Thank you to the following Professors that signed their names to this letter.
Dear Governor Spitzer and members of the State Legislature:
As professors of education, we are writing to strongly recommend that a significant portion of the additional funds that New York City public schools are due to receive be devoted to lowering class size in all grades. No teacher, no matter how skilled or well prepared, can be as effective in the large classes that exist in most of our city’s public schools. New York City classrooms are in fact larger than those in suburban and rural school districts across New York State. Yet, New York City students, are more likely to be English Language Learners and/or living in poverty and thus require more individual attention and help from their teachers than average students in the rest of the state. The systemic disadvantage of being placed in classes of 28 students or more cannot be overcome through even the most sophisticated teacher education and professional development.
Though schools in high-poverty neighborhoods need smaller classes than most other schools, every New York City public school should benefit from class sizes as small as those that currently exist throughout the rest of the state. The research on class size is quite convincing and demonstrates that students learn more in smaller (17 or less) and medium size classes (24 or less) than in larger classes (25 or more). Reducing class sizes is also correlated with a reduction in referral rates to special education. As shown in the Chancellor’s District, the implementation of smaller classes is likely to lead, over time, to a much lower number of such referrals; which is, of course, a significant source of both cost savings, and substantially improved outcomes for students.
Smaller classes throughout the system and in all grades are also necessary to ensure the successful inclusion of children with disabilities into general education classrooms, which is, of course, a key point in IDEA. Finally, over time, smaller classes are likely to lead to higher quality teaching in two important ways: First, all teachers are more effective in smaller classes, no matter what their skill, teacher preparation, or experience level. In addition, class size reduction will likely lead to lower teacher attrition rates, which in New York City are twice as high as elsewhere in the state. Teachers consistently cite large class sizes as a key impediment to their effectiveness and student learning outcome studies back this up.
We believe strongly that more equitable outcomes depend on more equity in opportunity. There is no better way to achieve this goal, and improve teaching and learning in our public schools, than to invest a significant portion of these additional funds to lower class size.
Jacqueline Ancess, Ed.D., Co-Director, NCREST, Teachers College
Chuck Achilles, Ph.D., Seton Hall
Lee Ann Bell, Ed.D., Director, Barnard Education Program
David Bloomfield, Program Head, Educational Leadership, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Martin Blum, Assistant Dean, Hofstra University
Judith M. Burton, Professor and Director of Art and Art Education
James Corter, Associate Professor, Teachers College
Dr. Jeremy D. Finn, Professor of Education, State University of New York at Buffalo
Doris Fromberg, Ed.D., Director, Early Childhood Teacher Education, Hofstra University
William Gaudelli, Associate Professor, Teachers College
A. Lin Goodwin, Professor and Associate Dean, Teachers College
Barbara Hawkins, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Teachers College
Barbara Hruska, Assistant Professor, Teachers College
Judith Kaufman, Ph.D., Department Chair, Curriculum and Instruction, Hofstra University
Nancy Lesko, Professor, Teachers College
Maureen Miletta, Ed.D., Associate Professor, Hofstra University
Janet Miller, Professor, Teachers College
Celia Oyler, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Teachers College, Columbia University
Diane Ravitch, New York University
Susan Recchia, Associate Professor of Education, Teachers College
Luis O. Reyes, Ph.D., Visiting Fellow, Bronx Institute, Lehman College
Cathy Rikhye, Ed.D, Teachers College
Susan Reimer Sacks, Professor, Barnard College
Spencer Salend, Professor, SUNY New Paltz
Nancy Schniedewind, Professor, SUNY New Paltz
Jacqueline Shannon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Brooklyn College
Alan Singer, Ph.D., Professor of Curriculum and Teaching, Hofstra University
Robin M. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Special Education, SUNY New Paltz
Dr. Susan Goetz Zwirn, Graduate Director, Hofstra University