Updated: Latest Talk out of School podcast ran excerpts from the press conference remarks and also interviewed Landmark school teachers Andrew Castellano & Daniel Highsmith & Beruryah Batyehudah, parent of a 1st grader in which the class sizes are 29 and 31.
A press conference was held yesterday at the Landmark Elementary School, a Title One school in Brooklyn that has class sizes of 27-31 in the early grades. UFT President Michael Mulgrew spoke, along with AQE's
Zakiyah Ansari, Landmark teachers and
parents, and many elected officials, explainin how the growing class sizes have undermined
the quality of education for NYC students. Among other issues, the UFT found that hundreds of Title One schools with over 300,000 students have more than half of their classes exceeding the limits in the new law this year. Check out the Class size Matters website for more about the speakers at the event, and more photos. Here are some news links: City & State, ABC7, Gothamist, NY1, Fox5 NY. Below are the comments of Andrea Castellano, the UFT chapter leader of the school.
My name is Andrea Castellano and I am chapter leader and
3rd grade teacher at Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School. I stand here today in
support of the Class Size Law and to ask the Department of Education to fully
fund our schools.
Brooklyn Landmark is a great school. But we do have some
big classes. We take that as a sign that parents across District 23 trust us
with their children. We offer excellent instruction and a vibrant,
child-friendly learning environment and we try our best to provide our students
with the skills and the confidence they need for their journey ahead.
But despite all our efforts, there are still elements
beyond our control that affect our work. Simple mathematics tells you that
class size significantly affects the amount of time we as teachers spend with
each small group, the number of times we can work closely with students 1 on 1,
the amount of feedback we give. With smaller classes, teachers can more
efficiently pace lessons, cover more material, and create more opportunities
Class size not only affects our students’ academic
progress, but their emotional well-being and sense of belonging as well. It
impacts the type of attention they receive when there’s an issue or a concern.
Classrooms are calmer and everything feels less stressed. Smaller class sizes
are just better for building relationships and creating that close-knit
community that we all want for our children in their school.
These are the foundational years of their development.
They deserve the best we can give them. But so many of our educational
challenges are related to class size. In order for our work to be successful,
the proper supports must be in place. We can’t afford to wait years for funding
to materialize because what’s happening now in our classrooms will shape these
young people for years to come.
I’m asking the mayor and city council to give NYC’s
public schools the support we need to keep class sizes small— so those of us
working in these schools can ensure that each child’s needs are truly being
met, every day. Thank you.