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President's Perspective

Our class size campaign this spring

New York Teacher

The recent passage of state legislation to lower class size in New York City schools represents not just a policy shift but a profound affirmation of decades of research showing that smaller class sizes lead to better student outcomes.

This law is our collective opportunity to significantly enhance the quality of education for every child in our city. Yet this historic moment is at risk due to the reluctance of Mayor Eric Adams and the city Department of Education to implement the new law.

The state law requires that classes have a maximum of 20 students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, 23 in grades 4–8 and 25 in high school by September 2028. This school year, the first year of the law’s five-year phase-in, the DOE has declared 20% of classrooms citywide in compliance with the law without lifting a finger. But next September, the rubber will hit the road.

Lowering class sizes across New York City public schools can be done, but it will take serious planning and commitment. Sadly, the city is pouring its energy into trying to sow fear among parents that it will take away school choice and force schools to cut spending elsewhere.

This narrative is simply not true. The law is not an unfunded mandate — the state has recently sent record amounts of school aid to the city. It’s the city’s choice not to allocate those funds for lowering class size.

The truth is class size is simply not a priority of this mayor. And why would it be? He has never been a teacher trying valiantly to provide the individualized attention each child needs and deserves in a classroom of 34 students.

Ninety-eight percent of school districts in New York State already benefit from smaller class sizes. Our students deserve no less.

The success stories from other school districts and in private education, where small class size is the norm, underscore a simple truth: Class size is a fundamental part of a quality education.

Educators and parents fought hard to get this law passed, and we cannot and will not let this moment pass us by. All across the city, we have schools that have the space right now to implement the law; they just need the city to make the choice to allocate funds to hire more teachers. We also have schools that currently — due to decreased enrollment — are within the new class size caps, but we need a commitment from the DOE that it won’t excess staff and drive up class size again.

The DOE and the city’s decision not to highlight these schools that can and are making it work is a deliberate choice. We need to correct the narrative. That’s what our class size campaign this April and May seeks to do.

Your involvement will be crucial. Together, we will spread the word — in conversations, on social media and at community events — about the possibilities that exist right now to make smaller classes a reality. We will share the research and the success stories to make sure our communities understand the clear benefits of smaller class size.

There will be opportunities to advocate directly and hold the mayor and DOE officials accountable. We will write letters, make phone calls, make our presence felt at the Panel for Educational Policy meetings and raise the issue at meetings with parent leaders at the school and district level so our collective voices will be heard.

Most importantly, we will stand together with parents, students and community organizations because we know the strength in numbers. Standing united, we will seize this historic opportunity to make transformational change.

Related Topics: Class Size, President