Posts Tagged ‘class size’

PSAT for 5-7-13: Say no to 36!

Monday, May 6th, 2013

psat_logoWhen it come to class size, research shows that less really is more.

Raise Your Hand Illinois came to prominence in the spring of 2010 with their “Say No to 37” campaign, a protest against CPS plans to balance the budget by raising class size.

Now RYH is sponsoring a petition against the Chicago Public Schools space utilization formula used to declare dozens of schools “underutilized” and therefore in danger of closure this year. According to this formula, 36 children in a room is considered an “efficient” use of space, i.e. you can have 36 students in every homeroom in CPS and not be considered overcrowded. RYH charges that many of CPS’ plans for closings will lead to overcrowding next year.

The petition asks CPS to revise their space utilization policy.

For Public Schools Action Tuesday (a day early) please sign and share their petition.

CTU striking for better schools

Monday, September 10th, 2012

It seems very odd to be in Phoenix getting my mom settled back into her home after a summer with us, rather than in Chicago where all the action is.

But the whole world IS watching, and it’s not because the whole world really cares that much about a local city labor dispute. It’s because this is a fight about the very nature of public education and the needs of middle class families.

Read this letter by Teacher X’s (the amazing Xian Barrett) to JC Brizard for a powerful take on what’s at stake. Here’s a taste.

  • When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.
  • When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.
  • When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.
  • When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

Even though my marching shoes have gotten a little dusty, I’d be out there today.

My sons were in preschool and second grade during the last CTU strike. I didn’t know much about school politics then (ah… so young!), but I supported the teachers then, and became aware soon afterwards how much changed as a result of that strike – most notably, the creation of local school councils.

I hope and believe that we will look back on this strike with the same sense of pride in what we did here in Chicago. My dream is that this movement will bring about an elected school board for our city, the establishment of an independent training center for local school councils (let’s name it in honor of Don Moore), class size limits and parental testing opt-out rights enacted in state law, a moratorium on school closings, and, yes, air conditioning in every school!

I’m so proud of the CTU and of the parents, students and community members who have rallied around them. There’s a REAL “Won’t Back Down story, folks.

Tweet the President on class size

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

This week PURE and some other parent groups released a press statement thanking President Obama for recognizing the importance of class size in his weekly address, and for releasing a report that shows how the elimination of 60,000 teaching positions since 2009 is not only unprecedented in US postwar history, but has led to class size increases that are severely damaging the quality of our public schools.

Our press release pointed out that the Obama administration has proposed an education budget that would cut $650M from federal class size reduction funds, and that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has also told right wing groups over the last few years that he thinks that schools should respond to budget cuts with “smartly targeted increases in class size.”

PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, founder of the NYC parent advocacy group Class Size Matters, reports that last night, the President made another speech about the importance of smaller classes in Nevada, and he tweeted the following message:

Use the hashtag #ClassSizeMatters to share why you think our kids need more teachers in the classroom.

Hmmm. Almost sounds like a personal invitation!

Leonie reports that there have been hundreds of tweets in response to the President’s message. She asks:

I hope that all you who are already on twitter might take a few seconds to send out a message about why you think #ClassSizeMatters and copy the president at @BarackObama and me at @leoniehaimson

For more ideas, please read PAA’s fact sheet, “Why Class Size Matters.” 

Parent leaders hail the President’s focus on the need for smaller classes

Monday, August 20th, 2012

For Immediate Release: August 19, 2012

For more information:
Leonie Haimson (NY): 917-435-9329;
Pamela Grundy (NC): 407-375-4222; .
Robin Hiller (AZ): 520-668-4634;
Wendy Lecker (CT): 203-536-7567;
Becky Malone (IL); 773- 793-0355;
Karen Miller (TX): 281-893-8877; 832-372-4742;
Julie Woestehoff (IL): 773 -715-3989;

Parent leaders hail the President’s focus on the need for smaller classes

Parent leaders throughout the nation thank President Obama for recognizing the importance of class size in his weekly address, and for releasing a report that shows how the elimination of 60,000 teaching positions since 2009 is not only unprecedented in US postwar history, but has led to class size increases that are severely damaging the quality of our public schools.

