Monday, November 12, 2018

Brooklyn students fight against the Summit online platform and the Zuckerberg-Gates corporate machine

Students protesting at Secondary School of Journalism    credit: Edin Mejia
Update: this David vs. Goliath story with national implications was reported also on Fast Company , Business Insider; and NY Magazine.

Last week, on November 5, about 100 students at the Secondary School of Journalism in Brooklyn walked out of their schools to protest the Summit online program.  This digital instruction program, funded by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Bill Gates, forces students to spend hours staring at computers, left at sea with little human interaction or help from their teachers, all in the name of "personalized learning." 

As one of the students, Mitchel Storman, said to Sue Edelman who reported on the protest in the NY Post, "I have seen lots of students playing games instead of working....Students can easily cheat on quizzes since they can just copy and paste the question into Google.”
















Z. Bonsu, Kelly Hernandez & Akila Robinson credit: Helayne Seidman
Senior Akila Robinson said she couldn’t even log onto Summit for nearly two months, while other classmates can’t or won’t use it. “The whole day, all we do is sit there.”  A teacher said, “It’s a lot of reading on the computer, and that’s not good for the eyes. Kids complain. Some kids refuse to do it.”

Since Norm Scott wrote about the walkout on his blog, and Sue Edelman's reporting in the NY Post, the story has been picked up elsewhere including Fast Company and Business Insider.  The online program, which originated in the Summit chain of charter schools in California, and was further developed and expanded with millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation, Facebook and nowthe Chan Zuckerberg LLC, has now invaded up to 300 or so public schools, and is collecting a huge amount of personal data from thousands of students without their knowledge or consent or that of their parents.

I have been writing and questioning Summit for the past two years, and last year, met with Diane Tavenner, asked her all sorts of questions she never responded to, and toured her flagship charter school in Redwood City.  My description of this visit is here.

Since then, parents in 15 states have reached out to me in huge distress about the negative impact of this program on their children. Many report that their children, who had previously done well in school,  now say that they aren't learning, that they feel constantly stressed, are beginning to hate school and want to drop out. Some parents have told me that they are now homeschooling their kids or have decided to sell their homes and move out of the district.

The student newspaper at SSJ
In response to the student protest last week in Brooklyn, the DOE now says they will eliminate the program for 11th and 12th graders - but not yet for 9th and 10th graders like Mitchel Storman. The NY Post article also revealed that the Bronx Writing Academy, which used Summit last year, has already dropped it.

Yet two other NYC schools are still implementing Summit, including M.S. 88 Peter Rouget in Park Slope and the Academy for College Preparation and Career Exploration in Flatbush; with the latter school just adopting it this year.  One wonders whether DOE  officials are performing any oversight or evaluation of Summit before allowing more and more NYC schools to subject kids to this harmful program, and to examine whether it actually complies with the NY student privacy law.

Recently Diane Tavenner revealed that next year, the online program would spin off to a  separate nonprofit corporation,  run by a board led by Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg's wife and the CZI Chief Financial Officer.  She also said the new corporation "doesn’t plan to expand the program, but rather, the new nonprofit will focus on meeting current demand."  Yet a few days ago on Twitter , I saw that Summit is still entreating schools to apply .

Below is a fact sheet I have shared with parents and students at the Secondary School of Journalism, and those at Summit schools nationwide, along with some suggestions of questions they can ask their schools and districts about the instructional program, its data collection and privacy protections (or lack thereof).  Summit itself on its website states that parents and students have the right to demand the deletion of their personal data, and opt out of further collection of directory information, which includes their names, email addresses, and ID numbers, etc. and I suggest they do so immediately.  More on this below.  The fact sheet is also available as a pdf you can download here.

Bravo to the courageous students at SSJ, who have taken the lead to fight for their own education, vs Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and the other ed tech oligarchs, who are attempting to control their classrooms and their personal data.  As the recent NY Times series pointed out, Silicon Valley corporate leaders and engineers want one kind of education, largely screen-free, for their own kids, while imposing an experimental form of mechanized education on everyone else.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

News update on elections, federal investigation into DOE’s violation of student privacy and proposed capital plan – and how you can help!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Exciting election results & former NYC parent leader Khem Irby elected to Guilford school board!


