Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why does the DOE insist on putting ATRs in the position of usurping topics for students' classes?

Following on some other questions that we posed to the UFT, ATRs should also pose to these questions to the UFT this week at meetings:
Why is New York City DOE expecting ATRs to displace the subject agenda of the classes that they cover? Why is the UFT acting as the glove to the DOE's hand on this policy? It's a disservice to both students and teachers.

This week the UFT is holding informational meetings in which it tells ATRs what the DOE expects of them. In previous years the UFT told ATRs not to worry about the field supervisors, that the only ATRs getting U ratings are ATRs having attendance or conduct problems. However, in the 2014 to 2015 school year numerous ATRs got career threatening U ratings. As noted recently, because of the rash of the U-ratings that teachers suddenly received after two decades of unblemished services, some ATRs have begun pursuing lawsuits. The UFT, incredibly, has staunchly backed the expectation that ATRs be evaluated in subbing contexts. In a vastly under-recognized problem that the union is ignoring, many decent teachers are receiving U-ratings with students that they have just met. Read this Chaz blog post and this post too. Just how will the UFT defend its record if the Supreme Court's decision on the Friedrichs v. CTA case goes the wrong way for teachers' unions? "Be thankful you've got a job" doesn't cut it when the UFT is asleep at the switch on the issue of inappropriate field observer observations that become U-ratings for the year.

It is a good occasion then, to closely examine the awkward and contentious role that ATRs are put into as they impose their lessons that are often irrelevant and disruptive to students' daily class schedules.

For the general public and for ATRs new to the rotation process:
In normal school systems and in the NYC DOE before rotation of ATRs began in 2011, schools had teachers provide their assistant principals with timely lesson plans that fit in with the sequence of topics in the calendar of lessons that teachers had with classes.

However, since the DOE began rotating excessed teachers, it has expected ATRs to bring in lessons of their own into classrooms. So, in the Bloomberg and not really post-Bloomberg era, administrators and regular classroom teachers usually have no lesson for the ATRs. This means that not only are the students missing out on an education by the absence or their teacher, there is no appropriate lesson for the ATR substitute teacher to deliver to the students. The students' sequence of learning is disrupted.

Just what does the DOE expect for the ATR to do in this situation? The DOE official policy is that when neither the school administration, nor the absent teacher leaves a lesson the ATR should bring in their own lesson. And given that most ATRs are displaced specialists of some sort, an art teacher, an earth science teacher, an English teacher, a math teacher, a reading specialist, a social studies teacher, they have very specialized backgrounds and very specialized lessons. However, often the subject specialty does not match the subject that the ATR is covering.

Thus, the application of the DOE rules means that in art class the ATR following the DOE field supervisor mandates must intrude with their own lesson. This means that students enter their third period art studio class fully expecting to do some drawing. Yet, the English Language Arts teacher must deliver a Common Core lesson, engage the students and get some written work from the students. If the ATR does not impose her own lesson, she will risk running into trouble with her field supervisor. Not surprisingly, this introduces tension between the students and the teacher right off the bat. The students will say, "This makes no sense. This is an art class, not an English class. I'm not going to do this." The ATR that wants to stay on good graces with the field supervisor she will tell the students, "Just please do my lesson. I'm only following orders."

Just imagine the kind of conversation that this can lead to when the kids go home?
"How was school today? What did you do in art class?"
"We didn't do art. We had to read some English teacher's Common Core reading passage and work in groups on a graphic organizer."

Even if the period's subject matches the ATR's subject expertise this leads to conflicts. We are not in France, where every class across the city is on precise the same topic on September 29. Earth science ATRs can have a fine lesson, only to be told "we learned that last week!"

Isn't this a great disservice to students? The UFT claims to care about students and families. Then why does it aid and abet the hijacking of students' scheduled topics for the purpose of ATR's demo lessons in preparation for field supervisor fly-by observations?

Isn't this a disservice to teachers? Can't the UFT understand that teachers don't like disrupting students' schedule of lessons with irrelevant topics to students' scheduled topic for the period? This is no insignificant matter, particularly as many field supervisors are giving out career-endangering U-ratings.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why is the ATR pool still growing under deBlasio? Plus some questions ahead of the upcoming UFT ATR meetings

What's happening with the growing ATR pool?

