Today, a coalition of civil rights organizations, educational advocacy groups and the UFT filed a law suit against the NYC Department of Education and Joel Klein for failure to comply with New York State law under the Contract for Excellence and lower class size in New York City public schools. The lawsuit charges that despite a decline in overall student enrollment and the injection of more than $760 million in dedicated state funds from school years 2007-08 through 2009-10, class sizes have actually increased in city schools.
Joining with the UFT in the lawsuit are the New York State Conference of the NAACP, the Hispanic Federation, Class Size Matters, the Alliance for Quality Education and parents of NYC public school students. Appearing in support of the law suit today were New York City Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York NAACP President Hazel Dukes and Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodríguez López.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “New York City promised in writing that it would use specific funds to reduce class size. It then turned around and ignored its promise, saying that school principals who supposedly work for the DOE simply decided to spend the money on other things — among them, to replace funds lost to city budget cuts. The result has been that class sizes have actually increased over 2007 in every grade.”
“Three-quarters of a billion dollars later, tens of thousands of New York City students are packed into classes that are higher than anywhere else in the state. Who is managing — or should I say mismanaging — this process?”
Hazel Dukes, President, NAACP New York State Conference, said, “The NAACP New York State Conference has worked for years to ensure quality education for all of our children. It has become clear that smaller classes in urban areas are one of the elements that produce success for our students. New York City must do what is right for our children by instituting smaller class sizes.”
Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation, said, “For over a decade, New York City parents, advocates and elected officials have been committed to reducing class size in our overcrowded schools. Through the Contract for Excellence, millions of dollars in new funding has been targeted to class size reduction and the NYC Department of Education still lacks basic accountability and responsiveness to this issue.”
As the following chart illustrates, Klein and the NYC DoE have failed to meet the legal CFE mandates for class size reduction Kindergarten through grade 3 every year since the mandates were adopted, with class sizes actually increasing the last two years.
Watch the press conference: