Today, a vote is scheduled in the Legislature on a bill , A10498/ S09460 that would require NYC DOE to phase in class size caps in all NYC public schools to be achieved over five years – to no more than 20 students in K-3, 23 students in 4th to 8th grades, and 25 students in HS academic classes. There are real enforceability mechanisms attached to the law, including that state funding would be withheld if the city doesn’t follow through on its commitments to achieve a 20% reduction in class size each year. The bill is supported by our elected leaders and a majority of both houses,
The bill is quite strong and close to the legislation that was introduced last session by Senator Robert Jackson and AM Jo Anne Simon, and will likely be voted on today or tomorrow. If the bill passes, as it is expected to, and signed by the Governor, this represents a huge victory for NYC kids, and for all of you who helped push for this– as well as the generations of advocates, parents, teachers, and elected officials who have demanded smaller classes over many decades, in the realization that it was unfair that NYC students should have to suffer from class sizes that were far larger than those experienced by students in the rest of the state.
There was also a consensus among our elected officials that with the $1.3 billion in additional state aid flowing to our schools as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, in which excessive class size was a central focus of the court decision, it was finally time to address this problem and solve it once and for all. There are some additions to the bill that allow exemptions to the law, but in our reading, only temporarily and in times of great economic distress. All of us will have to keep an eye out to ensure that these exceptions are invoked one time only, and under extreme conditions.
Gothamist has a good article about the class size bill, which also includes a short discussion of the Mayoral control bill that was submitted at the same time. That bill extends the Mayor’s control for only two more years, and expands the PEP to include more parent representatives selected directly by parents, while keeping a Mayoral majority. In addition, it puts the NYC Comptroller on the PEP as a non-voting member, to provide guidance on finances and contracts, and requires that the PEP members receive six hours of training in fiscal oversight, both of which we advocated for in our testimony to the Legislature, proposals that were also adopted by the Education Council Consortium.
Neither the class size bill nor the Mayoral control bill has been voted on yet, but we expect they will be approved either later today or tomorrow before the legislative session ends. And hopefully signed by the Governor sooner rather than later. Cross your fingers and toes!
We will include more info on the new class size and Mayoral control bills during our Parent Action Conference, co-hosted by NYC Kids PAC, to be held this Saturday, June 4 at 4 PM. For more info and to sign up now, click here.
Meanwhile, I hope you all savor this extraordinary victory to come for NYC students, and your own part in helping to achieve it.
Thanks as always, Leonie