Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The scant amount the final budget devotes to a "pilot" for class size reduction


Instead of the $250 million the City Council proposed to hire more teachers to lower class size, the Mayor would agree to only $18 million, for a "pilot" project in a few schools even though class size reduction is a proven way to improve learning and doesn't need piloting. 

In a Chalkbeat article, I called the amount "piddling."   I also said that the de Blasio's stubborn and irrational opposition to lowering class size during his two terms in office, in contradiction to the many promises he made both before and after becoming Mayor, is "a very sad end to a mediocre mayoral record when it comes to our schools.”

Indeed, $18 million is a tiny amount compared to the approximately $8 billion in additional state and federal education aid our schools are receiving, and an even tinier amount compared to the $38 billion or so in annual DOE spending. 

At a roundtable discussion of the Bronx Parent Leaders Advocacy Group last week, Chancellor Porter said that the DOE is "looking to do the pilot and also to looking to do a study" to help them develop "strategic ways to lower class size over time." She said they want "to continue the conversation; it's starts with the pilot but doesn't end there."  We will see what that means.  The final budget agreement (p.34) holds that any required reporting by the DOE on the use of the class size reduction dollars is not due till February 15, 2022;  by that time the Mayor will be out of office, and she may be as well.  

The full video of the discussion in which Bronx parents explained why they believe the DOE should continue to offer remote options to students next year is well worth watching.  The entire event is on Zoom here. My comments on the crying need for smaller classes next year and Chancellor's response are below, at about 37.37 minutes in.    

  [If the video doesn't show up below, try another browser like Chrome.]

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