sign on to our letter to Spitzer now, and upcoming events and news!
District 2 NYC parents
- Please sign on to the letter below, to Governor-elect Spitzer and the State legislature, asking for more funding and strict accountability measures for our schools, including specific requirements that class sizes be reduced in all grades. Just hit forward and sign your name, including school and district, as well as any leadership post and/or organizational affiliation; and send it back to me at leonie@..., ASAP. And please forward the letter to others who care about our schools. This is urgent; we need to start pressing our elected officials on this issue now!
- I will be speaking on the class size crisis in our schools tonight, Friday Dec. 1, in Brooklyn from 6-8 PM at Unity in the Community, a community center located at 441 Marcus Garvey Blvd bet. MacDonough and Macon streets. (take the A to Nostrand Ave. and change to C for Kingston / Throop Ave. ) Please come if you can.
- Next Friday, I will be giving a presentation at the Hispanic Education Summit, about how we must ensure that a significant portion of the CFE funds are spent to provide smaller classes for our kids. I’ll be appearing on a panel at 9:45 AM along with several other distinguished guests, including Councilmember Robert Jackson, the driving force behind the lawsuit, and Geri Palast, Executive Director of CFE. The three of us appeared together at an earlier event at the Abysinnian Baptist Church and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Please come if you want an overview and update on the case, and if you want to find out what each of can do to help ensure that these funds are spent wisely, as the Court envisioned, to address the inequitable conditions in our schools.
What: 2nd Annual Hispanic Education Summit
When: December 8, 2006, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Where: Baruch College , 55 Lexington Avenue , 14th Floor ( Corner Lexington Ave. and 24th street )
As you can see, the summit is a whole day affair; free lunch is provided as well, though you can come for any part of the day. There will be many interesting panels. But you must sign up in advance. For more information or a registration form, please email Edgar Zavala at EZavala@...
- Joel Klein appeared a few nights ago at Columbia University and spoke about his support for more charter schools. In response to a question from the audience, he reiterated his opposition to reducing class size in our traditional public schools.
He cited his own experience as an undergraduate at Columbia as an example: "There were people here at Columbia who were wasting my time," he said. "One of the reasons those classes were so small is because everyone else had realized that those teachers were a waste of time." (For more on what he said, see Columbia Spectator, Nov. 29)
His comments seems awfully strange. First of all, he appears to confuse the situation of NYC public school students, who desperately need the help and support that only smaller classes can provide, with Ivy League college students, who are well on their way towards success in life no matter what their class sizes.
I have attended two very stirring and impressive student-run events in the past couple of weeks, one organized by the Urban Youth Collaborative and one by YouthAction NYC. In both cases, the high school students told high-level DOE representatives with passion and in no uncertain terms that the need to reduce class size was one of their top concerns, as well as those of other students who they had surveyed throughout the city.
The Urban Youth Collaborative has put out a Student Bill of Rights that includes the following statement: “All students have the right to learn in small class settings in which they can receive the individual attention and instruction necessary to learn successfully.”
And this is Klein’s response? Perhaps he just doesn’t want to hear the truth.
His comments also ignore the fact that many colleges and universities, even Harvard and Yale, are making new efforts towards reducing class size, in response to the rankings put out by US News, which specifically grades them on the percentage of their classes that are 20 students or less. Many colleges are also responding their own internal surveys, which reveal that for most students, their engagement and satisfaction is heavily based upon by the size of their classes.
Let’s make sure that whatever the Chancellor’s college experience may have been that all NYC public school children receive the benefit of smaller classes. Only then, according to NY’s highest court, will they be provided with their constitutional right to an adequate education.
Again, please sign the letter below, along w/ school and district, and send it to me at leonie@...; please also forward this message to others who care,
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
Dear Governor-Elect Spitzer and members of the State Legislature:
Please provide NYC schools with $4.7-$5.6 billion in additional funds as part of a multi-year plan, as recommended by the NY Supreme Court, the Appellate Court, the Regents, and Governor Pataki.
Though the Court of Appeals recently found that the constitutional minimum was only $1.93 billion, Judge Rosenblatt, who provided the deciding vote for the majority, wrote that this “should not be construed as…necessarily the proper” amount, and that “when it comes to educating its children, NY State will not likely content itself with the minimum.”
Equally important as the amount of funding is to ensure that these funds are invested wisely, which will only occur if robust accountability measures are attached, as well as sufficient public oversight and input into the city’s spending plan.
We urge you to include the following specific provisions in any legislation authorizing the release of these funds:
1) Achieve “adequacy”: The city’s spending plan must achieve adequacy when fully funded in the core areas that the Court found deficient, including smaller classes in all grades. The city’s capital plan for expanding capacity and building new schools must also be aligned with these goals.
2) Definition of “adequacy”: Adequacy should be defined as the conditions/class sizes that currently exist in the successful school districts across the state; i.e. those in which 80% of students achieve at grade level and 80% graduate on time.
3) State approval: The State Comptroller should assess the city’s plan and timetable to see whether its measurable targets achieve the conditions defined above, and the Commissioner of Education should approve or disapprove the plan, based upon the Comptroller’s findings.
4) Local approval: In New York City , which has no elected school board, the plan should be approved by the City Council, in consultation with other local stakeholders, including the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council and the Community Education Councils.
5) Annual report and audit: Each year, the Commissioner of Education should issue a report on the progress of the city’s plan, based in part on the results of an annual audit by the State Comptroller, to assess whether the plan or its implementation needs to be altered to achieve its stated goals. If either of these is found to be deficient, the Commissioner will order the city to amend the plan accordingly.
The next governor of New York State has an extraordinary opportunity, but also a profound obligation: to ensure that the additional funds our schools will receive are spent responsibly, transparently, with full accountability, and to achieve the classroom conditions necessary to provide our students with a real opportunity to succeed.
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters
Robert Jackson, CFE Plaintiff, New York City Councilmember and Chair of Education Committee
Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation and chair, New Yorkers for Smaller Classes
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