It is unconfirmed that the Absent Teacher Reserve Pool has grown to as many as 4,000. What is driving the increasing number of excessed DOE staff? Despite the end of Bloomberg era closures, the growth of new schools and the growth of charters continues. As newer schools grow, taking more students, more classrooms, more teachers, existing schools lose students, lose space and lose staff. For those not in the know, the ATR pool includes guidance counselors (colloquially called ACRs, as they number in the hundreds), social workers, psychologists, librarians, besides strictly instructional staff. And by the way, the UFT has failed to unionize or demand that the DOE permanently hire various professionals such as part-time or itinerant nurses and guidance counselors. The UFT tolerates this privatized staffing, euphemistically called "service providers."

The DOE/UFT tell us that people are leaving the ATR pool. The DOE and the UFT both play the same numbers games, not giving us straight numbers about the ATR pool.

Members need to ask the UFT directly:

--How many people have been appointed from the pool, into schools?  That is, how many people have truly, permanently, left the ACR/ATR pool?
--How many people are filling a maternity or illness leave position?
--How many people are are in a position only for a semester or only for the current academic year?
--Given that the Fair School Funding formula, also known as the Fair Student Funding formula, has been the reason that principals themselves cite for not permanently placing or hiring staff out of the pool, why is the UFT not aggressively fighting the Fair School Funding formula?
--Why is the UFT not fighting for an amendment to the contract to bring seniority rights into hiring practices?
--Why is the UFT not fighting the well-known practice of DOE administrators to hire new staff over members of the Absent Teacher Reserve?

Does the UFT really want all ATRs to attend their meetings?
New excessing will occur in October, as class registers stabilize, after schools have accounted for student attendance patterns. According to the DOE's arcane excessing guidelines the excessing is concentrated in batches of staff in certain licenses, for example, a school can be found compelled to excess three teachers because of declined enrollment. As a result schools, can lose vital staff such as special education teachers, librarians or guidance counselors.

The timing of the meetings at the end of September and very early in October is not the best for the excessed staff. Many teachers and other DOE staff across the city will lose their positions in schools and will enter the ATR pool, yet they will not be introduced to the DOE's protocols for ATRs, as they would receive in the official UFT meetings for ATRs.

Here again are the official ATR meetings that the UFT has scheduled for the next two weeks:
Note that many of the meetings conflict with DOE staff obligations at schools. The 2014 contract introduced new obligations for teachers and other staff to stay late at schools. At most schools these dates fall on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

We hope that your year is off to a good start. As promised, we are contacting you to let you know that the UFT will be holding informational meetings for ATRs in the coming weeks. Whether you are new to the ATR pool or not, we want to make sure you have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers.
Here are the dates and locations. Note the changed dates and times, since the announcements earlier this week, following complaints:


  • Date: originally, Monday, Sept. 28. Rescheduled to Wednesday, Sept. 30, due to complaints about Sept. 28 falling on Sukhot (the UFT has not shared this change thru mass email; details and of this change have spread by word of mouth)
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT Queens borough office at 97-77 Queens Blvd. Directions »


  • Date: Monday, Sept. 28, still, despite = Sukhot
  • Time: 4:30–6 p.m. Note the later start time, but not the later finishing time.
  • Location: UFT Bronx borough office at 2500 Halsey St. Directions »


  • Date: Thursday, Oct. 1
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway Directions »

Staten Island

  • Date: Thursday, Oct. 1
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT Staten Island borough office at 4456 Amboy Road Directions »


  • Date: Monday, Oct. 5, difficult for many teachers because 2014 contract compels teachers to stay late on two days, usually Monday and Tuesday; and at many schools faculty conferences (a late day, UFT brass, in case you didn't know) fall on the first Monday of the month
  • Time: 4:30–6 p.m. Later starting time, but original finishing time, asinthe Bronx meetings.
  • Location: UFT Brooklyn borough office at 335 Adams St. Directions »

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lawsuit material & official ATR meetings

When observations in rotations began in fall, 2011, the UFT was full of excuses. Observations in rotation were appropriate, they were in just a few districts and lastly, they were just part of a pilot program.

