Open Letter for Class Size Equity

Dear members of the: 

New York State Senate - New York City Education Committee & New York State Assembly - Education Committee 

We are a group of parents, educators, and community members who are highly concerned about the impact and disruptions the execution of the Class Size Law will have on New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) and the quality of our children’s education. 

While we support the idea of smaller class sizes in principle, there are many costly trade-offs that have become more apparent since the Law was passed. The most concerning issues are:

  • Many families will no longer be able to attend their preferred, zoned, local school. The most popular schools will have their enrollment capped to meet the law’s requirements. In many School Districts (i.e. District’s 20, 21, 22 in Brooklyn; District’s 24, 25, 26, 28 in Queens; District 31 in Staten Island), between 78-88% of all schools are over the class size limits. In many of these schools, there is not enough available space to meet the class size caps and enrollment at schools will be capped. But since most of the schools in these districts are over the limits, this will force many students to travel longer distances and possibly outside their district in order to simply attend a school with lower enrollment. 

  • There will be fewer seats  in popular specialty programs like Bilingual Classes, Advanced Placement, Integrated Co-teaching (ICT) and Gifted & Talented classes. The number of students in these classes will all be limited under the law. The remaining students will have to find a class at another school, perhaps join general classes, or will leave public school altogether and seek education opportunities elsewhere like charter or private schools.

  • Schools will lose classrooms for classes like Art, Music, Science and Physical Education. Because many schools do not have the physical space to meet the Law’s requirements, spaces intended for specialty classes will be appropriated in order to create new general education classrooms. Schools will also be at risk of losing resource rooms, clinics, libraries, gymnasiums, etc.

  • School budgets will be cut to pay for additional teachers. The new teachers required to comply with the Law will be paid for out of individual school budgets that will be finalized starting this Spring. Schools will be forced to reduce spending in other areas such as fewer guidance counselors, social workers and enrichment/specialty teachers, or cutting extracurricular clubs and activities.

  • Teaching quality will decline as schools are forced to hire thousands of new teachers very quickly despite a nationwide shortage of qualified teachers. The State of California attempted a class size reduction initiative in the 1990’s which was later abandoned. There was a widespread decline in teacher quality as a result of the State having to quickly hire thousands of less-qualified teachers. 

  • Districts with lower enrollment will lose quality senior teachers who will be able to transfer to new openings in Districts with higher enrollment. In many cases, this means Districts with higher academic needs will lose teachers to Districts with lower academic needs. 

Since this is only the first year of the Class Size Law phase-in, the majority of families have not been impacted yet because the New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) system is currently in compliance with the Law. 

However, beginning with the next admissions cycle for the 2025-2026 school year, it will be necessary for NYCPS to begin making drastic changes to school enrollment and admissions in order to comply with the law. 

We strongly urge you to amend the Law to extend the implementation period to 10 years, implement it only in grades K-3 to start, and implement it only in schools with both high poverty and low academic performance.

Sincere regards,

Coalition for Class Size Equity and 
the following signatories

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