Friday, May 31, 2024

Amanda Vender, Queens parent and teacher, critiques the vagueness of the DOE class size plan & their intention to expand online learning.

Here is another comment from last night's Queens hearing on the DOE's class size plan, pointing out how vague it is, this one provided by Amanda Vender, Queens parent and teacher.  This critique was echoed by many of the other parents and teachers who spoke. 


Amanda also pointed out how the city loses families each year to private schools because of the large class sizes in our public schools, and blasts the DOE's intention to using online learning instead of providing sufficient space by building more schools.  This idea of expanding virtual instruction is vehemently opposed by most NYC parents, especially given its failure during the pandemic.


I am a public school ENL [English as a New Language] teacher and public school parent in Queens. My children are currently in classes with sizes of 30 and up. The classes where I teach are smaller than that, but ELLs [English Language Learners] need much smaller classes for teachers to be effective with this special population that is brand new to English and in a new country. I have excellent student teachers from Queens College ready to take jobs. Yet the principals I’ve talked to are completely in the dark about how the class size law will affect their school.


I am outraged that our class sizes in NYC are still 15-30% larger than classes in other parts of the state. Every year I hear parents of means talk about enrolling their child in a private school for lower class sizes. It’s not right. New York is a very wealthy state and now we have the money to give our kids the attention with the class sizes they deserve. 


The money from the State is there. Lower class sizes. There is no better investment than this. Hire teachers, build new schools. Put the $6.8 billion you plan to spend on new jails into building new schools. It is appalling that the City appears to still be resisting lowering our class sizes decades since the NY Court of Appeals found the City was not providing a sound basic education for our kids. 


Your plan isn’t specific enough. Please use SMART goals like we teach our students. You need to show which schools and how many classes will meet the new sizes. Your plan needs to be more specific about recruiting, supporting and retaining teachers. We need to see benchmarks to meet projected needs. 


Lastly, we saw the dismal effect of virtual learning necessitated by the pandemic. Most students experienced terrible academic and social outcomes with virtual learning. Why does the DOE class size reduction plan include more virtual learning? It almost seems like the City wants to set up our students to be academically unprepared. Enough already. Do what NY State and the public is asking. Follow the law. Make a real plan with SMART goals.


Thursday, May 30, 2024

Teacher Vinny Corletta's comments on how DOE's class size "plan" is so weak it cannot be even called "ineffective"

Last night's class size hearings were held for the borough of Queens.  There were many passionate cparents and teachers who spoke about the profound importance of class size to the learning opportunities for their students,  how excited they were when they first heard that the class size law had passed in June 2022, but their deep disappointment with the lack of planning by DOE so far to comply with the law, and the vagueness and inadequacy of the DOE's second year draft "plan" .  See our critique here

Below are the comments from Vinny Corletta, a middle school teacher.  If parents and teachers have other comments they'd  like to share, please send them to Thanks! .


I am so excited for this law. I think this is a chance to have an immediate impact- day 1 period 1.

I’m here to talk about the future. Because this class size law is not only about the here and now, but also the future.  Years ahead when this law reaches its final stages, when it makes the city make plans to actually focus on building schools and places for students. The plan set forth is not adequate enough for a year let alone the future. 

This law gives students and educators have the chance to form deep connections, deeper learning.

Where are the moves to put this law into action?  I  am an educator - I get rated on planning. If the DOE had spent energy to start on this plan when the law was signed instead of pushing back we would be in better shape. 

Our education system has turned so hostile to the citizens of the classroom.

That students don’t even know that educator to student is so powerful. I see Fair Student Funding but I see no plans -- I see no path. 

All the funding and space issues derive from the DOE. 

I see smaller classes in a microscopic and massive perspective. I see 23 students in my class where we learn why poetry is in our blood. Where civics is our duty. Where every student has that chance to make that one connection that can change a generation, and we talk about money and space? We speak about the DOE pushing back back against this even though improving literacy can actually happen. Not by a curriculum but by the people in the room. 

