Once-in-a-generation chance to reduce class sizes
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear: Class size is a public health issue. Help us ensure that the City Council passes legislation that would set a cap on how many people the Department of Education can squeeze into a classroom. Join thousands of your fellow UFT members who are fighting for what #OurKidsNeed.
The City Council is considering a bill that would set new limits on the number of students and adults allowed in city classrooms in the wake of COVID-19. Forty-one Council members — a veto-proof majority — back the bill, but Council Speaker Corey Johnson failed to bring it up for a vote in December.
The time is now.
“If we cannot finally agree as a city in the middle of a pandemic that we need a plan to lower our class size, I don’t know where we’re ever going to get to it,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew testified at a City Council hearing on the bill on Oct. 27.
- The city’s administrative code on occupancy limits was last updated in 1938 — during a tuberculosis outbreak. We must learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and take steps to prevent classroom overcrowding from spreading viruses in the future.
- The pandemic has exposed other issues in our city’s schools that the city has addressed, like antiquated ventilation systems and infrastructure. It’s time to recognize that classroom occupancy limits are a public health issue.
- The UFT and other advocates have been calling on the city to reduce class sizes for decades. But our arguments about how smaller class sizes benefit students and teachers academically and socially have failed. A legislative change to the city’s health code would hold the city responsible in a new way.
What city educators are saying about smaller class sizes
- “It's often frustrating to recognize how overcrowded classrooms limit our options in trying to reach every child to thoroughly meet their learning needs. Smaller class sizes for our city's public schools would reduce the risk of overlooking students with profound learning challenges or untapped potential.”
— Greg Monte, Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, Brooklyn
- "My students have so much potential that at times it's hard to identify it in a classroom with 27 other children."
— Faiza Khalid, PS 36, Manhattan
- “Having a reduced class size would not only benefit the general education student but even more so those who have IEPs or are ENL students. Less students would mean more support for students that really need it."
— Melissa Alvarez, John Bowne, HS, Queens
- “Smaller classes would allow teachers to give their students more targeted instruction. Teachers are stretched thin every day to meet the academic needs of their students and with smaller class sizes we can make a more meaningful impact in the lives of students.”
— Katherine Peña, PS 150, The Bronx
In the news
- "Education department opposes proposal to lower class sizes," NY1, Oct. 27, 2021
- "Lawmakers press city on numbers for public school enrollment," Gothamist, Oct. 27, 2021
- "Council leaders support class size cap bill," New York Teacher, Sept. 9, 2021
- "NYC Council members, teachers union introduce bill to reduce public school class sizes," New York Daily News, July 29, 2021
- "New York City Council introduces bill calling for classroom capacity limits," Eyewitness News/WABC, July 29, 2021
- "Teachers union, city council members propose limiting students allowed in NYC classrooms as COVID looms," Chalkbeat, July 29, 2021
- "New Bill Would Mandate Smaller Classes In NYC Public Schools," Gothamist, July 29, 2021