"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bloomberg Reduces Class Size by 0.5 Students

The best estimates are that it would take a billion dollars to significantly reduce class size in New York City schools. The City, however, will not get that much from the State in the recent settlement. Instead, it will get $700 million.

How much of will Bloomberg dedicate to reducing class size in the City? All of it? Three fourths? Not quite. The mayor gets a headline, and the students get $106 million, which will reduce class size by 0.3 students in kindergarten, 0.8 students in middle grades, and 0.6 students in high school. From the Times:

. . . .Class sizes have been a volatile issue in New York City, and if the new money were distributed equally it would result in an average reduction of only 0.3 students per class in kindergarten through third grade; a reduction of 0.8 students in fourth through eighth grades; and a reduction of 0.6 students per class in high school.

Garth Harries, who heads the Education Department’s Office of New Schools, said that the city, instead, was going to look at its most overcrowded classrooms and that the effort would have to be phased in over many years. The $106 million is only a first step, he said.

“We know that we’ve got a multi-year challenge ahead of us,” Mr. Harries said in an interview. “We believe these are fair and reasonable goals for the first year of that.”

Leonie Haimson, the executive director of a parent group called Class Size Matters, called the class size reduction proposal “so minimal as to be meaningless.”

Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, who had also been campaigning for smaller class sizes, said there was nothing in the city’s plan “that explicitly says class size will be meaningfully reduced.” She also criticized the Education Department for releasing the proposal during summer vacation.

Public hearings on the proposal, which still has to be approved by the state if it is to take effect, will be held next week. The final plan is to be submitted to the state by July 15.

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