A new report contends that more than 100,000 NYC kids -- disproportionately children from immigrant families -- are crammed into jam-packed schools and asks that the city fund an equivalent number of new classroom seats to ease the crowding crunch.
"Where's My Seat? How School Overcrowding Disproportionately Impacts Immigrant Communities in New York City," issued by the immigrant advocacy organization Make The Road New York, blasted the Department of Education's capital plan as inadequate. It wants the DOE to replace temporary trailers with classrooms, allocate more seats to immigrant-dense school districts, and for the city to make school construction a priority when expanding housing stock. MRNY also wants the city to create and coordinate a task force to address overcrowding and better meet the needs of the city's immigrants.
"Immigrant communities in places like Corona, Elmhurst, Sunset Park, and Kingsbridge have larger overcrowding problems and unmet needs in the DOE's current Capital Plan -- meaning their overcrowding problems will be more likely to persist," said the paper. The paper cited another analysis that used different measures and determined that almost 540,000 students citywide "study in overcrowded schools."
A spokeswoman for the DOE said the department is aware of overcrowding and "we are committed to work with families, educators and partners around how to alleviate this. Through our Capital Plan we are committing $4 billion to open nearly 40,000 new seats -- including 4,000 new seats in District 24 alone -- and to remove trailers." The neighborhoods of Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village are in District 24, according to insideschools.org.
Schools spokeswoman Devora Kaye noted there are more than 1,500 language access coordinators in the city schools and said the department will continue "to engage families, community members and elected officials to ensure we are doing everything possible to provide the high-quality facilities that help our students thrive."
Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said in a statement that she supports MRNY's recommendations and hoped the Council would establish "a citywide Task Force that can tackle the issue on a citywide level."
State senator Jose Peralta (D-Corona, Elmhurst) said that chronic school overcrowding "hurts all public school students, especially immigrant children, who for years have been learning in rundown trailers and classrooms that far exceed a reasonable capacity."