Monday, November 29, 2021

Time is running out on the class size bill -- & how you can help!

 1. Only about two weeks remain before the Council adjourns and a new City Council  takes office.  Please send a letter TODAY to Council Speaker Corey Johnson by clicking here-- demanding that he schedule a vote for the class size reduction bill, Int 2347.   When Johnson was running for Speaker, he promised that if 34 Council Members signed onto a bill, he would bring that bill to a vote. Int 2347 now has 40 Council Members as co-sponsors, including the Speaker himself. NYC kids need smaller classes for a safer environment and a better chance to learn! Write him today!

2. This Thursday, Dec. 2 at 6 PM EST, Class Size Matters  and NYC Kids PAC will host an emergency briefing and strategy session on class size -- what the research shows, how NYC class sizes compare to those elsewhere in the state, and what we should do to help get this bill passed. Sign up here and we'll send you a link to the event.   Join us!

3.Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. Because of the pandemic, we haven't been able to hold our Class Size Matters fundraiser for the last two years. No matter what happens to this particular bill, we'll continue to provide the oversight, outreach, advocacy and analysis necessary to ensure that someday soon, our students receive the smaller class sizes they deserve.  Please give as generously as you can, to help ensure that our work continues even stronger than before.  

thanks Leonie

P.S. If you buy gifts through Amazon, by ordering through Amazon Smile, Class Size Matters will receive a small percentage of the amount.

 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The fight for smaller classes in NYC with UFT President Michael Mulgrew

Check out our latest  #TalkOutofSchool podcast with UFT President Michael Mulgrew and teachers Emily James & Tricia Arnold, who explained why they are fighting for smaller classes for NYC schools and what you can do to help. 

 

Resources:

Intro 2374 - The City Council class size reduction bill

How parents can help get this passed - Sign the UFT petition and check out Class Size Matters campaign

Gothamist's investigation of defective Intellipure air purifiers and higher Covid rates in schools without mechanical ventilation systems.

Chalkbeat NY - Settlement to give Black and Latino students more access to NYC high school sports teams

Get vaccinated and get your booster - School vaccination sites and schedules and city-run sites.

 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Urgent! Call Speaker Johnson to ask him to schedule a vote on the class size bill!


Este mensaje está en español aquí.

Leonie --

The good news is that with your help, 39 Council Members out of 49 have now signed onto Int. 2374, the bill that would require class sizes be reduced in NYC schools. This is a veto-proof majority, so that if passed, the Mayor could not block it.

The bad news is that the Mayor is trying to stop the bill from ever coming to a vote. This vote was supposed to happen Nov. 23, but has now been delayed.  

So I need your help -- please call Speaker Corey Johnson's office TODAY to urge him to schedule the class size bill for a vote. We only have a month until nearly the entire City Council turns over and we have to start from scratch.  

Here is his phone number and a suggested message, but feel free to alter it in any way you like:

Call 212-788-7210 :

I am a parent and I'm calling to urge the Speaker to schedule a vote on Intro. 2374 as soon as possible. It just isn't fair that NYC class sizes are 10-30% larger than those in the rest of the state. NYC children have waited long enough for a better chance to learn. Passing this legislation would be one of the greatest accomplishments of his time in office. My name is x, my phone no. is y., and I would appreciate a call back to find out when this vote will happen.

Then, once you've called, please fill out this form if you have time, letting us know what happened.

And please forward this message to other parents, teachers and New Yorkers who care.

Thanks Leonie

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

When will DOE post this year's class size data that was legally due Nov. 15?

According to a Local Law 125 passed in 2005,  the DOE is required to report on class size data by school, district, borough and citywide each year by Nov. 15, and then again on Feb. 15.  

Nov. 15 was two days ago, and yet class size data for this year has not yet been posted.  We have a clock below that started at midnight Nov. 15, to track how late the data is posted -- if it ever will. 

