Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Class size press conference at the Title One Landmark elementary school in Brooklyn

            Andrea Castellano at Landmark school press conference    (photo credit: Melissa Khan)

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 photosHere are some news links: City & State, ABC7, Gothamist, NY1, Fox5 NYBelow 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 for differentiation.

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.

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