Last night’s elections were fascinating. The NY State Senate is clearly in Democratic control for the   first time in years – the Dems only needed to flip one seat and they flipped eight.This will likely have a substantial impact on education funding and charter school policies in the state.
Khem in her NYC days

Lots of progressive new Governors won across the country who strongly support public education, and of course the House returned to Democratic control, aided by three House seats that flipped in NYS: Brindisi, Delgado and Max Rose here in NYC.
In nearby Newark, the voters approved a return to an elected school board vs. mayoral control, with the support of the Mayor of Newark Ras Baraka who said , “I do not want that power,” he said. “I want the people to have that power.” Too bad our Mayor isn’t that evolved.
And in news that is special to many of us here in NYC, Khem Irby, former parent leader in D 13, won her school board election in Guilford County- the third largest school district in North Carolina:
Current school board members held their seats in most of the Guilford County Board of Education races based on complete but unofficial returns.  The one exception is the 6th District, where Democratic challenger Khem Irby won in a tight race over incumbent Wes Cashwell, according to complete but unofficial results.
Chicago will also likely return to an elected school board after more than twenty years of mayoral control, as approved last session by both houses of  the IL Legislature and their newly elected Governor supports it.
Yay democracy in action.  And congrats to Khem!!!!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Will the Mayor and Chancellor halt the practice of allowing charter schools to access student personal information to market their schools, now that the feds and the state have launched investigations of how this violates student privacy?

If you’d like to add your voice, please urge the Mayor and the Chancellor to stop allowing charters to market their schools by giving them access to personal student information by clicking here.

 Yesterday, Sue Edelman of the NY Post reported that the DOE is under investigation by both the US Department of Education and the NY State Education Department for violating student privacy law by making student information, including their names and addresses, available to charter schools for recruiting purposes.  The letter in which Dale King, Director of the Family Privacy Compliance Office of the US Department of Education, announced the investigation into this DOE practice is posted below.

This investigation follows from Johanna Garcia's FERPA complaint filed a year ago, which pointed
Johanna Garcia
out that the DOE allows charters access to student personal information to send families promotional materials via  the DOE mailing house, Vanguard Direct, without providing parents with the right to opt out, which would be required under the directory information exception to FERPA.

Instead, DOE wrongly claims the right to share this information with charter schools under the "school official" exception, which is reserved for vendors that are performing services on behalf of the district and need the information to carry out their contracted duties. Yet charter schools are not carrying out services for DOE.   In addition, the use of data for marketing purposes is specifically barred by the NY State student privacy law §2-d: "Personally identifiable information maintained by educational agencies, including data provided to third-party contractors and their assignees, shall not be sold or used for marketing purposes."

Here is the NY Post summary of the DOE claim, and our responses:


In response to Garcia’s complaint, the New York state and US education departments said they are probing whether the marketing deal violates FERPA — a federal law which requires schools to get parent permission before releasing student information, except in limited cases.

The DOE claims an exemption lets it give student information to outside entities to perform functions that its own employees would otherwise do. State law “permits outreach to make families aware of their educational options, including both district and charter schools,” Cohen said. 

But Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, said the reasoning makes no sense: “School districts lose funding and space when students enroll in charters. Why would the DOE use its own employees for that purpose?”

Garcia agreed. “Vanguard makes money. Charter schools make money. All on the backs of regular public-school students.”

The DOE long-standing policy of making student information available to charter schools started under charter-friendly Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein, in response to a plea from Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz that she needed to "mail 10-12 times to elementary and preK families so she could grow the "market share, " according to emails she sent to Klein and acquired through FOIL by reporter Juan Gonzalez in 2010. Five days after she sent her initial request,  Michael Duffy, then-head of the NYC DOE charter office, wrote back he was trying to "overcome the obstacles" of privacy laws and would do his best to make the mailing addresses of public school families available for this purpose.

