NYC Class Sizes Are Outrageously Large, Bill Looks To Change That

A bill is looking to make New York City's massive class sizes smaller, but not all education officials agree that it will be feasible.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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class sizes

Public schools are rife with issues, and the situation only seems to be getting worse. As teachers are showing a mass exodus from the profession, there are a plethora of reasons culminating in this, but a major issue is teacher burnout from workload and in some instances, class sizes. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average teacher-to-student ratio in America is 15 students to 1 teacher. But in New York City, that ratio is much higher. Now, a state bill looks to change that.

A state bill passed through the New York State Assembly last Friday, taking aim at the outrageously large class sizes found in New York City’s public schools. As it currently stands, class sizes hold up to 34 students in one classroom. In kindergarten classrooms, teachers were assigned no more than 25 students. For all other elementary grades, a teacher could have up to 32 students to tend to. And for middle school and high school, classes could accommodate up to 34 children. 

The bill, if signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul, would lessen the stress on New York City teachers, by downsizing class sizes. Within the legislation, the bill called for no more than 20 students in grades up to third. Fourth through eighth-grade classes would be capped at 23 children, and high school at 25 students. 

If this new law is enacted, the New York City Mayor who currently has mayoral control of the public schools would be given a phase-in period of five years to mitigate class sizes. Furthermore, state lawmakers told Adams that in order to keep control, he needed to demonstrate accountability measures for the school system over the next two years. Despite research and data conveying how pertinent a well-rounded education can be due to teacher-student ratio, Mayor Adams has strongly disapproved of the idea to shrink class sizes in New York City.

For decades, research and data have backed the notion that smaller class sizes offer a better education experience for students. When teachers have fewer students to teach, coursework can be better framed for the student’s needs. Likewise, they can assign homework and assignments that best fit the needs of the class. Small class sizes also are known to display better participation rates among pupils. But despite all this, some New York City officials feel that this move will be detrimental to schools.

Mayor Adams and New York City school chancellor have continuously pointed to research and the trade-offs that students could face with smaller class sizes. He pointed out that the school system is already lacking sufficient educators, and questioned how this endeavor would be feasible. They alleged that this could mean the district would need to hire educators that may not be ready for the classroom yet. Likewise, both defectors pointed to the hefty amount of funding needed to cut class sizes down. 

class sizes

Still, lawmakers fought back against the Mayor’s claims, pointing to the more than $1 billion in funding the city has access to use for this initiative. For now, however, the legislation is all hearsay, as it still has to be signed into law by New York’s governor. Whether or not lowering class sizes can make a dent in the failing state of the city’s education, is still unclear for some time.