1 – Save the date! Class Size Matters Annual Skinny Award Dinner will be held Tuesday, June 20; the venue and honorees TBA. It’s always a fun evening with good food, great company and an opportunity to reconnect, celebrate our victories together and gain inspiration for the battles to come. Please be there if you can!
2. The NYS Education Department has proposed a new school accountability system under the federal law known as ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). The Regents have not yet accepted this proposal and are gathering input through public hearings happening now through Friday, June 16, 2017 as listed here, starting Monday night in Staten Island and Tuesday in the Bronx.
ESSA allows states more leeway to shape their accountability systems than did its predecessor No Child Left Behind – and to include a range of school quality factors in addition to test scores and graduation rates. Yet NYSED’s proposal falls short in many ways by failing to move away sufficiently from NCLB's damaging high-stakes testing regime and towards a new evidence-based accountability system that would incentivize schools to provide the sort of well-rounded education that research shows improves students’ chances at success and that parents want for their children.
Instead, the state’s ESSA proposal is overly simplistic, and could undermine children’s opportunity for an equitable and quality education. It would also likely brand schools with high opt-rates as failing and need of comprehensive support. It’s important that parents attend these hearings and make their voices heard.
For a summary of what’s wrong with the NYSED proposal, and what Class Size Matters and NYSAPE would like to see instead, including offering incentives for schools to provide an equitable well-rounded education with small classes, art, music, physical education, and more, please click here (pdf) or here (in word) for our fact sheet. If you do attend these hearings, please let me know and feel free to draw from our talking points. The public can also email their comments through Friday, June 16, 2017 to ESSAcomments@nysed.gov.
3. I had a letter last week in the NY Times about why expanding charter schools will NOT lead to more equity, and may actually hurt those children who need our help the most -- as opposed to class size reduction, which narrows the opportunity and the achievement gap. Speaking of class size, Congress voted to cut Title IIA funds by $300 million -- about 12.5% -- through September-- funds that NYC and many high-needs districts use to prevent class size increases. Meanwhile, President Trump wants to eliminate Title IIA funding altogether for the next fiscal year. For a copy of my letter, more on Trump’s damaging proposal, and how the new President of France Emmanuel Macron has proposed capping class sizes in high-poverty schools at 12 students per class, check out my blog here.
Hope to see you at the Skinny’s on June 20 – and thanks!