The DOE still hasn't posted accurate data for last year's class sizes, despite a  promise in writing by Deputy Chancellor Karin Goldmark to CM Mark Treyger that they would do so last year, and sworn testimony before the City Council by Chancellor Meisha Porter to CM Dromm about this as well.  

Instead, last February, three months late, they posted the data for (very small) in-person classes only, rather than providing any data on the remote or blended learning class sizes.  This is despite the fact that they were collecting data on the size of these classes separately since the beginning of the school year.

I will be checking regularly, but you can as well on the DOE website here; and if you see any class size data for the 2021- 2022 school year, please email us at info@classsizematters.org.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Updated! Growing support for the class size bill and how you can help!

Este mensaje es en Español aqui.

UPDATED Nov. 12, 2021

Intro 2367, the bill that would require smaller classes be phased in over three years, now has 38 out of 49  Council Members as co-sponsors. (Two Council seats are empty.) We hope this bill will come to a vote in the next ten days or so.

As of this morning, 11 Council Members have not signed on. Their names and phone numbers are below, along with the school districts they represent and their twitter handles.

This list is updated and corrected.  CM Selvena Brooks-Powers had earlier signed on; and Brad Lander and Paul Vallone have since yesterday.  Keep those calls coming!  They make a difference.  

If they are your representative, or you work or your child attends school in their district, please give them a call, and follow up with a tweet if you can. If you don’t know who your Council Member is, you can find out by filling out the form here.

Here is a sample message:

I urge you to support and co-sponsor Intro 2367, so that my child and all NYC children can have a truly equitable chance to learn. It is simply unfair that NYC children continue to be subjected to the largest class sizes in the state.

The updated list of Members who have NOT signed on is below. thanks Leonie

 


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Why the Fair Student Funding Task Force report was never released, and recommendations from eight of its members

The Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools recently announced her intent to eliminate or radically reform their weighted student funding system, because it fails to properly provide for all the programs and services that students need and because it incentivizes principals to overcrowd their schools and classrooms. The same  flaws are inherent in the NYC Fair Student Funding system.

Following widespread protests, the  formula was first adopted by then-Chancellor Joel Klein in 2007, despite serious concerns as to whether it made sense and might lead to increases in class size over time (as it actually did). In January 2019, the City Council passed a law , Local Law 1174, to create a Task Force to analyze the  formula and come up with recommendations on how to improve it.  The below account was written by one of the Task Force members, Shino Tanikawa, to explain why the report was never released; and below her account are the recommendations submitted by eight of the members on the Task Force that the Mayor refused to accept or release.  

I was appointed to the Fair Student Funding Task force by DOE. The Task Force met regularly for 9 months, deliberated, and produced a report ready to be submitted to the Mayor and the Chancellor. Unfortunately during the final review by the City Hall, the report died a quiet death and was never released. 

It became clear the City Hall’s interest was in using the Task Force recommendation to pressure the State to fully fund the Foundation Aid, not to comprehensively evaluate the formula itself. The report contains many recommendations that would require more investment from both the City and the State. For example, we recommended increasing the Base Allocation to cover a wide range of essential staff, such as social workers and school counselors.

In addition, many advocates wanted to include language around evaluating the formula for its impact on class size but we were told the Fair Student Funding has nothing to do with class size reduction (they are wrong). The Mayor has always been reluctant to acknowledge the real need of our school system for smaller classes.

As you can see, one of our major recommendations was that the DOE should develop a class size reduction plan with specific milestones and timelines, especially as "the current funding allocation from Fair Student Funding incentivizes large class sizes in our schools."  We also found that "Nearly 80% of the principals, from 12 CSDs, who responded to a survey distributed by Task Force members identified large class sizes as a consequence of the FSF formula."

The DOE agreed to develop such a plan once our schools received full funding from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, but has reneged on that promise, once again, as it has so often in the past. 