Now that these observations, are in full bloom, the U ratings are piling up. The teachers are observed out of grade license; they are observed out of subject license.  They are observed with students they have just met. The students know that they can misbehave, pay no attention, with no consequences to them. And now, with the all electronic devices access rights, teachers have an additional impediment handicapping their ability to maintain classroom management, an issue that then UFT secretary Michael Mendel said in fall 2011 was appropriate to judge ATRs on. 
For discussion of this absurdity, countenanced by the UFT, see this June's "Field Supervisors, the proverbial DOE Sandmen vs. ATRs."

As U ratings rain upon ATRs, the UFT's response? "We'll contest them when your 3020-a hearings come up."

Now, we hear that lawsuits are being planned. Is it any wonder?

Incidentally, amidst the chaos, the UFT is having its yearly borough-level meetings. Here is the 2015 schedule of official ATR meetings, in case you are not in the loop:

We hope that your year is off to a good start. As promised, we are contacting you to let you know that the UFT will be holding informational meetings for ATRs in the coming weeks. Whether you are new to the ATR pool or not, we want to make sure you have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers.
Here are the dates and locations:


  • Date: Monday, Sept. 28
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT Queens borough office at 97-77 Queens Blvd. Directions »


  • Date: Monday, Sept. 28
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT Bronx borough office at 2500 Halsey St. Directions »


  • Date: Thursday, Oct. 1
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway Directions »

Staten Island

  • Date: Thursday, Oct. 1
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT Staten Island borough office at 4456 Amboy Road Directions »


  • Date: Monday, Oct. 5
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT Brooklyn borough office at 335 Adams St. Directions »

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Who Am I Again? – In Which the Refurbished ATR Has an Identity Crisis

Another ATR declares:

I have a name.

Well, of course, you do. Don’t we all? You ask.

When you are down the Rabbit Hole into ATR Land, nothing can be taken for granted.

Even though this is my second time into the soup known as the ATR, this is the first time I was subjected to the weekly-monthly-random interval- let’s just f*** with them again because we CAN, rotation. In some ways, I found it better than being piled onto for a year, subjected to Danielson, Death By Professional Development, endless meetings, and the tyranny of bulletin boards. But there was one feeling that manifested itself in my gut that surprised me. It wasn’t the scrambling to scope out a locale, figure out whether to drive or take the train, or even adjusting to new schedules and timetables. Those things, while annoying, did not stir up particularly strong feelings in my. No, the thing that really got to me and made me want to rage against the machine caught me completely off guard.

In gaining rotating ATR status, I lost my name.

No one called me by my name, even though I used it when I introduced myself to everyone I met. I became “Sub”. “The ATR.” “The Coverage”. Even when I made it a point to introduce myself, no one bothered to use my name. I guess I wasn’t worth the syllables.

I was surprised at the dehumanization I felt at every turn because no one bothered to call me by name or even tell me theirs. For those of you who are not in this position, I invite you to put yourself into the following REAL scenarios and imagine how it would feel to be subjected to this every day, at every school, for 184 days. Didn’t matter if the schools were great, high performing schools or crap holes in the midst of poverty, it was always the same thing. People speak about you as if you are not there. Right in front of you as if you are furniture. And to them, it seems, you are.

Here are just a few examples of how people speak to and about ATRs.

From secretaries:

“Oh, I have the ATR here. Let me send her up there and you can tell her what to do.”

“Why are you worrying about that? Just let the ATR do it – it’s what she’s there for.”

“It’s the ATR on the phone. She wants a laptop for the Smart board. Is she allowed to touch the Smart board? No, I said it’s the ATR. Yeah. That one. Should we let her use a laptop?”

“Might want to just leave something easy. She’s just an ATR. You may not want her to actually have to TEACH anything.”

“You’ll have to take attendance. You DO know what attendance is, right?”

“You’re just an ATR. We don’t expect you to know anything.”

“No, you can’t have copies made. Copies are only for teachers.”

And now from teachers –

Often times, there was no “good morning” or “hello” when I walked in. As a matter of fact, there was very little eye contact. Even when I walked into the room with a smile and a cheerful, “Good morning”, or “Good afternoon!” I got no response except a brief nod as the teacher ran out the door.

I walked in on a baby shower in one school and was told, “This is only for teachers. It’s not for you. You need to leave.”

I think MAYBE three teachers actually introduced themselves and fewer asked me my name. More often the following statements were uttered:

“Ok, boys and girls. This teacher is my sub and she’ll be with you this period. Make sure you behave for this Sub!”

