This morning we held a press conference at City Hall Park, along with State Legislators, advocates, parents, teachers and Congressman Jamaal Bowman, urging Gov. Hochul to sign the class size bill as soon as possible.
This bill was passed with overwhelming support in the State legislature on June 3, and whose enactment would help prevent or minimize some of the drastic cuts to schools that the Mayor and the Chancellor have proposed. Thirty eight elected officials, including from Congress, the Legislature, and the City Council have signed a letter, asking her to do so.
The presser was organized by Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, who are both mothers with children in the NYC public schools and are distraught about how their schools will be losing teachers and programs next year due to the Mayor's savage cuts.
|Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas
Chris Nelson, a parent at Arts and Letters school in Brooklyn spoke about how her son has finally been able to have the benefit of smaller classes this year, as a result of the enrollment decline, and has thrived as a result; and how destructive it would be to force class sizes upwards again.
Rep. Bowman was eloquent about how as a former principal, he knows how crucial class size is to the quality of education students receive, and how unfair it is that children in part of his district in Scarsdale are provided with far smaller classes than the Bronx children in another part of his district.
He added that these cuts will hamper the city's ability not just to improve education, but also public safety, health and the city's economy -- and that they are inexcusable, given the $8 billion the federal government has sent to NYC schools to help our students recover from the multiple disruptions and traumas of the pandemic.
Senator Jabari Brisport, a former teacher, agreed that smaller classes were desperately needed in the city schools; and Sen. Robert Jackson spoke about his twenty-year effort to ensure education equity for NYC students, first as the original plaintiff in the CFE lawsuit and now as the original sponsor of the class size bill last session.
Zakiyah Ansari of AQE spoke about their fight to get full Foundation Aid to NYC schools, which was finally achieved and will be fulfilled over the next two years, to the tune of $1.3 billion, and smaller classes should be the result of that successful struggle.
Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon spoke as former special ed teacher and attorney, and an expert on dyslexia. She pointed out that the Mayor's literacy initiative, while laudable, will not work with large class sizes.
|Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon
|Rep. Bowman, Sen. Brisport, our petition and me
My brief speech and a copy of the petition we emailed to the Governor tonight is below, signed by more than 7,000 of her constituents.
Many of the petition signers added comments and explanations of why it is critical that she sign the bill now, to prevent these cuts and begin the crucial process of reducing class size now.