The US Department of Education letter from Dale King that is posted below is dated Sept. 25, 2018 and demands a response from DOE within four weeks.  This deadline was October 25 – nearly two weeks ago, yet according to sources, the DOE has not yet responded. Dale King's questions include clarifying how DOE informs parents of their rights under FERPA, and to "provide this Office with information on the relationship between the District and the charter schools to which the District discloses information, particularly Success Academy."
Below the US DOE letter is another letter sent by Council Members, Danny Dromm, Mark Treyger, Brad Lander and Stephen Levin on August 8, 2018, urging Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to halt this practice and pointing out how it not only appears to violate student privacy but also the administration's stated priority of supporting public schools rather than encouraging charter schools to expand and drain more funds from the system:

Next fiscal year, the charter sector in New York City is projected to cost the DOE $2.1 billion in annual operating funds and is taking up more space every year in our overcrowded school buildings. It is time to put our public-school students first and focus on improving their education and protecting their privacy.
Only after Sue Edelman began asking DOE about whether they had responded to this letter did the DOE respond to these elected members of the City Council, more than two months later.

On October 12,   Deputy Chancellor Karin Goldmark sent a letter to CM Dromm, in which she repeated the dubious claim that since the state law requires charter schools to enroll high-needs students, including students with disabilities and/or English Language Learners, this somehow exempts DOE from the countervailing restrictions of state and federal privacy law. Though the state charter school law does require charter schools to make efforts to recruit high needs students, this does not mean that DOE is authorized to help them do so by violating student privacy.  
 
Moreover, as Johanna has pointed out, despite multiple mailings, her family has never received a letter from Success Academy in Spanish, even though there are large numbers of Latino families in District 6 where she lives.  And as mentioned in her complaint, the only one of her children to receive Success marketing materials is the one child without an IEP.

A recent Bronx Ink article reports that only ten percent of NYC charter schools enroll  as many English Language Learners as the school districts in which they're situated, including few if any Success Academy charter schools.  The article focuses specifically on Success Bronx I in District 7, where the number of ELLs has fallen in half -- from 8% to 4% -- since being reauthorized by SUNY two years ago.  This percent is tiny compared to the overall numbers of ELLs in District 7 public schools, in which ELLs vary between 16% and 22% depending on the grade level.  So despite millions spent on marketing and mailings, the DOE claim that making personal student information available to Success and other charter schools somehow helps them enroll their fair share of high-needs students doesn't hold water.  

At a Harlem Town Hall meeting last week with Chancellor Carranza, District 5 Community Education Council members and PTA leaders vehemently objected to the supersaturation of charter schools in their community, that drains their public schools of students and funds.  In response,  Carranza insisted that their public schools needed to engage in improved marketing, and that parents should consider "what is the need that charter schools are answering."  (See the video from News 11 here.)

Yet few if any public schools have the resources to put into advertising and recruitment as Success Academy, which spent about  $1,300 for every newly enrolled student in 2011 on marketing.  More recently, Moskowitz had created what is described as a "full service, brand strategy, marketing, and creative division within Success Academy” called the "The Success Academy Creative Agency" according to the LinkedIn profile of its Managing Director, Meredith Levin.  In the previous version of her profile accessed last month, Levin described leading a  "group of over 30 creative directors, designers, copywriters, strategists, e-learning architects & project managers to develop, execute and optimize campaigns to recruit 1,000+ teachers, enroll families, donors, influencers, and cultivate community engagement."

What public school has the resources to compete with that?  And why should the DOE be helping Success Academy, which has repeatedly been sued for violating student civil rights and last year kicked out one quarter of their special needs students in self-contained classes, expand their "market share," especially when it involves violating the privacy rights of public school families?

Let's hope that the Chancellor and the Mayor reconsider this practice and reverse course before the charter schools send out marketing materials to DOE families this fall, via their access to personal student information provided by DOE.





Saturday, October 27, 2018

A growing class divide in education: small class size vs. computerized learning; how Silicon valley is very aware that the ed tech they're foisting on our schools is dangerous to kids


Three articles in today’s NY Times well worth reading, with some excerpts below, explore the growing class divide between the private schools for rich children where real personalized learning is provided via small classes and computers are rarely used, as opposed to schools for middle class and poor kids, where ed tech is all the rage, pushed by corporate interests and fauxlanthropists like Gates and Zuckerberg.