“Oh, you’re my sub. Great. My para will tell you what to do.”

“You’re here for me? Good. I’m leaving. Good luck!”

“You want to use the Smart Board? I don’t think so. Subs always mess it up and I need it, so just don’t touch it ok.”

“You’re an ATR? And they still allow you around the children?”

“Boys and girls, make sure you behave for this sub. “

“Are you my sub today? I told the office I needed a sub and I know they had extras and I want one!”

“Are those subs over there? Send one over. Doesn’t matter which. It’s all the same. Just give me one of those. No, not that one. The other one next to her.”

And from students –

“Are you just a sub or are you a real teacher?”

“Miss Sub!! Miss sub!! X is bothering me!”

“No, Miss Sub! We don’t do it like that. THAT is the green table not the blue one!”

“My teacher doesn’t like the subs to use the Smart board!”

“Hey, it’s the sub again! Can we watch a movie?”

“My teacher says subs can’t sit at her desk or touch the computer!”

Each incident, as small as it is, is like being stripped of your identity with tweezers. Each is just one little pinch, but repeated several times a day, day in and day out, and it becomes so painful you want to roar or cry, or maybe do both.

There were so many times that all I wanted was some acknowledgement that I was there, that I was helpful, and that I had a purpose. Eye contact and a smile. “Hi, I’m Mrs. Y. Thanks for taking my class today”. Introducing me to the class by name, not just “behave for the Sub!” I was shocked at how dehumanizing an experience this is. There were so many times I wanted to respond and lash out in frustration because all I wanted was to be treated like a person, and not a spare part.

Anyone who deals with ATRs and has ANY shred of empathy needs to keep these things in mind. Listen to yourself. Remember these are humans who are coming to you who have been already stripped of the professional status and dignity. Try not to add to their dehumanization.

I have been in your building for over a week. When I call down to the office with a question, don’t yell out, “The ATR is on the phone! She needs A and B!!” I can hear you. After the first day, try to remember my name. And if you forget, that’s okay. Just ask again and I’ll tell you.
When you are discussing my assignment and I am standing in the room please use my name. It’s really unpleasant to be treated like a piece of furniture. “Should Ms. K cover that period in 3rd grade” sounds much better than, “Well, I’ll just send the ATR up there.” Remember, I’m right there and I hear you.

Teachers, I know you are overworked. I know there is never enough time to get it all done, but please, try to remember that I am a person trying to help you. I am not the enemy and I am not incompetent. Judging by our ages, you were in kindergarten when I started teaching, and your turn in my position will come soon enough, I assure you. A simple handshake or introduction will go a long way. Introduce me to your class by name. The way you treat me will give them an indication of how much respect they should give me when you leave. If you see me more than once, try to remember my name, or at least say “Good morning” before you stop me in the hall and say, “Are you me today, because I am supposed to get a day off for planning!”

It comes down to a simple edict. Treat others as you would like to be treated when it’s your turn to be the ATR.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Allies Wanted: Apply Within - ATR responds to analysis of last week's decisions impacting NYC schools

An ATR writes:
  To the brave New Yorkers of Class size Matters, 

      To this day, I have not seen your organization come out and support and promote the permanent placement of displaced teachers, known as ATRs, into the schools of our great city.  For those of you who are unaware of these teachers, we were displaced out of our classrooms only to be on a monthly rotation, during the school year. The argument can and is made that "forced placement" of excessed teachers has been and was non-productive.  And to that statement, I whole heartily agree.  No one wants to work in a hostile environment.  What we in the ATR pool have been fighting for is the:

1. Elimination of the ATR classification.  This classification brands many good and decent teachers as failures because of the Bloomberg/Klein school closing policies, which directly contributed to the excessed teacher pool.

2. Elimination of the so called "Fair funding" policy, period.  This funding practice gave the school principals control of their staff's salaries.  To this day, I have not heard of one ATR that has 10 or more years of DOE service being appointed to a school.  The purpose of this funding policy was to eliminate senior teachers from the school budget.

