Friday, May 31, 2024

Amanda Vender, Queens parent and teacher, critiques the vagueness of the DOE class size plan & their intention to expand online learning.

Here is another comment from last night's Queens hearing on the DOE's class size plan, pointing out how vague it is, this one provided by Amanda Vender, Queens parent and teacher.  This critique was echoed by many of the other parents and teachers who spoke. 


Amanda also pointed out how the city loses families each year to private schools because of the large class sizes in our public schools, and blasts the DOE's intention to using online learning instead of providing sufficient space by building more schools.  This idea of expanding virtual instruction is vehemently opposed by most NYC parents, especially given its failure during the pandemic.


I am a public school ENL [English as a New Language] teacher and public school parent in Queens. My children are currently in classes with sizes of 30 and up. The classes where I teach are smaller than that, but ELLs [English Language Learners] need much smaller classes for teachers to be effective with this special population that is brand new to English and in a new country. I have excellent student teachers from Queens College ready to take jobs. Yet the principals I’ve talked to are completely in the dark about how the class size law will affect their school.


I am outraged that our class sizes in NYC are still 15-30% larger than classes in other parts of the state. Every year I hear parents of means talk about enrolling their child in a private school for lower class sizes. It’s not right. New York is a very wealthy state and now we have the money to give our kids the attention with the class sizes they deserve. 


The money from the State is there. Lower class sizes. There is no better investment than this. Hire teachers, build new schools. Put the $6.8 billion you plan to spend on new jails into building new schools. It is appalling that the City appears to still be resisting lowering our class sizes decades since the NY Court of Appeals found the City was not providing a sound basic education for our kids. 


Your plan isn’t specific enough. Please use SMART goals like we teach our students. You need to show which schools and how many classes will meet the new sizes. Your plan needs to be more specific about recruiting, supporting and retaining teachers. We need to see benchmarks to meet projected needs. 


Lastly, we saw the dismal effect of virtual learning necessitated by the pandemic. Most students experienced terrible academic and social outcomes with virtual learning. Why does the DOE class size reduction plan include more virtual learning? It almost seems like the City wants to set up our students to be academically unprepared. Enough already. Do what NY State and the public is asking. Follow the law. Make a real plan with SMART goals.


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