For those who want to see the presentation we did at last weekend’s NPE conference on this issue, including a video and power point, check out Outsourcing the classroom to machine learning & ed tech; why parents should resist. 

Is the explosion of ed tech in the classroom a massive hoax or a dangerous experiment on kids?  Offer your comments below.

“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones.”
SAN FRANCISCO — The people who are closest to a thing are often the most wary of it. Technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don’t want their own children anywhere near them.
A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high. … Athena Chavarria, who worked as an executive assistant at Facebook and is now at Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said: “I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children.”… For longtime tech leaders, watching how the tools they built affect their children has felt like a reckoning on their life and work.
Among those is Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now the chief executive of a robotics and drone company. He is also the founder of GeekDad.com.
“On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it’s closer to crack cocaine,” Mr. Anderson said of screens. …“This is scar tissue talking. We’ve made every mistake in the book, and I think we got it wrong with some of my kids,” Mr. Anderson said. “We glimpsed into the chasm of addiction, and there were some lost years, which we feel bad about.”
His children attended private elementary school, where he saw the administration introduce iPads and smart whiteboards, only to “descend into chaos and then pull back from it all.”

The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected

America’s public schools are still touting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether.
The parents in Overland Park, Kan., were fed up. They wanted their children off screens, but they needed strength in numbers. First, because no one wants their kid to be the lone weird one without a phone. And second, because taking the phone away from a middle schooler is actually very, very tough.
“We start the meetings by saying, ‘This is hard, we’re in a new frontier, but who is going to help us?’” said Krista Boan, who is leading a Kansas City-based program called START, which stands for Stand Together And Rethink Technology. “We can’t call our moms about this one.”
For the last six months, at night in school libraries across Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., about 150 parents have been meeting to talk about one thing: how to get their kids off screens….
It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction….

Technology Is a Huge Social Experiment on Children

Some parents, pediatricians and teachers around the country are pushing back.
“These companies lied to the schools, and they’re lying to the parents,” said Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in Kansas City. “We’re all getting duped.”…
“Our kids, my kids included, we are subjecting them to one of the biggest social experiments we have seen in a long time,” she said. “What happens to my daughter if she can’t communicate over dinner — how is she going to find a spouse? How is she going to interview for a job?”
As those working to build products become more wary, the business of getting screens in front of kids is booming. Apple and Google compete ferociously to get products into schools and target students at an early age, when brand loyalty begins to form.
Google published a case study of its work with the Hoover City, Ala., school district, saying technology equips students “with skills of the future.”
The concluded that its own Chromebooks and Google tools changed lives: “The district leaders believe in preparing students for success by teaching them the skills, knowledge, and behaviors they need to become responsible citizens in the global community.”
Dr. Freed, though, argues these tools are too relied upon in schools for low-income children. And he sees the divide every day as he meets tech-addicted children of middle and low-income families.
“For a lot of kids in Antioch, those schools don’t have the resources for extracurricular activities, and their parents can’t afford nannies,” Dr. Freed said. He said the knowledge gap around tech’s danger is enormous.
Dr. Freed and 200 other psychologists petitioned the American Psychological Association in August to formally condemn the work psychologists are doing with persuasive design for tech platforms that are designed for children.
“Once it sinks its teeth into these kids, it’s really hard,” Dr. Freed said.

Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids

Child care contracts now demand that nannies hide phones, tablets, computers and TVs from their charges.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Elected and parent leaders urge the Mayor to fully fund need for school seats in soon-to-be released capital plan

Mayor promising to fully fund need for seats in next five-year Capital plan
For immediate release: October 26, 2018

Contact: Leonie Haimson, 917-435-9329; leonie@classsizematters.org


Elected and parent leaders urge the Mayor to fully fund need for school seats in soon-to-be released capital plan
They warn that school overcrowding will worsen without a focused effort to expand capacity
The new five-year capital plan for schools for 2020-2024 is expected to be released next month. Earlier this week, a letter was sent to the Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza, asking them to fulfill the promise the Mayor made last year that the new plan would fully fund new school space according to the Department of Education’s own estimate of need. At that time, the need was projected by DOE to be 38,000 seats in addition to the 44,000 seats in the current plan, to alleviate school overcrowding and accommodate projected enrollment growth.

