Tuesday, September 25, 2012

6100 classes that violate union contractual limits this fall

This morning, at a press conference, Michael Mulgrew president of the UFT announced that over 6,100 classes at 670 NYC public schools this fall violate contractual class size limits, compared to 660 schools last year. 
This means that class sizes are above these (already too-high) levels: more than 25 students per class in Kindergarten; more than 32 students in grades 1-5; more than 33 students in non-Title one middle schools; more than 30 students in Title one MS; and more than 34 students in high school academic classes. 
In addition, there are 270 schools where self-contained special education class sizes exceed what is required on their students’ IEPs -- more than double the number last year.  The UFT estimates that nearly a quarter of all students are spending part or all their days in schools in overcrowded classes.  While many of these violations will eventually be addressed, last year the DOE took up to seven months to do so!  The first arbitration hearings are in October. 
Last week, the city released the Mayor’s Management Report, confirming the dismal long term trend in class size; up in every grade since 2007-8, as we already knew:
The number of teachers has also been cut sharply by about 8 percent since 2007-8; a trend that the DOE for some reason calls “Neutral” (as they also describe the increase in class size in 4th-8th grades.)   

These trends are especially horrific, considering the state "Contracts for Excellence" law passed in 2007, mandating that NYC begin reducing class size in all grades.
What are the specific policy decisions that DOE has taken that have contributed to the increases in class size?
  •   Repeated budget cuts to schools, of about 14% since 2007; while funds spent on contracts, consultants and bureaucrats keep growing.
  • The elimination of the Early Grade class size reduction program that had existed since 1999, in which schools were provided with targeted funding to keep classes to 20 or less in grades K-3.  This program was eliminated in 2010 despite the city’s promise to the state to retain it as part of its Contract for Excellence plan.
  • The DOE decided to stop abiding by its side-agreement with the UFT to keep classes in grades 1-3 to 28 students or less last year; which had existed for decades.  This has caused sharp increases in classes over 30 in the early grades.
  • More school overcrowding, caused by rising enrollment, co-locations, and the city’s failure to align its capital plan with its class size reduction plan, as required by state law.
  • This fall, the DOE told principals that as part of the new special education initiative, they could no longer cap enrollment or class sizes at their schools below maximum levels if there were any additional children with IEPs in their catchment areas.
Ultimately, this is Michael Bloomberg's responsibility and he is hurting our kids.  For more on these issues, see our summary report below.
What Has Happened to NYC Class Sizes over the last five years and why?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With more than 1200 teachers in the absent teacher reserve, the UFT should go beyond the contract and straight to the courts to address the malfeasance by the DOE. There is absolutely no justification of their actions and any court would agree.