Despite new law to reduce class size, 300K students in oversized classrooms: UFT

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
UFT says over 300,000 students in overrcrowded classes
Lauren Glassberg has more on the union's fight for smaller class sizes.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Despite a new law to reduce class sizes, the United Federation of Teachers is sounding the alarm on crowded classrooms in New York City schools.

Union members, along with parents and advocates, got together in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning to share one simple message: the class size law for NYC must be implemented right away.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew says that many schools in high-need neighborhoods fail to meet the new class size mandate. In fact, they say more than 300,000 students in high-need schools are in overcrowded classes.

Under the law passed last year, classes are not supposed to exceed 20 students in kindergarten through third grade. For grades 4-8, classes top out at 23 students and high school classes are full at 25 students.

Classes like physical education, music, and other performance-based classes are supposed to be considered full at 40 students.

The city has some time to meet those standards, but half of high school classes are at 34 students and elementary school students are frequently in classes of 30.

And the number of classes adhering to the state cap is going down.

When it comes to Title 1 schools, those with high poverty levels, the class size is meant to be a priority. Mulgrew says 50% or more of the classes are larger than allowed by the new law.

The union reports: "In 665 Title 1 schools, at least 50% of classes exceed the state law limits this school year. In these Title 1 schools, some 322,111 students are currently in classes larger than set in the state law. In 40 of these schools, every single class is over the class size limit established by the new state law. Overall, 97% of New York City's 1,267 Title 1 schools have at least one oversized classroom."

They released a list of the most overcrowded Title 1 schools.

"Claiming these schools have no overcrowding problem is just one example of how the city is working to undermine the new class size mandate," Mulgrew said. "Rather than use delaying tactics or manufacturing a fiscal crisis when it has record levels of financial reserves, the city's Department of Education needs to come up with a coherent plan to address the long-term inequity of crowded classrooms."

The Department of Education disputes the union's data on class sizes, but everyone agrees that recent budget cuts won't help the situation and the city says it needs more money from the federal and state governments.

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Tom Negovan has the details.


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