On June 3, 2022, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed a bill that would reduce class sizes in New York City.
In response, UFT President Michael Mulgrew issued the following statement:
The Senate and Assembly class size reduction legislation marks a milestone in the years-long struggle to bring the benefits of smaller classes to the city, which has long had among the highest class sizes in the state.
While parents and teachers appreciate the support of all the legislators who joined in this critical legislation, special thanks go to the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate NYC Education Chair Senator John Liu, Senate Education Chair Senator Shelley Mayer, Senator Robert Jackson, Assembly Education Chair Michael Benedetto, and Assembly Member Manny De Los Santos.
UFT fact sheet on Albany class size legislation
- Fact: According to the state’s figures, 663 of New York’s 675 public school districts have lower class sizes than New York City.
- Fact: Academic research, including studies of programs in Tennessee and Wisconsin, has demonstrated the positive results of well-planned and well-implemented class size programs.
- Fact: Tens of thousands of city parents have signed petitions asking for lower class sizes for their children. Parents (and New York’s priciest private schools) know that lower class sizes give teachers more time to devote to each student, a benefit for every child but particularly for struggling learners.
- Fact: Thanks to new federal education funds designed to help schools deal with the continuing effects of the COVID pandemic, $7.6 billion in additional federal support has come to our schools, along with an additional $1.3 billion in state funds through Governor Hochul’s commitment to fully fund foundation aid.
- Fact: Using the Department of Education’s most recent space survey, nearly 90 percent of the system’s current buildings could adopt the new class size guidelines, which would bring the earliest grades down from the current 25 to 20 students, and high school classes from 34 to 25.
- Other space can be found by re-purposing administrative or non-traditional classroom areas for instruction, while the new classrooms made necessary by the legislation — phased in over five years — are less than the DOE has already planned for those years.
- Fact: The total five-year cost for additional teachers — $1 billion — is less than one percent of the city’s current $100 billion annual budget.
- Fact: The plan is adaptable. In addition to its phase-in nature, the bill would give the city’s neediest schools the highest priority for class size reduction. It also provides temporary exemptions for certain over-subscribed buildings and a process for finding more space for these tough cases. In no case will popular, special, or over-enrolled schools or programs be able to push out or turn away students based on the new space calculations, though such schools will be required to make plans to expand their capacity over time.
- Fact: New York City suffers from high teacher attrition. Roughly 5,000 instructors resign or retire every year, fed up with city teaching conditions — including oversized classes. The possibility of dramatically lowering class sizes could help retain many of these veterans.