Friday, March 23, 2007

Klein Says "No" To Smaller Classes

Smaller classes is one of the few policies widely recognized to improve student performance. So when powerful Queens Assemblyman, Deputy Assembly Speaker Ivan C. Lafayette raised the issue of overcrowding in Queens classrooms with Chancellor Joel Klein, he hardly expected the door to be slammed in his face. But according to a press release issued by Lafayette's office, that's precisely what happened:

Despite all of the rhetoric coming from City Hall and the New York City Department of Education, Chancellor Joel Klein made it clear to Deputy Speaker Ivan C. Lafayette (D – Jackson Heights) that there were no plans to utilize any additional state funding to reduce class size. Chancellor Klein told this to a group of Queens’ legislators at a meeting on Friday, March 16th at Tweed Courthouse, which is now the City Department of Education building.

The reason he gave was that in order to reduce class size, he would have to build new schools, meaning he would then have to hire 500 additional teachers. Chancellor Klein also said that he did not believe any teachers would even want to be placed in these new schools because they would be built in the most overcrowded areas, thereby intimating they were minority areas.

Lafayette's bulletin goes on to criticize Klein for failing to avail himself of funding mechanisms made available by the legislature for schools construction:

In 2005, it was the Assembly that pushed for and achieved legislative changes to the building aid formula cost allowance calculation for New York City. This change in the building aid formula, if utilized by New York City properly, will result in 60% of the cost for New York City schools over the next 5 years if the city proceeds with the 13 billion dollar capital plan, which seemingly has been abandoned.

To date the city has not taken the time to even understand the state capital formula that pays for a majority of the costs to repair existing schools as well as to build new schools,” stated Lafayette.

Under the old formula, the city would receive at most 25% of capital money for new school construction projects. Under the new formula, New York City will receive up to 60% reimbursement from the State for these projects.

Clearly Klein and Bloomberg have no real interest in pursuing the policies proven to improve student performance. And Klein's rationale for opposing smaller classes grows more and more bizarre. At the same time, Klein inexplicably alienates the very legislators who will decide whether to renew mayoral control of the schools when the current experiment ends in 2009.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This comes as no big surprise to me. The interests truly do not lie in improving education for our children. No money for class size reduction, no money for hiring new teachers but there is plenty of money for an 80 million dollar computer. As I have been saying all along and so have you Children First is just a title it will always be Children last special interests first. One day I would like to see our children be the special interest