More hypocrisy from Bloomberg and Klein on class size

Check out this account, from the Queens Chronicle about a recent Town Hall meeting in Forest Hills:

The mayor said the school system in the city “is getting better,” but when Jenny Fisher, an Iraq War veteran who just earned a degree in elementary education asked Klein when the Department of Education would lift a hiring freeze on teachers, Bloomberg stepped in.

“We don’t have the money to hire new teachers,” he said. “I don’t want to lay off teachers and Joel just has to work with that restriction. Don’t blame him, blame me, I guess.”

Klein, speaking directly to Fisher, added, “I wish I could hire you. Our kids need it — lower class sizes and young, enthusiastic teachers.”

What utter hypocrisy! The city received $200 million in federal funds this summer specifically meant to hire more teachers for the 2010-2011 school year; (see the federal guidance here.) And yet the administration wants to hold onto these funds until the following year, despite the fact that they are anticipating a loss of 2,000 teaching positions and an increase in at least 18,000 students this fall.

Over the last four years, the DOE has misused hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds meant for class size reduction. They are canceling the Early Grade class size reduction program that had existed since 1999, which was dedicated to reducing class size in grades K-3rd.

There are currently 1700 teachers on Absent Teacher Reserve, getting paid full salaries, and yet the administration refuses to assign any of them to classes to lower class size; and would rather leave them in limbo, no matter what the damage to our children, to bolster their case for laying them off.

Bloomberg and Klein have done everything they can to resist providing our children with smaller classes that the New York's highest court said was their constitutional right. The result is that this fall we will likely see the sharpest increases in class size in twelve years, particularly in the early grades.

Kindergarten classes will probably be substantially larger than they were when Bloomberg first came into office, just as new research is revealing huge academic and economic benefits to keeping Kindergarten class sizes below twenty.

Already last year there were districts in the Bronx and Queens where nearly half of all Kindergarten students were in classes of 25 or more.

What a waste. We have new tests, new teacher evaluation systems based on unreliable test scores, a new organizational structure, and new experimental online learning systems, and yet our class sizes will be more overcrowded than ever.

Despite all their claims, this administration could care less about providing proven educational reforms such as smaller classes, in their zeal to waste money devising more damaging experiments on our children.

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