Class Size Law Takes Opportunities Away From Students By Decreasing Seats in Popular Gifted & Talented, Accelerated & Advanced Placement Programs, Specialized and Performing Arts Schools
(New York, NY – September 22, 2023) Parent-led education advocacy group, PLACE NYC, calls on Governor Kathy Hochul, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Speaker Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate Chair of NYC Education John Liu, Senate Chair of Education Shelley B. Mayer, Assembly Chair of Education Michael Benedetto and New York State Legislators to exempt high-performing successful schools and classrooms from the implementation of the disastrous unfunded $2B Class Size legislation. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) should instead be allowed to focus its limited resources to support students in high poverty, low performing schools that already meet the class size caps mandated by the new law, using more cost effective methods and tools to improve academic outcomes—instead of eliminating seats at schools in high demand.
The State must immediately amend the law to exempt the following classrooms and schools from the Class Size law:
- All Gifted & Talented classrooms and schools
- All middle school classrooms in schools where more than 65% of students are grade level proficient or above in ELA and/or math
- All high school classrooms in the nine Specialized High Schools and other high-performing schools where college readiness exceeds 90%
- All Performing Arts and Talent Schools
If not, this law will take away opportunities for advanced learners, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds by:
- Reducing the number of classroom seats in G&T, accelerated and Advanced Placement (AP) programs, nine Specialized High Schools and at High Schools with college readiness exceeding 90%
- Reducing funding and availability of popular Advanced Placement (AP) and Elective classes
- Increasing hiring of less experienced teachers in the face of an existing dire teacher shortage, thereby negating any potential advantage to lower class sizes.
“Popular, top performing schools have larger class sizes and homogeneous ability grouping in accelerated classrooms like G&T, academically screened middle schools and high schools and specialized high schools have better outcomes—despite large class sizes,” said Maud Maron, Co-President of PLACE NYC.
Like the proverbial hammer that thinks everything is a nail, the Class Size legislation, sponsored by New York State Senator John Liu and signed by Governor Kathy Hochul, presumes limiting class sizes is the only way to address the many challenges students and their families face such as learning loss caused by Covid school closures, persistently low academic performance in low income minority communities, chronic high absenteeism, school violence and plummeting enrollment.
While having smaller class sizes like those of expensive private schools seems to be a very attractive feature, the legislation has neither the mechanisms to measure and improve academic outcomes nor does it secure funding to pay for the exorbitant $2B needed over an unknown time period to build new physical classrooms and schools. Our city is now facing a $40B budget gap and cuts due to the migrant crisis. There are even fewer funds today than when the legislation was signed.
A 2018 study shows that effective teaching has more impact on learning outcomes with a much lower cost than funding the Class Size law. The legislation handcuffs the Mayor and the School Chancellor from using other more cost effective methods to improve education outcomes.
“Families seek accelerated programs and high quality schools. Many have left NYC public schools due to the loss of such programs, even before the class size legislation. We must protect and expand such programs if we want to retain and attract families to NYC public schools,” said Chien Kwok, Co-President of PLACE NYC.
While the Class Size legislation is now law, the Legislature must empower the DOE to exempt high-demand schools where students are out-performing academically despite the larger class sizes and instead focus their limited resources to already under-enrolled low performing schools and help students there to improve academic outcomes.
About PLACE NYC (https://www.placenyc.org)
PLACE NYC (Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education) advocates for challenging and rigorous education for every public school student starting at elementary school to inspire classrooms of lifelong learners and to provide access and opportunity so students can achieve their full potential. Learn more about PLACE NYC.
Maud Maron, Co-President, PLACE NYC
Chien Kwok, Co-President, PLACE NYC