     It has been argued that this needs to be negotiated under the present school contract.  How can the union argue for the elimination of these two barriers if the parents of the city have no idea what the problem is?  What needs to be done is for this organization to make the Dept. of Education's dirty little secret known to the parents.  The questions will start to be asked and answers must be given that will satisfy the concerns of the parents.  To argue that there are some "bad apples," please excuse the pun, in the ATR rolls is 100% correct.  I am not advocating for them.  I am fighting for the teachers, who for the last 20 years have gotten up each morning at 5AM or earlier, come in, do the best that they can and then work until midnight, or later, grading and marking student's work.  

   It is said that to be a NYC teacher, one must work at least 5 years to be considered experienced enough to handle the day-to-day problems faced in the classroom.  Why demonize and attack the very people that have the experience needed to handle these problems.  Would any of you go to an oncologist just out of med school to treat stage 2 or worse cancer, or would you seek the most experienced doctor money could buy?  Oh and I'll bet a month's salary that the doctor you'd choose was taught by experienced teachers.  Then, why would you allow the system to allow good, caring and yes, EXPERIENCED teachers to be allowed to wither in a system that is designed to do nothing other than the forced retirement, resignation, or termination or people who have been demoralized due to this treatment.

   In conclusion, we are asking class size matters to make this apart of your goal to bring down class sizes by helping bring this disgraceful abuse to an end once and for all. 

Thank you, 


On Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 2:32 PM, Class Size Matters <info@classsizematters.org> wrote:
Dear      ,
I wanted to update you on the state deal announced yesterday and the city budget deal finalized the day before, especially as they affect our public schools.
1.  The state deal between the leaders of the Legislature and the Governor known as the “big ugly” could have been uglier. It did not include the huge giveaway to billionaires and private schools in the form of a voucher-like education tax credit, but instead would provide an additional $250 million in state funds sent directly to private and parochial schools to pay for various services. The property tax cap that is hurting education funding outside NYC will remain mostly unchanged.
In NYC, mayoral control will be extended – but only for one year, which could allow parents and advocates more time to organize to reform the system. As for testing, more questions will be released after the state exams are given, and teachers will be allowed to talk about the exams afterward, though whether this will have any effect on these highly flawed tests or Common Core standards is yet to be seen.
The deal also included a slight lifting of the charter cap – as 22 new slots out of a total of 50 for NYC, ineligible under the old cap will now be allowed, and three more to be re-allocated to the city from the rest of the state. As Speaker Heastie pointed out, the Republicans in the Senate are eager to direct charter schools to NYC, though never to their own districts.
NYC already has the vast majority of charters, and because of last year’s budget deal has the legal obligation to provide all new and expanding charters with free space at the city expense, while already suffering from the worst school overcrowding and the highest real estate costs in the state. It could have been much worse of course. The Governor and the Senate leaders originally wanted to raise the cap by 100 and remove all geographical restrictions, which could have meant 250 additional charters flooding NYC instead of 25 more.
Ironically, during his press conference, Cuomo cited the overcrowding in NYC public schools as one of the reasons the state needed to support the parochial schools; to keep them open especially as so many NYC public schools still have trailers.
2.  Speaking of overcrowding, despite the overwhelming need, nothing was accomplished in the city budget to expand its inadequate capital plan to build more schools – a plan that provides less than half the seats necessary. Little new at all was added to the education budget through the Council’s negotiations; except for 50 more phys ed teachers, 80 more crossing guards, and free breakfast given to elementary school students in their classrooms. (Never mind that because of school overcrowding, many students are assigned to lunch as early as 10 AM or as late as 2 PM). Oh yes, we will also get 1300 more police. According to the Commissioner Bratton, he intends to put many of them outside schools. (!)
I wish I had better news to report, but we’re not giving up when there are at least half a million students attending overcrowded schools with huge class sizes every day, and the situation worsening– without the city providing any real plan to address this crisis.
Talk to you soon,
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tired, old, excuses

  Yesterday was the last day of the school year, 2014/2015.  It was the year that all of us had longed for, after 12, long, agonizing years.  Finally we were to be made whole once again.  We had a mayor [sic] who ran on being the mayor that would reverse the Bloombitch/Klein reign of terror.  What did we wake up to that September morning last fall?  Were we to go to our permanent schools and start to clean, arrange and decorate our classrooms?  NO!  We as the Walking Dead were "forced" to report our ATR assignments.  Later that month, we were "forced" to go on "mandated interviews".  After our first rotation, we were again "forced" to go to a new school, were we were "forced" to be substitute teachers and "forced" to have to endure the indignities of both students and staff, the latter of which were, in some cases, 30 years our juniors.  

