Wednesday, December 21, 2022

My comments at last night's PEP meeting in opposition to the co-location of a Success charter in a D22 high school building

Update 12.22.22:  At last night's Panel for Educational Policy meeting, Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg insisted that there will be enough space in the building for Origins HS to lower class size to mandated levels even after this co-location of a Success elementary charter school in the building; while providing no evidence to back up his claim. The proposal passed 10-5, with all the mayoral appointees voting to approve the co-location, joined by the Staten Island borough appointeeI was the last to speak after countless others -- after the DOE had left me off the list.

My name is Leonie Haimson, the Executive Director of Class Size Matters, and I’m here to speak against the co-location of Success Academy in Building K495, and in fact all the co-locations of Success charters that have been proposed for Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx. 

As many parents and teachers have pointed out during the public hearings, there is no mention in either the Educational Impact Statement or the Building Utilization Plan for this co-location or indeed any of these co-locations of the need to lower class size, according to the bill signed into law by the Governor in September.  Meanwhile, somewhere between 56%-80% of the 69 classes at Origins High School do not comply with the class size caps in the new law.     

In addition, more than 80% of District 22 high school classes in D 22 did not make the class size cap of 25.  This means that many more classrooms will be needed at Origins HS and in the district as a whole to achieve the smaller classes mandated by the law.  Yet the Instructional Footprint on which the EIS and BUP bases their estimation of space explicitly assumes current class sizes will continue into the indefinite future.  

In addition, neither this EIS nor any of the others actually describe any of the Educational impacts that these co-locations  will cause; in some cases, the loss to students of a science lab, the loss of intervention and support spaces for students with disabilities, or the loss of access to the gym,  or the cafeteria at reasonable times. 

·       In fact, no educational impacts are described in any of these documents, only an abstract accounting of how many rooms each school should get, according to an arbitrary formula that doesn’t allow for either smaller classes or require any of the other elements of a quality education.

Chancellor Banks, I was encouraged by your interview with Marcia Kramer on Sunday, where you appeared to embrace the opportunity to lower class size, and said you want "to ensure that our kids have a great school experience," and you realized that this would require the building of “dozens of new schools.” 

Then why are you proposing these co-locations that will take away necessary space, and why has the DOE cut the capital plan for new capacity by over $1.6 billion dollars and over 11,000 seats since you took office?

Instead, we need a real plan to ensure that all schools and all students will have the benefit of smaller classes in the time frame specified in the law;  rather than any more co-locations that will deprive NYC public school students of their long -awaited opportunity to be provided with their right, according to the state’s highest court, to a sound basic education.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.

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