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, said: “The President’s speech yesterday and the new White House report, Investing in our Future, make it crystal clear that the class size increases across the nation represent a crisis that is severely undermining our children’s opportunity to learn.  As the White House report shows, class size reduction has been strongly linked to higher achievement, higher levels of engagement, and higher rates of attending college.  Yet here in New York City, our youngest students are suffering from the largest classes in 13 years, despite the fact that surveys show that class size reduction is the top priority of parents, year after year.  As a city and a nation, we must do better.”

Pamela Grundy, parent leader and co-founder of Mecklenburg ACTS in Charlotte NC, says: “In North Carolina we have been fortunate to have state and local leaders acknowledge the importance of small classes, especially in our state’s many high poverty schools. Yet budget cuts in have severely undercut this reform and our children are bearing the consequences.  We greatly appreciate the President’s efforts to reverse this damaging trend, and we urge him to follow through on the federal level by restoring the $650 million that his proposed education budget eliminates from the Title II program, money that is currently used by states and districts to reduce class size and keep teachers on staff.”

Robin Hiller, Executive Director of Voices for Education, agrees: “Here in Arizona, schools are suffering from class sizes of 32 in Kindergarten and 44 in high school. There is nothing that is more important than bringing these stratospheric class sizes down if we want our children to succeed. We urge Congress to fully fund the President’s Jobs act and to restore all cuts to Title II, and for our State Legislature to do its part by ensuring that our public schools have the resources they need for smaller classes, rather than diverting public funds to vouchers, for-profit charter schools, and other privatization schemes.”

Wendy Lecker, one of the co-founders of Parents Across America – Connecticut, adds: “We applaud the fact that the President acknowledges that reasonable class size and an adequate supply of teachers are essential to a quality education and are basic resources that all public schools must have. Here in Connecticut, schools in high poverty areas continue to have much larger class sizes than in wealthier districts. We wish that our Governor and State Education Department would pay attention to the need for equitable class sizes, rather than their current focus on taking control of our public schools away from our communities and putting them into the hands of private corporations.”

Becky Malone of 19th Ward Parents in Chicago says: “Class sizes in Chicago remain the largest in the state, and 95% of Illinois school districts have smaller classes than we do. Worse yet, the disparities have increased. While average class size has decreased statewide over the last ten years, it has increased in our city’s public schools. This is simply unacceptable if we are going to provide equitable learning conditions to all children, but especially our most at-risk students who need small classes the most.”

Karen Miller, parent leader in Texas and a former state PTA legislative chair points out: “Texas was one of the first states to reduce class size, with caps of 22 students in grades K-4, adopted by Governor Mark White and the Legislature in 1984. Yet over $5 billion has been slashed from the state education budget this past year. This has caused class sizes to soar, tripling the number of districts that have applied for and received waivers, representing nearly 30 percent of all elementary schools in the state. Surveys show that voters overwhelming support smaller classes; research shows that they boost student achievement, particularly for disadvantaged children. We cannot claim to care about our children, as a state or a nation, and allow class size to rise any higher.”

Julie Woestehoff, Executive Director of Parents United for Responsible Education in Chicago, concludes: “I hope that all of us, including parents, teachers, and our elected leaders, can pull together and invest in our children in the way that research shows really makes a difference: by reducing class size.”


Trying again today to vote CPS school closing moratorium out of committee

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

UPDATE: The Senate Education Committee hearing on SB 3239 was postponed yesterday, most likely because the sponsors and CPS are sill negotiating amendments.

The hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, March 27 at 9 am in Springfield.


Jim Broad way gives us a heads-up on today’s 4 pm Senate Education Committee meeting. Please make another call to the committee members this morning in support of SB 3239, the school closing moratorium bill. This bill would prevent CPS from closing any schools until the end of the 2013-14 school year at the earliest. It also requires that CPS “develop policies to remedy academic deficiencies in schools where students are testing ‘at or below 75%’ standards on state assessments, and to include in those policies clear criteria for board actions relating to school facility interventions such as closures.” A novel concept…

In your call/fax/e-mail, please also ask the committee members to support Senator Lightford’s lower class size bill, SB 3362. Lowering class size is one of only four strategies proven by the federal education department’s research arm to improve student achievement, a list that does NOT include school closings, wholesale staff firings, turnarounds, or conversion to charter schools.


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.