Thursday, August 5, 2021

Amanda Vender, parent and ENL teacher, explains in her C4E comments why putting extra teachers in the classroom is NOT as beneficial as reducing class size

The last borough hearing for the DOE's proposed Contract for Excellence's "plan" is tonight, Thursday,
August 5 at 6:30 PM at Isaac Newton Middle School for Math & Science, 260 Pleasant Avenue, New York, NY 10029, 2nd floor auditorium.  You can send in your comment via email as well to  

Below are comments sent in by Amanda Vender, Queens parent and ENL teacher, who points out from her professional experience how putting extra teachers in the classroom does not provide the same benefits as a smaller class size.  While the DOE's proposed plan allocates nearly $100 million to put extra teachers in a classroom for inclusion and NEST classes,  not a single penny is targeted specifically towards class size reduction.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a public school ENL teacher and public school parent in Queens. I am concerned that our class sizes in NYC are 15-30% larger than classes in other parts of the state. That’s why I’m so pleased to know that we now have $530 million additional aid from the State to lower class size, concurrent with the CFE legal decision. I urge you to ensure these funds are used as they are intended, to lower class size.

As an ENL teacher who has taught both push-in and stand-alone classes, I can confirm what the research shows: having a second teacher in a room is nowhere near as good as a smaller class size. As you can imagine, only one teacher can speak to the whole class at a time. During that time, the second teacher can’t do much other than help direct students’ attention to the teacher speaking, or wait around. It is not a good use of our professionals’ time. During group work and independent work, both teachers can circulate in the room and offer support or work with targeted groups, but students’ ability to focus in a classroom of 30 students is much less than compared to a classroom of 15 or 20 students.

I teach high school students who are new immigrants and have interrupted formal education. (SIFE) A portion of our ninth graders have not been in school for several years. They have been out fishing or doing agricultural work full-time in their home country. They are not used to sitting at a desk and engaging with print text. While we have excellent curriculum resources provided by CUNY Grad Center and the NYS DOE to quickly develop these students’ literacy skills in English, we cannot achieve this without small class size.

My own children attend IS145, across the street from where we’re meeting tonight. I observe that class sizes there are always at the maximum, 30 students. 90% of students there are Latinx, 90% are low-income and many students are English Language Learners. The school is one of few middle schools in the area with a dual-language bilingual program. How can children learn a second or third language effectively in a class of 30 students, especially in a school that remains intensely segregated like IS145, where so many students speak Spanish at home? Students need exposure to English and opportunities to practice speaking that cannot be achieved in a class of 30 students. 

A large body of research confirms my statements. I urge you to use the funds to mandate smaller class size immediately.

Thank you,

Amanda Vender

Parent in District 30

ENL teacher in District 24


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