 

Eight of the parent and advocate members of the Task Force, including me,  submitted our own version of the recommendations during the FSF public comment period in April 2021.  

 

I have now shared that report with Class Size Matters. -- Shino Tanikawa

 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Mayor de Blasio and DOE Chancellor say state test results "cast a positive light on NYC's performance" (parody by Fred Smith)


Today the state test scores from last spring
were released, revealing that only 20% percent of eligible NYC students in grades 3-8 took the exams, as many were engaged in remote learning and parents had to opt in for their children to take them. Thus the results were more meaningless than ever.  Even so, a 64% of students tested "proficient", a higher percentage than in years past. 

Below is testing expert and critic Fred Smith's rendition of a NYC press release, a parody of the nonsense that regularly comes out of the Mayor's office and DOE in a usual, non-pandemic year.

____

This afternoon, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Porter announced the results of the 2021 ELA and Math Tests.   

They cast a positive light on New York City's performance.

The chancellor said that since the Common Core tests began in 2013, this year's results had reached new heights of irrelevance. 

"This shows how good leadership and dedicated teachers and principals can bring us to a new level, despite the challenges we have faced.

I want to thank the mayor for the support he has given us.  Chancellor Carranza, my predecessor, deserves some of the credit too."

The Mayor seemed particularly gratified and attributed this year's success to the seeds planted by his Universal Pre-K program.  

"I would say that anytime we make strides, even if they lack meaning, is a good time." 

Power point charts were made available to the media providing the usual breakdowns.  As expected, New York did better than the Big 4 cities. 

              ~30~

Important update on class size bill & how you can help; plus deadline to opt out of SEL screener

1. Check out the compelling testimony including videos from yesterday's hearings on Intro 2374  and the importance of lowering class size, from Regent Kathy Cashin, Diane Ravitch, Elsie McCabe Thompson and others. Diane Ravitch testified that lowering class size would be the most powerful education reform the Council could enact.

My written testimony is here.  If you’d like to add your voice, you can upload your thoughts in the form of a doc  through Saturday on the Council website here. If you do write something, please also send it to at info@classsizematters.org so I can post it on my website.

2. As expected, DOE officials expressed total opposition to the class size bill, claiming it would take decades to build enough seats and that it would be "disruptive" to schools, though of course, overcrowded classrooms and schools are hugely disruptive to the quality of education NYC students receive. Not one of them claimed that achieving smaller classes would not be beneficial for kids,  and in fact, Deputy Chief Academic Officer Lawrence Pendergast testified that "no pedagogue would disagree" that class size matters.

Though DOE officials claimed that it would take 200,000 seats to provide the additional space required, the IBO estimates the real number is about 100,000 seats. My view is that the DOE cannot be trusted to come up with an accurate figure since they still haven't complied with Local Law 167 passed two years ago, that required them to explain their methodology for estimating the need for new school seats as laid out in the Capital plan. Council Education Chair Mark Treyger pointed out that the Mayor had created thousands of PreK and 3K seats nearly overnight, and that creating space for lowering class size could be done, given the same impetus and political will.

So far 28 Council members have signed onto the class size bill, Intro 2374 , so please check the link for the names of the co-sponsors and if your CM is not listed, please give them a call. You can find their names and phone numbers here. We have only a few short weeks before the Council turns over to a nearly entirely new cast of characters, so this is urgent!

3. The DOE has contracted with a company that produces a social emotional screener which teachers are supposed to fill out for their students starting next week. DOE has said that parents have the right to opt out of this screener, called DESSA, though many have not been informed of that right. Many parents also have serious concerns about the privacy, security, reliability and use of the resulting data, issues I have written about here.  

If you decide to opt out, you have till tomorrow, Friday October 29 to do so. If you haven't been told about a specific form to fill out, you can opt out by emailing your principal and copying your parent coordinator, informing them of your decision; be sure to include your child's name, class and OSIS number as well.

Thanks , Leonie