The new bill affecting classroom sizes restricts classrooms to no more than 20, 23, or 25 students depending on the grade level.
Classroom sizes make a difference. The more students there are in a class the more difficult it is for teachers to meet students’ individual needs and properly command the room. Now, a New York bill has passed regarding this issue and is set to ensure that classes do not exceed reasonable sizes.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the bill Thursday. This was after updating the policy during talks with Mayor Eric Adams and other state officials. While the legislation works to reduce classroom sizes it will not fully take effect until 2028 and has received criticism for seeking to bloat the state’s education budget.
The bill now works to slowly introduce smaller classroom sizes over the course of five years. It will slowly begin implementation starting next fall. The pacing is expected to make the transition easier on students and educators while offering a realistic timeline for the mandate. By 2028, students enrolled in kindergarten through the third grade will be taught in groups of no more than 20 children. Fourth grade students will be taught in groups of 23 through their eighth grade year. High school students will be taught in classes of no more than 25 children at a time.
It is a plan that received much support from lawmakers. It was close to passing unanimously in June, but also includes a two-year extension granting the mayor control over city schools. In addition, the new plan to reduce classroom sizes will cost at least $500 million annually. This cost increase is likely to grow due to teachers’ demands for higher pay and more benefits.
The question of the necessity of the bill has also been raised being that New York has experienced a 5% drop in public school enrollment throughout the past two years. In addition to losing over one-hundred-thousand students, New York has recently experienced a 40% rate of chronic absenteeism, meaning that the remaining students are missing long periods of class time. If the state is serving less students, then classroom sizes may already be reducing themselves without government interference.
Support for smaller classroom sizes is high, yet parents are not fully in favor of the new bill. Protestors gathered outside of Hochul’s Manhattan office in a last-ditch effort to prevent its passage. They fear that the Gifted Program and other helpful learning efforts will be hindered by the specifics of the new legislation. Instead, these protestors have advocated for accelerated learning and other student support groups. Despite this, the new classroom size bill has been signed and will start taking effect in the fall of 2023.
How this new classroom size bill affects student progress, enrollment rates, attendance, and education spending is uncertain. What is known is that lawmakers highly favor the measure despite much pushback from parents. This comes just before a tense election season, rife with education politics. This new bill holds the power to sway voters and encourage various changes but that will all be determined after parents go to the polls and cast their vote in November.