There are only about thirty seats left for our annual Network for Public Education conference, this year in Oakland CA from Oct. 14-15. If you've never been before to an NPE conference, you are missing something terrific. We have some fabulous keynote ...

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"NYC Public School Parents" - 5 new articles

  1. NPE conference Oct. 14-15; please come if you can!
  2. Join our free webinar Oct. 3 and learn how to protect your child's privacy!
  3. How many thousands of school seats were lost during the past decade, how did this contribute to overcrowding and how many went to charter school students?
  4. Please take our 5-minute class size survey!
  5. Call your Senators today to support what new poll shows parents really want in their neighborhood public schools: funding to reduce class size not "choice"
  6. More Recent Articles

NPE conference Oct. 14-15; please come if you can!

There are only about thirty seats left for our annual Network for Public Education conference, this year in Oakland CA from Oct. 14-15.  If you've never been before to an NPE conference, you are missing something terrific. We have some fabulous keynote speakers, pictured to the right. In addition, you can check out the schedule of workshops.

I'll be moderating two panels: One on the myths and reality of online learning, along with Mark Miller, the former President of the PA School Board Association and Marla Kilfoyle, the Executive Director of the Badass Teachers Association.

I'll also be doing a workshop on the fight for children's privacy, with Rachael Stickland of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and Josh Golin of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.

Please come and share with friends and colleagues, especially those who live in the Bay Area.
    

Join our free webinar Oct. 3 and learn how to protect your child's privacy!

    

How many thousands of school seats were lost during the past decade, how did this contribute to overcrowding and how many went to charter school students?

Last  week Class Size Matters released a new report entitled Seats Gained and Lost in NYC Schools: The Untold Story.  For the first time, this study documented that more than 50,000 NYC public school seats were eliminated during the decade of 2004 to 2013.

These seat losses, mostly because of lapsed leases, the removal of trailers and the elimination of annexes, were identified using data from the annual DOE School Capacity and Utilization Reports, known more familiarly as the Blue Books.

Rather than creating net 100,000 seats during this period, as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Mayor's Management Report claimed, the real figure was less than half that number — only about 45,000, when seat loss is taken into account.

Moreover, of these net seats, the vast majority were filled by charter school students in public school buildings, with only 2,357 net seats filled by district public school students during this decade.


These findings help explain the worsening overcrowding that has plagued New York City schools, especially in the elementary grades, with the number of overcrowded elementary school buildings increasing by 17 percent and the number of students in these buildings increasing by 29 percent between 2004 and 2012. 

Meanwhile, the total number of students last year in overcrowded school buildings of all kinds was more than 575,000 --- according to the DOE's own "target" methodology.

In fully half of all districts, elementary school buildings lost net capacity during this period.  Of the 19 districts that experience growth in elementary school enrollment, in only three districts did the net new capacity exceed growth: in districts 2, 11, and 22.  If you'd like to see how many seats your district lost during this period, check out the report here or below.

The report also points out several factors that may make seat loss an even more important concern in the future.  This includes the DOE’s plan to accelerate the planned removal of TCUs or trailers, and the fact that there are no funds allocated in the five-year capital plan towards replacing their classrooms.  Moreover, the amount of funding in the capital plan dedicated to replacing lost leases has sharply declined since 2009.

We suggested some  proposals that the DOE could use to stem the loss of seats and to make the process of school planning more transparent and efficient, so that the problem of overcrowding doesn't worsen,  given the boom in residential development throughout the city and the Mayor's focus on increasing the number of affordable and market-rate housing units.

We also urged an end to any further co-locations, which exacerbate overcrowding; and our figures showing that the vast majority of net new seats went to charter school students over this decade provides an important factual counterbalance to the constant demand from the charter school lobby for more space within our already overcrowded school buildings, and the claim that they have been deprived of their fair share of classrooms. 

Unfortunately, very few news outlets carried stories about the report, including those that repeatedly report on the non-newsworthy complaints from the charter lobby every time they hold a press conference or send out a press release.  The Walton Foundation and hedge-funder backed charter including Families for Excellent Schools, Students First, and other astroturf organizations, constantly and erroneously repeat the refrain that charters are unfairly deprived of their fair share of space. Why this lack of interest on the part of NYC reporters?  I could speculate but choose not to.

Instead, please take a look at the report yourselves, and please let me know what you think in the comments below.  thanks!



    

Please take our 5-minute class size survey!

Welcome back to a new school year! 

Please take our five-minute class size survey to let us know how large your child’s class size is this year; teachers, your input is welcome too!   In NYC, the administration has until Sept. 20 to get below the union class size limits – which are already far too high. I’ve already heard of one NYC high school with 260 classes that violate these limits -- meaning more than 34 students per class.

In case you missed it, this summer we filed a legal complaint with the NY State Education Department to enforce the law requiring NYC schools to reduce class size. We hope to hear back from the Commissioner soon.   Meanwhile, after submitting a Freedom of Information Law request a year and a half ago, we finally got back a heavily redacted memo from the Mayor’s office, which blacked out their reasons for rejecting a proposal to align the school capacity formula with smaller classes. Check it out here.
    

Call your Senators today to support what new poll shows parents really want in their neighborhood public schools: funding to reduce class size not "choice"

On Thursday, the full House of Representatives voted to approve massive cuts to the federal education budget, including the complete elimination of the $2 billion Title II program that provides funds to districts to enhance teacher quality and reduce class size.

In NYC, the entire Title II amount is spent on keeping about 1000 teachers on staff to prevent further class size increases.

Please call your Senators today  -- tell them to retain full funding for Title II and class size reduction in the education budget!  Their DC phone numbers can be found here.  If their phones are busy, here's how to send a free fax.


On Tuesday just two days before, the AFT released a new nationwide poll of 1200 parents, showing that most parents care deeply about increasing funding to their public schools and reducing class size.  Here are some of the results: 

1.  Turns out the top choice of most parents is a good quality neighborhood school that they can send their kids to rather than more "choice" -- by more than two to one.


2. Parents believe that the most important problems facing our public schools are inadequate funding, too much emphasis on standardized tests, and large classes; way behind at number 8 is not enough "choice."


In terms of specific improvements that parents want for their children's schools, they would like expanded access to career and technical education and smaller classes; third is more resources to struggling neighborhood schools.

Unsurprisingly, parents trust teachers far more than they trust Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos or  hedge fund managers to have the right ideas for public education -- given the fact that these individuals want to privatize our public schools in the guise of expanding "choice" rather than support and improve the schools we have:


The full results of the poll, including subgroups responses, are here;  meanwhile, please call your Senators today or send them a free fax!
    

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