I am concerned about this plan. Because it doesn’t seem like a plan at all. This wouldn’t even be an ineffective on Danielson [NYC teacher evaluation system] --- this would be "a not observed."

I remember a few years ago a man from Brooklyn who went to school in Queens was saying if we do not educate we will incarcerate. I haven’t heard him say that in a long time. There aren’t many times where a law can make an immediate impact, but this one can. Day 1, Period 1  --- this law gives us the future we all want. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Talking points for class size hearings starting tomorrow Wed. May 22 in the Bronx; make your voices heard!

 The just-released DOE class size plan for next year fails on every account. Class size borough hearings begin this Wednesday May 22nd.   Make your voices heard!

  • Bronx – Wednesday, May 22, 2024 (6:00pm)
  • Manhattan – Thursday, May 23, 2024 (6:00pm)
  • Staten Island – Tuesday, May 28, 2024 (6:00pm)
  • Queens – Wednesday, May 29, 2024 (6:00pm)
  • Brooklyn – Thursday, May 30, 2024 (6:00pm)

To register and receive the Zoom link, go to The links will be available by 5 PM the day of the hearing.

Our talking points are available as a pdf here, and below.  But feel free to draw from your own experiences or that of your child, and your perspective.  Thanks!

Talking points for class size hearings

The state passed the class size law nearly two years ago, yet the DOE has still taken no steps to ensure compliance with the law. Instead, their policies have caused class sizes to increase due to repeated cuts of school budgets, while also slashing their spending on more space. Their draft class size “plan”, posted May  7, makes insufficient investments in new teachers and space, and is bound to fail without significant improvements.

Lack of funding to hire enough teachers:

  • DOE fails to invest sufficient funding to hire additional teachers to lower class size. The DOE says they will spend $137 million in “targeted” schools for this purpose, though they do not report which schools will receive this funding and how many more classes will meet the legal class size limits as a result.
  • We estimate that this amount would allow for the hiring of only about 1,350 additional teachers, out of the 10,000 to 12,000 teachers the DOE itself says will be needed to comply with the law over the next four years. The longer the DOE waits to hire additional teachers, the more difficult it will become to ensure their quality and certification.
  • Yet DOE plans to cut the budgets of as many as 760 schools due to projected enrollment decline and to impose a hiring freeze and vacancy reductions systemwide that could easily undo any positive impact from that $137 million. In fact, the city’s Financial plan projects a decrease of nearly 1,000 teachers next year, which would increase rather than decrease class size.
  • At the same time, they fail to allocate any of the more than $800 million of Contracts for Excellence funds specifically for the purpose of reducing class size, or the $1.8 billion dollars the city has received in additional Foundation funding that they will have received since 2021-2022 school year. In addition, the Independent Budget Office projects a city surplus of more than $5 billion.

What the DOE should do instead to hire more teachers: 

  • The DOE should provide funding to add at least 3,000 more teachers next year — one fourth of the additional number needed over over the next four years, at a cost of about $300 million. They should also promise to refrain from cutting any school’s budget, and not to impose a hiring freeze or vacancy reductions.

Lack of spending to create enough space

  • The DOE refuses to create sufficient space for smaller classes. Principals at 650 schools reported to DOE in their survey that they currently cannot comply with the class size limits due to inadequate classroom space. Yet the new proposed five-year capital plan cuts more than $2 billion for new capacity compared to the current plan and would create only about 22,000 additional seats – one tenth of the number that the School Construction Authority itself claims will be necessary.
  • A provision in the state budget passed in April requires the DOE to “increase planned spending on classroom construction by $2.0 billion” in order to be able to achieve the class size limits. Yet Instead of building more schools, the Mayor is planning to spend at least $6.8 billion for new jails –$2.7 billion more than the $4.1 billion currently dedicated for new school construction.
  • The Queens jail will cost at least $3.9 billion, which is far more than the plan has for new schools in Queens; the Bronx jail to cost at least $2.9 billion. Yet there is not a single dollar specified in the capital plan for new schools to be built in the Bronx.
  • The plan only Identifies new seats in six districts (2, 25, 27, 30, 31) plus one new high school in Brooklyn & one in Staten Island. 77% of the new seats remain unidentified as to borough, district, or grade level.
  • Without an expanded and accelerated plan to build more schools, the DOE will never meet the timelines to achieve the class size limits in the law.

