Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Four Horsemen Of The Ed-Apocalypse

From classsizematters
Today, results were released from a survey of more than one third of all NYC public school principals. Fifty-four percent of principals say that the enrollment at their own school is not capped at a level to prevent overcrowding. Fifty percent say that overcrowding sometimes leads to unsafe conditions for students or staff; 43% observe that overcrowding makes it difficult for students and/or staff to get to class on time.Nearly half (48%) of respondents believe that the official utilization rate of their own schools as reported by the Department of Education is inaccurate; more than half (51%) of principals whose schools are reported as underutilized say that the official rate is incorrect. Eighty six percent believe that class sizes at their schools are too large to provide a quality education – and that the primary factors that prevent them from reducing class size are a lack of control over enrollment and space. More than one fourth (26%) of all middle and high school principals say that overcrowding makes it difficult for their students to receive the credits and/or courses needed to graduate on time. At 25% of schools, art, music or dance rooms have been lost to academic classrooms; 20% of computer rooms have been swallowed up; 18% of science rooms; 14% of reading enrichment rooms, and 10% of libraries have been converted to classroom space. At 29% of schools, lunch starts at 10:30 AM or earlier; and at 16% of schools, students have no regular access to the school’s library. 18% of principals reported that their schools have classrooms with no windows. Many said that special education classes and services were being given in inadequate spaces, including closets. Principals also reported ongoing battles with DOE over their schools’ capacity ratings, and expressed resentment at being assigned excessive numbers of students, particularly when they tried to use available funding to reduce class size.Many observed that the problem of overcrowding has been exacerbated due to DOE policies: 27% said that overcrowding at their schools had resulted from new schools or programs having been moved into their buildings in recent years; and several reported that the decision to add grade levels in order to create more K-8 and 6-12 schools had led to worse conditions. Emily Horowitz, co-author of the report and professor at St. Francis College says, “The results of this survey should appall every New Yorker with a conscience. Principals report that their schools are seriously overcrowded, with excessive class sizes and insufficient enrichment space, even though the official data continues to show that they have extra room. I hope that the Department of Education pays close attention and revises the way school capacity is calculated - and admits the critical need to build more schools.” According to Leonie Haimson, co-author and Executive Director of Class Size Matters, “The administration has devolved more responsibility and autonomy to principals, claiming that they have all the tools they need to succeed. Yet principals themselves observe that they have no control over some of the most important factors that determine the quality of education they can provide: the allocation of space and the number of students assigned to their schools. Until and unless the DOE adopts a more aggressive capital plan, the condition of our schools – and the future of NYC schoolchildren --will not significantly improve.” As Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the NYC Education Committee concludes: “We've known for years that official statistics on overcrowding and capacity were wrong but now we have hard data to show just how wrong. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a multi-million dollar no-bid consulting contract to see that the current capital plan and budget cannot even begin to remedy the conditions described in this survey - facilities that fail to provide the setting for a sound, basic education. In light of this information, we will be looking and listening especially hard to DOE and SCA testimony at tomorrow's budget hearings on the capital plan."

No comments: