Monday, October 24, 2022

Surprisingly little change in NAEP scores for NYC students compared to NYS & nation; & NCES finds no link between school closures and scores

The NAEP results were released today for every state and many large urban districts.  Unsurprisingly, given the disruptions to learning due to the pandemic,  most states saw significantly declines in all four areas tested:  4th and 8th grade reading and math.  The declines in math were especially large.  

In NYC, 4th grade math scores dropped but so did 22 other districts; and somewhat surprisingly, there was no significant change in NYC scores in the three other categories: 8th grade math, 4th grade reading or 8th grade reading.

NYC scores declined less  than many other districts and better than NY state as a whole, which showed significant drops in all four areas, including 4th grade math and reading, as well as 4th & 8th grade math.

You can check out the data for reading and math.  

Especially given the bitter and ongoing controversy over school closures and remote learning, here is the quote of the day from NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr: 

 “There’s nothing in this data that tells us that there is a measurable difference in the performance between states and districts based solely on how long schools were closed."

 Below is a pdf copy of screenshots captured off today's NCES online webinar, with titles I've added focusing on NY State and NYC results.  Comments welcome. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Testimony about how NY school districts are openly violating the moratorium of the use of biometric technology in schools

Last week, I testified on behalf the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy before the New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) about the use of biometric surveillance technology in schools, for a report that will be submitted to the NYSED commissioner, as well as the legislature and governor.  I focused on how districts throughout the state, including in NYC, are not complying with the state moratorium on the use of facial recognition in schools that was passed by the New York Legislature in 2020, and are sharing this highly sensitive data with third parties that also violate the state student privacy law, Education Law S2d. .  

Here is a good article about these hearings .  Other groups who provided testimony included NYCLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the the Security Industry Association. Perhaps the most disturbing testimony was given by Jim Shultz, a parent at the Lockport School District, whose short-lived use of biometric student surveillance triggered this moratorium and revealed huge inconsistencies and errors.  A recording of these hearings is posted here.

People who are concerned about the use of this technology can submit comments through Oct. 28 here.  My comments are below.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Forum on the "real deal" on school budgets: Join us on Oct. 25 at 6 PM!


Please attend this "Real deal" budget forum sponsored by Senator Robert Jackson next Tuesday October 25 at 6PM.

I'll be speaking along with others on how we can avoid and even reverse the damaging budget cuts to our schools. 
Sign up now at  Here are flyers you can post or share in Spanish and English.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

My visit to a school that has welcomed 50 migrant students but with no more funding, despite confusing claims by DOE

credit: NY Times

Below I describe my visit to a school that has accepted about 50 migrant students with open arms, but doesn’t have the funding necessary to fully meet their needs.  I was quoted in the NY Post as saying it is both irrational and irresponsible for DOE deny these schools with additional funding,  and instead to rely on  volunteer efforts by parents and other students.  No child should have to translate for her classmates as this child at another school has been asked to do, according to her interview on NY 1:  “If they have work and I have work, I have to do my work too,” she said. “I’m not a grownup yet, but I wish I could be and help them a lot. But I’m not a grown up yet.”

Currently, the DOE spokesperson insists that they have provided $25 million more to schools with enrollments larger than originally projected; however it's not clear if this pertains specifically to the schools that have seen large numbers of migrant students, who have special needs over and above simply enrollment increase.  

Comptroller Brad Lander has estimated that given an estimate of 5,500 migrant students, their schools should receive at least $34 million according to the Fair Student Funding system alone; not counting extra funding for 3K, PreK or other additional needs that these students may have. And the latest estimates for the number of these students keeps increasing, and is now up to 6,100 .

The school I visited  hasn't received  an extra penny, and the principal was told that she would have to wait until November or beyond, for the standard mid-year adjustment to their budget.  

When asked when these schools with large numbers of migrant students would receive more funding, Chancellor Banks said at the CPAC meeting this week, and again at a  D75 Town Hall meeting, that they were waiting for  federal government to kick in with more aid.  Here's the exact quote from the Chancellor at CPAC meeting. 

“You might want to be as helpful as possible but if you don't have the dollars I think the sense here is that the federal government will at some point is going to come and provide a level of support um you've got midterm elections that are happening over the next couple of weeks so that's a lot of this is political as well in terms of when the aid and the support will come but I think I think here in New York the leadership feels as though the federal government is not going to abandon us here.”

However, the DOE still has over more than four billion dollars of unspent federal Covid aid, and an $8 billion reserve fund, so the idea that they couldn't front the money to schools before the feds provide more dollars is absurd.  The account of my visit to this school follows. 

 If your school has enrolled significant numbers of new migrant students and has gotten more funding to support these students, or has not received this funding despite the need, please let us know at


A few weeks ago I visited a Title One school that has enrolled about 50 migrant students from several different countries over the past few weeks.  The school has gone from  86% utilization to over 104%.

Last year, most classes were under 20 students per class; now class sizes have grown, and all the Kindergartens are at 25 – the maximum according to the UFT contract.  Some of the inclusion classes are now as large as 27 and 30 students per class.

The principal recounted how she lost several teachers due to the budget cuts this year; and also has been unable to replace several teachers  who resigned or who were unwilling to be vaccinated.  

She has asked DOE for more funding given the enrollment increase and the high level of need of these students, with families are housed at a hotel nearby.  Many of the migrant students traveled 2-3 months through Central America/Mexico to get here.  Many were bused from Texas without their consent.  Others are escaping war zones.

If she received more funding, the principal said she would hire more teachers, as well as  a  Spanish-speaking bilingual social worker and  Spanish-speaking bilingual counselor. She also needs more funding to pay for iPads; the new families with two students have had to share a single iPad because she doesn’t have enough.

 However, the  DOE has told her that she will receive no more funding until at least November.

The after school program is filled to capacity; and while the principal has asked YMCA and DOE for 60 more slots but this request was also denied.

The school is in a co-located building, and because of the overcrowding, the library has been turned into a room for OT/PT/specialists with makeshift partitions.  Still we saw children receiving their services in the hallway. 

 The Parent coordinator shares a small room – formerly a storage  space w/no windows -- with the safety coordinator and other personnel.  Another room that was a classroom/TV studio now houses their school psychologist, counselor, and social worker, who lost their office space when a 3K was added to the school last year.

The parents and staff at the school have been wonderful; Parents have brought bags of school supplies and clothes for the new families.  Teachers have volunteered to do their laundry by taking it home with them weekly.  The principal has also  tried to set up OSHA training for the families in an effort to help them secure employment but is encountering many obstacles in the process.  They desperately need jobs as they are receiving no cash assistance from the city.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The very basic flaws in the Fair Student Funding formula

 Below are the comments I made at the Fair Student Funding Task Force session this afternoon.  Though I focused on the issue of class size of course, others contributed critical comments on other aspects for the formula; including the way it provides  extra funding to the specialized high schools despite the fact that their students are among the highest achieving in the city, the manner in which DOE makes cuts to schools via the mid-year adjustment forcing schools to excess teachers after the school year has begun (does  any other school district that uses a weighted student funding system do this?); and the under funding of schools who have to wait for November or beyond for more funding even though their enrollments are higher than projected, including schools that have gotten scores of new migrant students without the staff to teach them; and more.  

Not to mention that the formula insufficiently supports the needs of any students, so any increase in the amount provided to poor students, or those who are homeless or have disabilities would inevitably cut funding from other students, in a zero sum fashion.  A rough transcript of the proceedings is here; more info about the materials and minutes of the Working Group is here.

 If you want to send in comments, you can email ; deadline Oct. 27.  Thanks!


My name is Leonie Haimson and I’m the Executive Director of Class Size Matters.v There are some very basic flaws in in the Fair Student Funding system:

1-      The formula provides insufficient resources to ensure that schools can meet basic student needs – forcing principals to excess staff and cut critical programs and services, as seen from this year’s the budget cuts that have had hugely damaging impacts on most schools.

2-      The formula was designed in 2007 to incentivize principals to maximize class size – which is not only harmful to student learning but also in conflict with new state class size law, recently signed by the Governor. The FSF Taskforce created by the City Council in 2019 surveyed principals, of whom 80% of the identified large class sizes as a consequence of the FSF formula.[1] 

3-      The entire school funding system must be realigned to ensure that schools can meet the new staffing needs mandated by the law. 

4-      Relevant to this issue is how the programs prioritized by successive administrations have been funded separately from the Fair Student Funding and are instead funded on the basis of the need to staff entire classes, rather than individual students, as the previous DOE funding system was designed to do before FSF was introduced.

5-      There is precedent for creating a whole separate allocation system for smaller classes.  In fact, 3K and PreK classes are not subject to the formula.  Instead, schools are funded for an entire 3K and preK class no matter its size, and then capped at 15-18  students, with one classroom teacher  and one classroom paraprofessional. If there are more students per class than these caps, schools receive funding for a whole new class. This is so that they can meet the state law that caps class sizes in these grades. Special education PreK classes are capped at even smaller levels, with additional service providers. [2]

6-      The DOE also provides additional funding outside the formula to each school to “sustain Gifted and Talented (G&T) programs with enrollment lower than 18 students” in grades K-3, though the regular class sizes in these grades can be as large as 25 (in Kindergarten) and 32  ( in grades 1st-3rd.) [3]  This additional funding totaled more than $2.8 million last year and allowed schools to keep gifted classes in some schools as small as six to eight students per class.[4]

 Whether within the flawed FSF system or in a separate school allocation, as currently exists for 3K, preK and gifted classes, this task force should propose the creation of an additional funding mechanism to support and ensure the phase in of smaller classes in grades K-12, at the legally prescribed levels.


[3] This is the language from the FY 2022 School Allocation Memo entitled “Gifted and Talented Supplemental. The FY 2023 SAM has not yet been posted, though the DOE disclosed in a presentation dated May 2022 that they intended to spend $2 million  in federal ARPA funds to expand gifted & talented programming for FY 23.