Thursday, October 28, 2021

Important update on class size bill & how you can help; plus deadline to opt out of SEL screener

1. Check out the compelling testimony including videos from yesterday's hearings on Intro 2374  and the importance of lowering class size, from Regent Kathy Cashin, Diane Ravitch, Elsie McCabe Thompson and others. Diane Ravitch testified that lowering class size would be the most powerful education reform the Council could enact.

My written testimony is here.  If you’d like to add your voice, you can upload your thoughts in the form of a doc  through Saturday on the Council website here. If you do write something, please also send it to at so I can post it on my website.

2. As expected, DOE officials expressed total opposition to the class size bill, claiming it would take decades to build enough seats and that it would be "disruptive" to schools, though of course, overcrowded classrooms and schools are hugely disruptive to the quality of education NYC students receive. Not one of them claimed that achieving smaller classes would not be beneficial for kids,  and in fact, Deputy Chief Academic Officer Lawrence Pendergast testified that "no pedagogue would disagree" that class size matters.

Though DOE officials claimed that it would take 200,000 seats to provide the additional space required, the IBO estimates the real number is about 100,000 seats. My view is that the DOE cannot be trusted to come up with an accurate figure since they still haven't complied with Local Law 167 passed two years ago, that required them to explain their methodology for estimating the need for new school seats as laid out in the Capital plan. Council Education Chair Mark Treyger pointed out that the Mayor had created thousands of PreK and 3K seats nearly overnight, and that creating space for lowering class size could be done, given the same impetus and political will.

So far 28 Council members have signed onto the class size bill, Intro 2374 , so please check the link for the names of the co-sponsors and if your CM is not listed, please give them a call. You can find their names and phone numbers here. We have only a few short weeks before the Council turns over to a nearly entirely new cast of characters, so this is urgent!

3. The DOE has contracted with a company that produces a social emotional screener which teachers are supposed to fill out for their students starting next week. DOE has said that parents have the right to opt out of this screener, called DESSA, though many have not been informed of that right. Many parents also have serious concerns about the privacy, security, reliability and use of the resulting data, issues I have written about here.  

If you decide to opt out, you have till tomorrow, Friday October 29 to do so. If you haven't been told about a specific form to fill out, you can opt out by emailing your principal and copying your parent coordinator, informing them of your decision; be sure to include your child's name, class and OSIS number as well.

Thanks , Leonie

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