The letter was signed by Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, newly-elected State Senator Robert Jackson, along with leaders of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, many Presidents of President Councils and Community Education Councils, the Education Council Consortium, and Class Size Matters.

“We know that when our schools are overcrowded, our children are deprived of the attention they deserve,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Supporting our schools and ensuring our children have the resources they need to succeed should always be top priority and that starts with fully funding this capital plan to accommodate the growing number of students in New York City. Every child deserves access to a quality education and we cannot wait to act.”

As Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters explained, “According to the DOE’s data, about 575,000 students are crammed into overcrowded NYC schools. The current capital plan is only about half-funded in terms of new school capacity compared to the need identified by the DOE. Meanwhile, the city’s population is growing fast, there’s a residential building boom in every borough, and thousands more 3K and UPK students are enrolled in our district’s schools. All this is contributing to worsening school overcrowding, especially in elementary schools which average 104% utilization citywide.”

Shino Tanikawa, co-President of the Education Council Consortium, composed of Citywide and Community Education Council members, pointed out, “The ECC unanimously voted to sign on to this letter, because too many kids have lost their art rooms, access to gyms and cafeterias at reasonable times, and are subjected to excessive class sizes. We know that as it is, the DOE’s estimate of need is too low. For one thing, the school utilization formula is not aligned to the smaller classes required for a truly equitable chance to learn, despite the recommendations made by the Blue Book Working Group which I co-chaired. The Mayor should fulfill his promise to fund and build at least the schools that the DOE admits are required.”

The letter also urged the Mayor and the Chancellor to accelerate the process of school siting and construction so that the additional seats are built within five years, rather than trailing years behind enrollment, as occurs now.

Naila Rosario, President of the NYC Kids PAC, explained: “Too often, even those school seats that are funded take twenty years or more to site and build. Meanwhile, class sizes swell out of control, as high rises and new developments sprout up all over the city. Most of the seats funded in the current capital plan won’t be built until 2020 or later, long after the plan is over. We need to accelerate this process of school planning and construction and make it far more efficient.”

Concluded Celia Green, newly-elected President of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council and a parent of special needs students, pointed out, “Students with disabilities have repeatedly been forced into too-small rooms, shunted aside in trailers, and often receive their mandated services in hallways or closets. This is unacceptable, especially in the richest city in the country in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Parents know that their children’s opportunities are partly shaped by the environment in which they are educated, and it is past time that the city acknowledge that fact, by providing them with the space they deserve.”

A copy of the letter is posted here.
###

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Our Educator toolkit presentation from the NPE conference

Melissa Tomlinson and Marla Kilfoyle of the Badass Teachers Association along with Rachael Stickland and Leonie Haimson presented the new Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy at the Network for Public Education Conference in Indianapolis last Saturday, October 20, 2018. Check it out below.

Since the Toolkit was released on Thursday Oct. 18, it was covered in Ed Week and has been downloaded more than 2000 times! You can download the entire toolkit yourself at https://bitly.com/PCSP_EducatorPrivacyToolkit.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Class size in the UFT's current vs past contracts & the history of More Effective Schools


