Friday, July 06, 2007

Where Are They Now?

For months I've been making sarcastic references to the travesty of class size reduction which appears to be all that remains of the CFE lawsuit. I'm very sad to report that my comments were far closer to the truth than anyone could have suspected. The NY Times reports:

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced yesterday how the city school system plans to spend $228 million in new education financing from the state, including allocating nearly half the money to reduce class sizes.

That money, $106 million, will allow the city to add 1,300 teachers to cut class sizes, and officials say they will concentrate on the most crowded classrooms with students most at risk of failure.

That sounds good, doesn't it? After all, a hundred million bucks is a lot of money, perhaps almost as much as they spend redoing Tweed so it could house a charter school run by a picky billionaire. So what effect will that money have?

...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.

This clearly means, for the overwhelming majority of kids, it will have no effect whatsoever. Furthermore, it appears you'll have to be extremely needy for this money to reach your classroom. The fact is, many schools are so overcrowded they couldn't reduce class sizes if they wanted to--there's simply no place else to put kids.

With schools hovering over 250% capacity, it's a disgrace that this mayor gets away with labeling what now amounts to a drop in the bucket as a major improvement. It's even worse that the UFT has chosen to function as his echo chamber, heralding nebulously worded regulations as brilliant achievements. Despite Ms. Weingarten's current criticism, the UFT loudly hailed the regulations that provided little or no oversight over a mayor who's basically passed the buck on this issue since day one.

I knew better, and she should have too.

It's predictable that optimal results do not occur in overcrowded, decrepit buildings with the largest class sizes in the state. What surprises me is the dearth of parents storming city hall with torches and pitchforks.

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