in Education Week and PoliticoWBAI evening news interviewed me about this as well; start at 9 min. 30 seconds in.

For immediate release: June 4, 2019
For more information contact Leonie Haimson,; 917-435-9329.

US Department of Education finds Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy repeatedly violated a child’s privacy according to FERPA

On Monday, June 2, 2019, Fatima Geidi finally received a response to a FERPA complaint she filed more than three and half years ago with the US Department of Education. The Privacy Office of the Department of Education found that her FERPA complaint against Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy charter schools was justified and that they had indeed repeatedly violated her son’s privacy rights.  The official findings letter to Ms. Moskowitz, dated May 31, 2019, is here.

On October 31, 2015, Ms. Geidi filed a complaint detailing how Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy charter schools, had revealed details of her son’s disciplinary records to the media and on her website.  Ms. Moskowitz made these disclosures in order to retaliate against Ms. Geidi and her son after they had appeared on the PBS News Hour to report how he had been repeatedly suspended at one of her schools.  Her original FERPA complaint is posted here.

Yet the US Department of Education waited more than two years to even launch an investigation into her complaint.  In the meantime, Ms. Moskowitz included many of the same exaggerated charges against Ms. Geidi’s son on several pages of her memoir, The Education of Eva Moskowitz, that was published in September 2017.   When Ms. Geidi noticed these passages in a bookstore, she filed a second FERPA complaint on December 20, 2017.

Last week, the US Department of Education refused to accept the weak rationalizations offered by the Success Academy legal staff about these disclosures and found that in both cases, they were flagrant violations of FERPA.

Yet in order to address these violations, Frank Miller, Deputy Director of the Student Privacy Policy Office, wrote that Success Academy must merely ensure that  “school officials have or will receive training on the requirements of FERPA as they relate to the issues in this complaint.”  He refrained from imposing any penalties or demanding that the offending passages be deleted from Eva Moskowitz’ book – a book  that is still for sale on Amazon and in bookstores all across the United States.

As Fatima Geidi said, “While I am glad that the US Department of Education agreed that Ms. Moskowitz and Success Academy repeatedly violated my child’s privacy by disclosing trumped-up details of his education records to the media, on the Success website and in her book, I am furious that they failed to fine her, or at the very least, demand that she take the offending passages out of her book. Because the Department of Education waited over two years to respond to my initial FERPA complaint,  Eva Moskowitz illegally put the same information (false by the way) about my child in a book where it may remain forever.  This is unacceptable, and I demand that the illegal passages from the book be deleted.”

Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, said, “Ms. Moskowitz and Success Academy have repeatedly violated FERPA in order to retaliate against parents who dare reveal how she abuses children and pushes them out of her charter schools.  These illegal disclosures happened again just last month, in the case of Lisa Vasquez and her daughter, as reported in a Chalkbeat article.  On May 9, 2019, Ms. Vasquez filed a FERPA complaint with the US Department of Education and the NY State Education Chief Privacy Officer.   Her FERPA complaint is posted on our blog, where we point to other privacy violations by Success charter schools. Simply asking for Success staff to receive privacy training  will likely prove no real deterrence to Eva Moskowitz.  Instead she and her staff will likely continue to flagrantly violate their students’ privacy with impunity in the future.” 

The  US Department of Education has provided more than $37 million in discretionary grants to Success Academy since 2010, including nearly $10 million awarded in April 2019.  Its officials should be required to explain why they chose not to withhold any federal funds from her schools, and worse, will allow the offending passages in Ms. Moskowitz’ book to remain in perpetuity. The unacceptable delay of more than three and a half years in responding to Ms. Geidi’s initial complaint and the lack of an meaningful response by the Department provides further evidence as to why parents should be able to sue for damages under FERPA when their children’s right to privacy has been violated.