For more on the lack of attention given to class size in the UFT contract, see the commentary from MORE, the UFT progressive caucus, and from James Eterno, long-time teacher leader of the ICE, the Independent Community of Educators. 
I was just at the Network for Public Education's annual conference, where Alex Orosco, the treasurer of the United Teachers of Los Angeles spoke about how lowering class size is the union’s top priority in negotiations that have been going on for months now– above even salary increases.  In fact, he said, the Superintendent tried to buy the union with offering them higher salaries, which they rejected.  According to the UTLA, his offer was a 3 percent salary increase with another 3 percent contingent on district finances, but the “proposal on class size is unacceptable, and makes no improvements for 90% of our schools.” From their press release:
“Beutner’s proposal does nothing to make our schools better. This is an insult to our members, to our students and to our parents,” said Arlene Inouye, Chair of the Bargaining Team. “This stunt reveals he is more interested in fighting against educators at any cost than saving our school district.” An oped about the fight for lower class sizes in LA schools is here.
Meanwhile there are no moves to lower class sizes in the new proposed UFT contract, with caps that have remained the same for nearly  fifty years. The existing caps remain far too large at 25 students per class in K, 32 in grades 1-5; 30-33 in middle schools (depending on whether it’s a Title One school), and 34 in high school.
When the UFT first became the teachers’ bargaining agent in 1961, lowering class size was already one of the union's top priorities. The specific demand submitted to the NYC Board of Education that year was that all classes should be capped at 30, with classes of struggling students capped at 25, and special classes limited to 15.
In 1963, the first class size caps were first imposed, along with higher salaries, under the leadership of Al Shanker and the threat of strike.  In 1964, these caps were reduced and even smaller classes were instituted through the contract in a select group of schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, called the “More Effective Schools."
These schools capped class sizes at no more than 22 students and also offered preK classes limited to 15 students, in a visionary program, truly ahead of its time. The schools also provided "teacher specialists, grouped classes heterogeneously and emphasized school-community relationships. 
A $5 million fund was dedicated to be spent on these schools as well as other “intensive” programs, and a “work group” made up of the UFT, the BOE and parents would “make appropriate studies and to submit recommendations” to the BOE on how the program would be expanded.
A 1967 independent study found exceptional gains in these schools, which enrolled 18,000 students.  The schools offered an average class size or 20.5, more than 8 students fewer than the citywide average. Improvements were noted in student achievement, speech fluency, school climate, and survey responses from parents and teachers and administrators. 
“Standardized test results in reading and arithmetic show favorable gains in ability and skills by the More Effective pupils, whether or not they are compared in growth with national norms or with a comparable control group of schools.” The study also found that significantly fewer teachers transferred out of these schools than the city average.
In 1970, a consultant concluded that “The program’s major objective was realized to a considerable degree, especially in instilling in the pupils a desire for learning, a likely for school and increased respect for themselves and others.” When the Board of Ed cut funding and discontinued these  schools in 1972, the UFT unsuccessfully sued in Brooklyn Supreme Court keep them going.
Since that time, the evidence on the importance of class size to improving student achievement, school climate, student engagement, disciplinary problems, graduation rates and teacher attrition has only grown.
Yet not only have class size caps not been reduced, they have actually been increased in recent years.  Starting in 1986, class sizes were capped at 28 in grades 1-3, because of a UFT “side agreement" or sometimes called a “capping circular,” created with special funding from the City Council under then-Speaker Peter Vallone.  When the DOE began to ignore this agreement in 2010  and raised classes to 32 in these grades in hundreds of schools, it provoked very little protest from the union.
An archived page from 2011 on the UFT website acknowledged these lower caps, missing from the current page dealing with class size caps:  When specific funding is provided, as has often been done for the early grades, lower caps may apply. In recent years, 1st and 2nd grades have been capped at 28 students per class. Ask your UFT chapter leader if lower limits apply to your class. 
In 2015, Chancellor Carmen Farina instructed principals to ignore the class size cap in Kindergarten, probably the worst grade to allow this to happen, according to research.  The UFT belatedly responded by agreeing that in a class that exceeded 25 students, the teacher would receive an extra prep period or a classroom aide assigned to the classroom for part of the day. Neither of these measures took effect until after December in 2015, far too late into the school year, and neither would be expected to provide the same benefits to students as a small class.  In recent years, too often the resolution for class size violations in other grades as well has been to award teachers an extra prep period or some other concession – with no benefit to the 35 plus students in their classes.  
In 2016, the DOE and UFT created  a labor-management committee to focus  “on resolving overages in schools with a history of oversize classes”.  At the  time, it was claimed that this would lead to the speed of addressing class size in schools in which class sizes violate the limits year after year, without any resolution for months at a time.     
The proposed UFT contract puts forward a new bureaucratic process that will supposedly further “expedite” the process,  by referring them first to the district leader and the superintendent, and then to this same  central labor-management committee, but only after a delay of a full month or more of the school year -- which is already far too slow for students whose education should not have to disrupted by switching teachers or classes so late in the year: 
Under the new process, remaining oversize classes that the superintendent and the UFT district representative cannot resolve by day 21 will be turned over to a class size labor management committee. That central committee will meet at least three days a week every week until it has reviewed the remaining oversize class issues in every school.
The new process is different for a “chronically out-of-compliance” school — a school that has had oversize classes for four or more of the last six years, including the most recent year.[emphasis added] The central committee will meet no later than the 10th day of school to determine a school-specific solution for each of these schools. The central committee will reconvene in June to update the short- and long-term plans for each of these schools to head off trouble in September.
Schools for which the central committee fails to find a solution will be fast-tracked [after months have already passed?] to arbitration. Under the new process, the arbitrator will have the authority to determine the appropriate remedy. 
Meanwhile, according to the contract, any resolution to address violations in schools with chronic violations, as well all discussions in the Class Size Labor Management committee “are non-precedential, and the parties agree that they will not be used in any other forum or proceeding except to enforce their terms.”  This implies an untoward level of secrecy for an issue with such importance to parents and students. 
Instead of addressing the need to lower the caps, the contract creates lots of new out-of-classroom positions, especially at the high-needs schools branded as “Bronx Collaborative Schools.”  These new positions will have questionable value to students, as I explained here:

