Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Contracts for Mediocrity

Today, the New York Sun reported that the "Contracts for Excellence" money has been delayed because the State is wary of the City's highly contested plan. Many say that the plan, which devotes the money to 5 categories which can be determined principal by principal, has given no clear plan on how to reduce the City's ginormous (i hope my English teacher isn't reading this,) class sizes (but then again she'd know that it's hard to describe NYC's class sizes as anything other than ginormous) nor has it given enough money to be devoted specifically to that purpose. This great backlash, coming from students, parents, teachers and politicians, has resulted in a "standoff" between New York City and the State.

Last year, the NYC Student Union, having some sort of odd premonition of the City's future plans, lobbied Governor Spitzer's office about setting aside a good portion of CFE money to lower class sizes in New York City. Representatives of the Union also testified at the mandated DoE hearings on the issue and even blogged about it at the NYC Students Blog.

Class size is definitely an important issue (for reasons so numerous I'll have to write another post about it.) But in shorter terms my main argument for more class size money has been this: whatever programs we have to better our classrooms, be they improving teacher quality, creating new and innovative curricula, or even working for more "time on task", will fail if smaller class sizes aren't realized. Even tif they are good and well designed programs (which we definitely need), there is just something inherently impossible about teaching or learning in our current class size conditions. How can you really keep a class of 34 "on task"?

It seems that the DoE is honestly trying to fix a lot of problems with this new funding. I personally think they have really good intentions. In NYC, however, none of those problems can be solved until we can remedy the Class Size crisis.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree, but how can schools effectively, and in organized fashion, lower class size without more funding for more staff?

Seth said...

The reason that the Contracts for Excellence is issue is about class size is that by putting "money to reduce class size" you are really putting money into hiring more teachers

Seth said...
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Ben Shanahan said...

i agree and also, more space should be built and/or refurbished