Oversized Classes in NYC Schools
September 26, 2012
Around Town by Neal Tepel
A teachers’ union survey of New York City public schools has shown that in mid-September nearly half of the city’s schools had overcrowded classes and the number of overcrowded special education classes in regular schools had more than doubled.
According to the UFT survey, there were 670 schools with oversized general education classes in the city during the survey period, up from 660 last year, while the number of overcrowded special education classes in these schools grew from 118 to 270.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “Parents and teachers know that many children need the individual time and attention that lower class sizes can provide. Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education disagree, and in fact the mayor has publicly said that in a perfect world he would double class sizes. It is thanks to the contract negotiated by the UFT that there are limits to the number of children that can be crammed into our public schools classes, and we will pursue every legal alternative to bring class sizes down.”
Mulgrew added, “In some schools, under threat of legal action, principals are in the process of reducing class size to the legal limits. The UFT will begin arbitration to bring the remaining oversize general ed classes into compliance.”
Class size limits set by the UFT contract are:
• Pre-Kindergarten: 18 students with a teacher and a paraprofessional
• Kindergarten: 25 students
• Grades 1-6: 32 students
• JHS/MS: 33 students in non-Title I schools; 30 in Title I schools
• High school: 34 students; 50 in physical education/gym
The size of special education classes is governed by the Individual Education Program of each student. Class size limits for special education students are set and enforced by state regulations, and the UFT will ensure that state regulators are aware of all violations of these rules.
Based on these figures, the UFT estimated that roughly 225,000 — or nearly a quarter of the system’s students — spent part or all of their first days in school in overcrowded classes, despite the fact that the overall number of oversized classes this year was 6,220, down from 6,978 last year.