What the DOE should do instead to create more space:

  • Immediately add at least $2 billion to the five-year capital plan, specifying where the new seats will be built by district, sub-district, and grade level, and explain how these additional seats will allow all schools over four years to reach the class size limits in the law.

Other problems with the DOE’s plan

  • DOE proposes that every superintendent increase the percentage of classes in their district schools at or below the class size caps by 3%. Yet forcing superintendents and principals to lower class size without providing any more funding or space could create problems in many schools. Instead, it is DOE’s responsibility to ensure that every school has the resources needed to lower class size without negative tradeoffs to the overall quality of education students receive.
  • The DOE also cites as an option to achieve the class size limits by expanding online learning. Forcing more students into remote classes, given the dismal results of this strategy during the pandemic, seems especially unwise and would likely undercut any of the benefits to student learning and social connection provided by smaller classes.

What the DOE should do instead:

  • The DOE must create and implement an actual multi-year plan, showing which schools will receive additional funding to hire additional teachers to lower class size each year, and detailing where additional space will be created to allow the approximately 650 schools that do not currently have sufficient space to achieve the class size limits within the within the mandated time frame. If the DOE refuses to create this plan, the State Education Department should require them to do so.


Monday, May 6, 2024

ECC Statement Condemning the Undemocratic State Budget Process That Used Mayoral Control as a Political Bargaining Chip

 To see if there's a way forward on this very critical issue, despite the Governor's insistence on cramming a two-year extension of Mayoral control into the state budget, join us for our Parent Action Conference on Saturday May 11 at 10:30 AM-- more info here.

ECC Statement Condemning the Undemocratic State Budget Process That Used Mayoral Control as a Political Bargaining Chip

April 25, 2024

New York State’s 2024-25 budget shows an utter disregard of parents, students, educators and advocates in New York City. When Governor Hochul made school governance into a political bargaining chip by including a 4-year extension of mayoral control in her Executive Budget in January, she knew well that the state legislature mandated report on school governance in New York City, which she called for, was due to be released near the end of March. 

After first agreeing to remove mayoral control from the budget, the governor put it back in the eleventh hour to use mayoral control for horse trading. The final budget agreed upon by the Governor, Majority Leader and Speaker includes a 2-year extension and some superficial changes to the Panel for Educational Policy.  It is as if the report by the Commissioner of the NYS Education Department never existed. 

We condemn this disregard for parents, students, educators and advocates, many of whom made clear in public testimony recorded in NYSED’s report, that we do not want mayoral control. We condemn the Governor’s hypocrisy in her statement, “governance mechanism that’s been in place for many, many years will not be politicized,” when she is the one who politicized it by using it to horse trade in the budget. 

While we recognize the Majority Leader and Speaker fought to keep mayoral control out of the budget, we are disappointed that they conceded in the end and seemingly listened only to the Mayor and the union leadership, neglecting the voices of the parents, students, educators and advocates. 

Mayoral control needed to be debated separately from the state budget. It should never be used as a pawn in budget negotiations, particularly in a year when a comprehensive report assessing the effectiveness of mayoral control was released. The Governor and the legislature are forcing children of NYC public schools to suffer a dysfunctional and grossly inequitable system for two more years without any future possibilities for a new governance system. 

We thank the legislators in both houses who advocated until the last moment on behalf of parents, students, educators and advocates. We will continue to fight for a democratic school governance system in New York City. 

Education Council Consortium Board of Directors