NYC School Overcrowding and How Parents Can Help

New York City has changed so much over the years.  Crime rates have plummeted and luxury developments have been popping up like wildfire as the population continues to grow.  The amount of families that are deciding to stay in the city rather than moving out to the suburbs of New Jersey, Westchester or Long Island is also increasing.  This means more children attending NYC public schools.  Overcrowding in schools is a major problem all over the city.  We see it here in District 15, though we are not the most overcrowded district, as classrooms fill to capacity.  First grade class size is a whopping 32 kids! That’s 32 six year old children with one teacher. If you compare how much a teacher makes annually with the cost of living in New York and combine that with having to deal with far more students than one person should ever have to deal with, it is no surprise that the teacher’s union just reported a looming teacher shortage in New York State.

We all want the best for our children and education is at the top of that list.  Many families have made the decision to stay in this wonderful city. They contribute to the city’s economy and are involved in the community. They can only hope that their children’s school experience reflects all of this, yet overcrowding remains a huge issue for them. There are many other issues that affect the potential of our individual kids attending New York City Public Schools that parents are also concerned with.  Is every kid getting the services they need to succeed, such as speech, OT, or counseling? Is your child being offered options to meet their individual needs, such as a combined G&T/ICT class for twice exceptional children or adequate schools/programs for Deaf children or children of Deaf adults who use American Sign Language to communicate? Does every school have space to run around for especially active kids? So, what can we do about overcrowding and these other educational needs that we are feeling so acutely in New York City? Here are a few ideas:

Write, email, tweet, or call your state and city representatives! Mayor DeBlasio has addressed class size issues in the city.  Let him know that this is still a top priority for you and your family.  Contact New York City School Chancellor Carmen Farina and ask her to fight for and with us! Contact our state representatives and let your voice be heard!

Advocate for your kids! Get involved with or contribute to the advocacy group Class Size Matters, which the New York Times has called the “city’s leading proponent of smaller classes”. They have a great section on their website with updated actions you can take.  Right now they have a 5 minute survey for the 2017-18 school year.

Become a parent leader! Join your schools PTA and attend community meetings. To become involved on the highest level you can learn more about joining one of the four Citywide Education Councils. Each council has appointed parent members and holds regular meetings. Learn more about that here.

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