  Today I was supported by the entire 7th grade class of the school I was lucky enough to be "forced" rotated into.  The question arose while I was on my way home, should I let our union [another sic] know and could they put in a word for me?  My answer to that is "forced placements have been eliminated!"  But "forced" rotations, interviews and assignments are permitted by our holier-than-thou union.  
  The answer to this problem would simply be "vote the bastards out!"  But how can we when the newborns are "forced" to vote for the one party that will "force" them out of teaching and "force" the greatest kids in the universe to a mediocre education.  Keep your dues coming, suckers!


Friday, June 26, 2015

ATR to UFT: get the DOE to place us, to deal with NYC class size crisis

An ATR writes to the UFT, explaining that ATR placement can deal with the class size crisis: 

    As always, I want to follow up on my phone call today.  Over the past three days I have been commended by parents and student alike.  Tuesday and Thursday, students have gone as far as telling me that I "saved their lives" this past month in American History and parents have asked why I will not be back next year.  
  What could I tell them?  That the city has targeted senior teachers and that if one gets turned to an ATR (much like the Walking Dead) we can never be whole.  Now the argument that there are ATRs that get appointed is true if that ATR has under 10 years in the system.  The rest of us must be content being shuffled around like so much baggage.
   Leonie Haimson keeps talking about class sizes.  I have emailed her on the simple remedy, us.  Why can't the union fight to put teachers like me back into the classroom?  After next year the war begins anew about us.  The answer is simple.  Eliminate the ATR classification and make ALL salaries transportable.  
  I await your answer on this and the other questions that I have asked about.

Here's the class size crisis as Leonie Haimson has stated:

With videos: Press Conference on school overcrowding and the need for an expanded capital plan

Yesterday, Class Size Matters hosted a press conference on the steps of City Hall about the need to address school overcrowding by expanding the capital plan and appoint a Commission to improve school planning and the efficiency of school siting.

Speakers included NYC Council Member Danny Dromm, Chair of the Education committee, David Greenfield, chair of the Land Use Committee, and Council Members Mark Levine, Inez Barron, and Stephen Levin, along with many parent leaders.

I introduced the press conference by releasing a letter from the Public Advocate to the Mayor and the Chancellor, co-signed by 22 Councilmembers and many parent leaders, urging them to double the seats in the capital plan and appoint a Commission to make recommendations on how school planning and siting could be improved.   

Then I pointed out that when the Mayor ran for office he promised that he would support a more ambitious capital plan that would provide the space necessary to eliminate overcrowding and allow for smaller classes.  He also pledged to reform the Blue Book formula so that it more accurately reflected overcrowding and incorporated the need for smaller classes.  Yet the opposite has happened; the city cut $5B for schools compared to the last ten year capital plan under Bloomberg, and $2B compared to the preliminary ten year plan released just a few months ago. 

This is despite the fact that about half a million students are enrolled in extremely overcrowded schools and the problem is getting worse.  NYC is the fastest growing large city in the country, according to recent Census data, and yet the city has no realistic proposal to address the exploding student population.   The current school construction capital plan will meet less than half the need, given DOE’s own enrollment projections and utilization figures.

Moreover, the mayor has proposed the creation of 160,000 market rate housing units and 200,000 affordable units, without any plan for where the additional students will attend school.  The Blue Book working group also came up with recommendations to improve the accuracy of the school overcrowding formula in December that have yet to be released.

