NYC Teachers Union Advocates for Class Size Law to Benefit High-Poverty SchoolsNovember 21, 2023
Hundreds of thousands of children attending high-poverty schools are facing large class sizes that exceed new state limits, per a new analysis by the United Federation of Teachers in New York City. The recent law capping class sizes across the city has been criticized for potentially funneling money into popular schools that attract higher-income families, leaving the neediest children at under-enrolled schools. Kindergarten through third-grade classes are limited to 20 students, fourth-through-eighth-grade classes to 23 students, and high school to 25 students. A fifth of classrooms had to comply with the law this fall, with full compliance expected by 2028. At more than half of local high-poverty schools, most class sizes are larger than permitted by law, impacting over 322,000 city schoolchildren. Additionally, 40 high-poverty schools have every classroom exceeding state limits, and nearly all qualifying schools have at least one class that exceeds the caps. The city’s Education Department’s analysis compares schools within the system to each other, finding that schools with the largest shares of low-income kids have more classes that comply with the law. However, the percentage of classrooms meeting the law has decreased by 2% this school year. The UFT President criticized City Hall for undermining the efforts to reduce class sizes, estimating the law could cost up to $1.9 billion to hire additional teachers, amid budget cuts.