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UFT: Keep class size, temporary room reports

Alarmed by Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to reduce the Department of Education’s current obligations to report on class sizes and temporary classrooms, the UFT on May 14 gave written testimony to the City Council registering its opposition to the mayor’s recommendations.

Under the New York Charter law, the DOE must produce two reports — in November and February — on class size every school year, and a detailed report on “temporary and non-standard” classroom space every October. However, in an effort to cut costs, the mayor has proposed eliminating the November report on class sizes and releasing the DOE from its obligation to report on temporary classrooms entirely.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew warned in his testimony of the “impact of reducing or eliminating critical information that parents use to judge the quality of their children’s education.”

Eliminating the November class size report, Mulgrew said, would return city schools to a time when “teachers, parents and the public were without clear information on class sizes by school” and “the city’s education community could not tell how many classes were too large, where the biggest class size problems existed or any pertinent details at the school level.”

Mulgrew also noted that class sizes fluctuate throughout the school year and tend to be higher in the fall, which is why the November report is a critically important tool for advocates concerned about oversized classes.

Mulgrew also addressed the importance of the DOE’s annual report on “temporary and non-standard” classrooms, which the mayor would like to eliminate outright.

“The UFT has received numerous complaints about these trailers and their current conditions,” Mulgrew wrote about these so-called “classrooms.” “The wooden ramps are rotting, the metal siding is coming loose and other deteriorating conditions are developing.”

Noting that the administration cites the cost savings as the rationale for eliminating these reports, Mulgrew asked, “But what about the cost to children who linger too long in over-size classes or risk hazards in unsuitable space?”

To read the full testimony, go to www.uft.org/testimony.

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