  
These new higher-paid positions are also supposed to reduce teacher attrition at these schools, but there is little or no evidence that supplementing salary will work – as opposed to reducing class size, which has been shown to improve teacher retention rates in many studies, including as noted in the research on the More Effective Schools.
In an article in City Limits, David Bloomfield, education professor,  pointed this out: 
“David Bloomfield, an education professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, expressed surprise that the UFT agreed to differential pay for teachers in different locations. He also stressed that salary issues were not often at the forefront of teacher’s concerns in high-need schools and districts.
“The main issue is the difficult working conditions in some of these schools brought on by large class sizes with concentrations of students with the greatest challenges,” he says. “Whether a salary increment will increase the staffing stability or improve the learning of those children is open to question.” 
A teacher with the initials JTS left this comment: Agree with the final comment. Working in a tough school can be a completely different job than in a school with few problems. Its not worth your sanity for an extra $5000-8000. They should increase that amount or better yet, change working conditions, such as by reducing class sizes or having more effective discipline and support systems in these hard-to-staff schools. 
The Renewal schools, the previous program for struggling schools which the previous Chancellor Carmen Farina created has had inconsistent results. As part of a $4.9 million teacher-leadership program, these schools were provided the opportunity to raise salaries by  $27,500 for top teachers willing to take on leadership roles; yet  a Chalkbeat investigation found  that nearly 40 percent of teachers at schools in the Renewal Program in 2014 had left after two years. 
According to the new UFT contract, the Bronx Collaborative schools will not only be offered new categories of higher paid mentor teachers, but will also “priority consideration for centrally funded initiatives such as Equity and Excellence initiatives, air conditioning, physical education and others that align to the schools' goals. " 
But apparently not class size reduction, which would give them the greatest opportunity to engage their students, leading to more learning and better outcomes.  Our analysis of Renewal schools showed that the ones with the smallest classes were most likely to succeed.
In a UFT teacher survey from 2013 – the most recent one publicly available - 99% NYC teachers responded that class size reduction would be an effective reform  to improve NYC schools.  About 90% said that this would be a “very effective” reform – far outstripping any other proposal.  



If the UFT leadership was doing anything else to push for smaller classes, either through court action or advocating for targeted funding for class size reduction through the state or city budget, their lack of attention given to reducing class size in the contract would be more understandable.  Sadly, for too long, they remain Missing in Action on this crucial issue.