Monday, November 8, 2021

EONYC Challenge: Can Class Size Issues Wake up a sleepy UFT Leadership After Ignoring the Issue for Decades?

Be it Resolved:  That the UFT will prioritize this [class size] as one of our top demands in upcoming contractual negotiations to align the contractual class size caps with the city’s 2007 state-approved C4E class size goals, including no more than 20 students per class in grades K-3; 23 students per class in grades 4-8; and 25 students in high school, to be phased in over the next four years; 
While I believe we may see some gains out of the City Council bill, we admittedly know it’s tenuous at best as shared by leadership, today.

There are also very serious and valid questions in regards to its enforcement. The specter of an entirely new city council and mayor leaves us a very small window, also, in my opinion. Even this mayor has made no commitments to smaller class size. ... Educators of NYC

If you happen to find a UFT contract laying around --- they are rarer than fossils - -- check out the current class size limits. And while at it check out a 1969 conttact, which you are more likely to find than the current one. Holy cow, the class size limits haven't changed. It must be a misprint. Or maybe not.

With a UFT election coming, the UFT leadership shows off its political skills by getting politians to help us with class size - until other politicians take it away.

The actual only way to formalize class size limitsit through the contract, but that is a place you will not see the UFT go until the day far along in the future when of ny some chance a progressive gtoup tosses incompetent and inept Unity Caucus bums out of office.

Here is a report from James on ICEUFT on a new initiative, not by the Unity Caucus leaders but by a rank and file teacher. 

EDUCATORS OF NYC CHALLENGES UFT LEADERSHIP ON LOWER CLASS SIZES

The UFT is going to make a push for lower class size through a City Council bill that would lower class sizes by changing the health code on the maximum occupancy in a classroom. 

Daniel Alicea, from Educators of NYC, has written an open letter to UFT leadership asking the UFT to go much further than the City Council bill if the Union is really serious about lowering class sizes.  Daniel argues that the UFT should back the City Council bill but also to support a plan to get the money from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement and use it toward lowering class size in the UFT Contract where it would be enforceable. In 2005, the UFT while they were giving away many of our rights like for example creating the Absent Teacher Reserve pool, put a clause in the Contract that said in Article 8L d) that if Campaign for Fiscal Equity money was made available, they would set up a labor-management committee for "a program for the reduction of class size in all grades and divisions."  That funding is here sixteen years later but we are not even demanding that it be used to lower class sizes. Daniel's letter is copied in full below along with his resolution for the November Delegate Assembly on class sizes.

Smaller Class Size, Now - An Open Letter to UFT President Michael Mulgrew and UFT leadership
Dan Alicea

Esteemed:

I am excited about the prospect of our union finally pushing smaller class sizes in a more meaningful way. 

While I believe we may see some gains out of the City Council bill, we admittedly know it’s tenuous at best as shared by leadership, today.

There are also very serious and valid questions in regards to its enforcement. The specter of an entirely new city council and mayor leaves us a very small window, also, in my opinion. Even this mayor has made no commitments to smaller class size. 

We need teeth on this one. Once and for all.

I am asking we all support the following resolution I hope to share at our next delegate assembly. This issue is too iffy in the hands of bureaucrats when not ironclad, as we have seen with the circles CFE litigation put us in for over 20 years.

I’d also add that we already see the city violate other square footage requirements presently with little to no consequence.

We need a full-court press. If we care about this enough, we must fight for it in every single way available to us, legislatively on a state and city level, contractually, in our future collective bargaining, and in rallying our school communities.

Find the resolution attached.


Please support.

This matters to our children, families, educators, and school communities.

In solidarity,

Daniel Alicea - Special Education teacher/ Delegate, Middle School 53


Resolution to strengthen our commitment to lower class size and hold the NYC DOE accountable for enforcement of class size reduction (working draft)

Whereas: Excessive class sizes have been a consistent problem in NYC public schools for generations; 

Whereas: As of the 2019-20 school year, nearly one third or over 300,000 NYC students were crammed into classes of 30 or more;

Whereas: Reducing class size has been the top priority of NYC public school parents with children in grades K through 12 when asked what changes they would most like to see in their children’s schools, ever since the Department of Education began to administer surveys in 2007; 

Whereas:  According to a  UFT survey, 99% of teachers said that reducing class size would be a “highly effective way” to improve student outcomes, far above any other reform; 

Whereas:  In 2003, in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit, NY’s highest court determined that NYC public school class sizes were too large to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education, and yet class sizes have increased since that decision was made, particularly in the early grades; 

Whereas: According to research, reducing class size has proven to be one of the best ways to improve student learning and to lead to better grades and test scores, stronger student engagement, lower disciplinary rates, less teacher attrition, and higher graduation and college-going rates;

Whereas: Given the need for social distancing during the Covid pandemic and stronger academic support to make up for disrupted learning conditions, the need for smaller classes is more evident than ever before;  

Whereas:  NYC will receive an additional $530 million in state Foundation aid as a result of the CFE lawsuit this year, to increase to $1.4 billion annually over three years;

Whereas: A bill has been introduced in the State Legislature, S.6296/ A07447 to renew NYC’s obligation to lower class size in all grades as required by the original Contracts for Excellence law, passed in 2007; 

Whereas:    A bill has been introduced in the NYC Council, Int 2374-2021,  to lower classroom capacity and thus class size, starting in the fall of 2021 to be phased in over three years, 

Whereas:  In the May 2005 contract between the UFT and the DOE, it was agreed that “subject to adequate CFE funding,”  a Labor/Management committee would be formed to look into several issues, among them “a program for the reduction of class size in all grades and divisions.”

Whereas:  According to a 2019 study  of 124 large districts , which included the 100 largest districts in the country and the largest district in each state, the average class size limits were lower in every grade than the contractual class size caps in NYC; 

Whereas:  The class size caps in the UFT contract have not changed in over fifty years; 

Be it Resolved:  That the UFT will demand that the DOE immediately establish a Labor-Management Committee to come up with a plan to lower class size in all grades and divisions, given that the full CFE funding will be provided to NYC over the next three years; 

Be it Resolved: That the UFT will urge the New York State Governor and the Legislature to adopt S.6296 and A07447,  and for the NYC Council to adopt Int 2374-2021;

Be it Resolved:  That the UFT will prioritize this as one of our top demands in upcoming contractual negotiations to align the contractual class size caps with the city’s 2007 state-approved C4E class size goals, including no more than 20 students per class in grades K-3; 23 students per class in grades 4-8; and 25 students in high school, to be phased in over the next four years;

Be it Resolved:  That the UFT officers will report back to the Delegate Assembly each month on the progress made on each of these four goals.

 

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