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Smaller Classes

May 31, 2006 am31 9:06 am

Rarely is an idea so unambiguously correct. But we still manage to dig up two categories of arguments agains:

1.The union variety:

a. class-size is an inappropriate subject for bargaining (pttthhhht. Article 7M of our contract).

b. Or, if we get money for reduced class-size, it will reduce our pay. This argument accepts that our job in bargaining is to accept the money the City offers , and decide how to distribute it. It is ridiculous. (“Get the BoE to buy cheaper chalk and paper – the good stuff is coming out of our salaries” ???? Same argument, isn’t it?)

2. The amazing claim that kids don’t learn better when classes are smaller. There are instances where learning takes place completely through lecture – in those cases size doesnt’ matter. But in much of our teaching in NYC, expecially in the earlier grades, but in high school as well, smaller classes mean more teacher attention to each student in class, and more teacher attention to each student’s work out of class. In schools where discipline is a major issue, smaller classes generally have fewer discipline issues, etc, etc.

So, this should be a contractual issue, not a ballot issue. Back in the day when the TWU was really tough, they would include keeping transit fares low as part of their contract negotiations. (!) We should treat class size the same way.

But we are going the ballot route. Not my first choice. It is not where we are most powerful. But still very important for improving schools in New York.

New Yorkers for Smaller Classes is doing a lot. Go. Read their stuff. Sign their petition. Go to the rally next Wednesday.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2006 pm30 10:18 pm 10:18 pm

    I don’t follow that contract argument. I could have sworn class size was actually mandated by the contract at 34 max.

    Furthermore, Klein’s 8-page monstrosity contained a clause that specifically prohibited any limit whatsoever on class size.

    So much for “children first.”

  2. June 3, 2006 am30 12:40 am 12:40 am

    When asked about bargaining for smaller class size in the past, some of our leaders responded:
    1, That class size is not an appropriate area for collective bargaining, and
    2. That smaller classes would cost money that would then not be avaiablle for salaries.

    1. I know we can bargain over class size, becasue we have in th past. How do I know? I see it in the contract (7M)
    2. We should bargain for money not just ourselves, but for the schools.

    btw, 34 in high schools. Less in elementary and middle.

  3. June 3, 2006 pm30 6:04 pm 6:04 pm

    I want to express my sincere gratitude to folks like you who actually read the contract and teach math. I’d also like to thank special ed. teachers.

    It’s only because people like you are out there doing these things that people like me don’t have to. And while I haven’t read the contract, I’ve taught both math and special ed.


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