Bill Caps Class Size in NYC Schools: Long Overdue and Urgently Needed 1

Bill Caps Class Size in NYC Schools: Long Overdue and Urgently Needed

NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 3, 2022) — Advocates for New York City public school students hail the passage of S09460/_ A10498 by the New York State Legislature today. The law mandates caps on class size to be phased in over five years in all New York City public schools. The caps are 20 students per class in Kindergarten through 3rd-grade; 23 students per class in grades 4th through 8th. ; and 25 students per class in high school academic subjects.  

The new law amends the 2007 Contract for Excellence (C4E) law which required New York City to reduce class size averages by 2012. Yet the New York City Department of Education failed to comply and class sizes grew larger, sometimes exponentially. The new law requires caps in all schools rather than averages and adds enforcement mechanisms to ensure City compliance.

“If this law is enacted, it will transform New York City schools by finally ensuring smaller classes in all grades,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters. “For too long, city students have struggled in classes that are 15 to 30 percent larger than those in the rest of the state. These excessive class sizes have deprived them of the close feedback and support of their teachers that they need to succeed, a glaring inequity. While all students benefit from smaller classes, the research shows that those who benefit the most are children of color, who make up the majority of students in the NYC public schools.”  

“This law is the culmination of persistent advocacy by parents and teachers across New York City,” said Wendy Lecker, Senior Attorney at Education Law Center (ELC), which works to enforce the legal rights of New York public school students. “Smaller class sizes are an essential element of a constitutional ‘sound basic education’ as defined by New York’s highest court. This legislation is vital and long overdue.”

“For years, parents, educators and advocates have fought to reduce class sizes in NYC public schools in order to ensure students get the individualized attention they need to succeed. Senator Robert Jackson stood with parents to lead the fight to fully fund Foundation Aid to ensure NYC schools would have the resources to significantly lower class sizes,” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director for the Alliance for Quality Education. “In 2020, AQE surveyed parents to ask their top priorities for schools and overwhelmingly parents named smaller class sizes among the top two priorities. The passage of the Class Size bill gets us closer to that goal. We urge the governor to sign it immediately.”

”Advocates and parents thank the Leaders of the State Legislature, Speaker Carl Heastie and Majority Leader Andrew Stewart Cousins along with the Chair of the Assembly Education Committee Michael Benedetto and the Chair of the New York City Senate Education Committee John Liu for shepherding this bill to passage. We are also greatly indebted to the lead sponsors of the original bills on which these amendments are based, Senator Robert Jackson and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon for ensuring the promise of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit will finally be fulfilled,” Ms. Haimson said. “Now we hope and expect Governor Kathy Hochul will sign the bill, so that our children can be provided with the smaller class sizes that students in the rest of the state already receive.”