A group of over 1,000 New York City parents, guardians and other stakeholders have signed a petition asking New York State Governor Kathy Hochul to veto a NYC class size mandate bill which would require smaller class sizes in public schools.
“There might be something about a funding source or a responsibility that’s, you know, on the shoulders of the state right now — and I have to make sure I’m protecting the state taxpayers as well,” Hochul said on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show Aug 25 . “So there are some loose ends, but philosophically it’s something I’m supporting.”
New York State legislature passed the bill to decrease class size in June, which would implement a cap of 20 to 25 students per classroom by 2027 – a drastic change from the current 30 to 34 student cap.
Supporters of the bill believe that smaller class sizes allow a more hands-on approach for educators to interact with students on a more personal level, with some research indicating that smaller class sizes lead to higher test scores, higher in-class participation and attendance.
However, NYC Mayor Adams – along with parents like Chu – believe that the legislation would cost the Department of Education (DOE) millions of dollars a year to expand classroom space and hire more educators and staff – which is especially challenging with the ongoing national teacher shortage.
“While this administration strongly supports lower class sizes, unless there is guaranteed funding attached to those mandates, we will see cuts elsewhere in the system that would harm our most vulnerable students in our highest-need communities,” a City Hall spokesperson said last Thursday.
Chu and other supporters of the petition also believe that these expenses will also force DOE schools to cut programs like special education services, academic tutoring, mental-health services, school-safety agents, after school programs and programs like Summer Rising and 3K.
These parents also believe that some of Mayor Adams’ initiatives like dyslexia screening and evidence-based reading programs will also see program funding loss.
“Parents I talk to want safe, neighborhood schools with rigorous academics and robust after school options,” says Yiatin Chu, a public school parent and President of Asian Wave Alliance. “Working families want more programs like Summer Rising and AP courses. Class size is frankly not a top concern of students or parents, and certainly not at the expense of successful programs.”
NYC DOE schools lost a significant amount of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and a projected 30,000 more could be lost this school year. The bill would only harm the remaining students, some parents argue.
“This is an unfunded mandate that seeks to forcefully redirect funds for services that families want that support the education and well-being of their children,” said Mona Davids, public school parent and president of NYC Parents Union. “This bill directly hurts students and impedes the efforts of Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks to provide students with all of the programs and services they need at this time.”
Last updated 8/31/22 11:24 am