Probably you’ve seen one the many ads that are running on TV, radio and bus shelters – touting the great improvements in our public schools and telling us to “Keep the Progress going.” In one of these ads, a teacher claims, proudly, “our classes are smaller.” (See the ads here.)Is this true? We can look at recent data from the IBO to determine the validity of this claim.
If you look at the citywide averages, class sizes appear to be shrinking by less than 1% per year. To be exact, average class sizes are declining by about .3%, (that’s point 3%, not 3%) in K-3 and in grades 4-8 by about .8% (point 8%) each year. This, despite the fact that enrollment is dropping much more rapidly – by 1.5% annually in K-3, and 3.1% in grades 4-8th.
Which means that the administration has made absolutely no effort to keep classes small, but to the contrary is subtracting hundreds of classes -- and teachers -- each year. (You can click on the graph on the right to enlarge it.)
If we had class size goals similar to those that the state of Florida has achieved for nearly every school in the state, of 18 kids per class in grades K-3 and 22 kids in 4-8th grades, it would take over 40 years to reach these goals in the early grades, and 19 years for 4-8th grades. Unless of course, enrollment trends change over the next 40 years, which is quite possible.
Moreover, in more than half of districts, class sizes are actually increasing -- either in K-3, 4-8 or both.
The Fund for Public Schools is financing these deceptive ads – once a legitimate charity, established to provide extra services and resources to our kids in the public schools – but now is pursuing a nakedly political campaign to burnish Bloomberg's image and ensure that Mayoral control is kept intact. Their PR campaign is called “Keep it going” and it asks for donations, in part, by saying that contributions will offer families tools and resources to support their children's education."
But when you search for these tools and resources, all they appear to be providing is no-cost website advice, reused from other organizations, like a list of back-to-school supplies, including those all important No. 2 pencils. If we had ten million dollars, we could put on ads refuting DOE’s claims; unfortunately all we parents have is this blog.