The result of this dysfunctional lack of planning is that hundreds of schools have lost their cluster rooms; thousands of students are assigned to lunch as early as 10 a.m., and/or have no access to the gym. Many special needs students are forced to receive their services in hallways and/or closets rather than in dedicated spaces, and class sizes in the early grades have reached a 15-year high.
Then Council Member Danny Dromm talked about damaging impact of overcrowding at the school in Queens where he once taught, with rampant overcrowding and class sizes as high as 38: “The problem in my school we had no place to put the students. …One day they opened the maintenance closet, took out the rakes and shovels and turned it into a speech classroom, without windows, so small you could barely get through the door, it was unbelievable to see that happen.  This is happening in many schools throughout the city…   With the expansion of affordable housing, the situation is only going to become worse with the influx of new students.”
Council Member Stephen Levin spoke of the need for responsible planning with huge development occurring in downtown Brooklyn, with residential high rises springing up rapidly:  “What we’re seeing in downtown Brooklyn and in a lot of neighborhoods in NYC is that our schools will continue to be overtaxed.  There has not been appropriate planning.  We are always playing catch up, we’re building well after the impact has already been felt…  We need to recognize that when we’re seeing these housing starts, we need to be pro-active, we need to put the money up front, and ensure the schools are ready when the housing comes online and not the other way around.”
CM Mark Levine pointed out how the DOE's Blue Book formula wrongly identifies many of the schools in his area of Washington Heights and West Harlem as underutilized,  “where schools bear the scars of decades of overcrowding.  They have lost their computer rooms, their music rooms, have no gyms or cafeterias, because it’s all been reclaimed for classroom space.  They have trailers comically referred to temporary structures even though they’ve been in place for a decade or more. For years the DOE has accounted for capacity by claiming these schools are not overcrowded, but only because we’ve lost all the space needed for a truly enriching education …  There is virtually no construction planned in Northern Manhattan and they are going to leave in place a status quo that is unacceptable. We are here to say, we need to correct the wrongs of the previous era and build in upper Manhattan and give our kids the space they need.”
Then CM David Greenfield spoke as the chair of the Land Use Committee: “We approve all zoning changes; when you you’re submitting a development project, there has to be coordination with the DOE and the Mayor’s office to make sure that the resources are there for schools for kids.  You can squeeze another person on a bus or in a park, but squeezing an extra child in a classroom has a lifelong impact on many of these children, and it is not fair.  We need to think about development holistically; not just about housing, or quality jobs; it’s also about infrastructure, and #1 in infrastructure has to be school seats for our children. “
CM Inez Barron spoke as a former principal and teacher:  “I spent 18 years as teacher, and 18 years as an administrator.  One year I had 34 students, which was very challenging.  The capital plan is not adequate of allocation for construction of new school buildings.  In the Mayor’s plan for expanding housing in East NY, he hasn’t included even one new school.”
Fe Florimon, chair of the CB12 Youth and Education Committee in Washington Heights and a member of the Community Education Council in District 6:   “We don’t need 38 kids in a classroom.  A budget of $25B [the city’s education budget] should be sufficient to reduce class size; this needs to be a top priority but we’re continuing the same pattern.  As much as I love you and voted for you, I beg you, Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina, to pay close attention to this matter, we need small classes, it’s for our kids.” 
Eduardo Hernandez of CEC 8 in the Bronx spoke about how it has been thirty years since District 8 got a new school: “Finally we’re getting a new school, even if it's right near a highway. School construction has been neglected for many years; also co-locations which take away classrooms have exacerbated this problem.  Hopefully this mayor will take notice and finally do the right thing.”  
Mario Aguila VP of the CEC in District 14 described how the high schools were hugely overcrowded, with up to forty students in a classroom.

CSM press conference 6.18.15 Mario Aguila, VP, CEC 14 in Brooklyn from Class Size Matters on Vimeo.

Kristin Gorman reported that there had been a Kindergarten waiting list of 70 children at her zoned school in Queens.  The waiting list was finally brought down when the preK program was eliminated, but “this is only a band-aid.  Why is a Democratic mayor, who many of us voted for, removing funds from education? I’m concerned about my children’s future.”
Wendy Chapman, co-founder of the organization Build Schools Now, dedicated to expanding school seats in the rapidly growing neighborhood of Tribeca, discussed the fact that even when funding is allotted for a school, the DOE often seems incapable of finding a site:  “There has been a school for this neighborhood in the capital budget for over a year; we’ve identified 11 possible sites for the school but it’s still not sited.  It’s very personal for us, every building that goes up just means more pressure that’s coming.”
Zakiyah Ansari of AQE spoke about how the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was brought in part to address the need to reducing class size “Our children would learn better, our teachers will be able to teach better if only they had smaller classes.“

MC Sweeney, a parent at PS 196 in Queens, decried the fact that the DOE refuses to use real population data to properly plan for schools, and the result has been growing Kindergarten waiting lists, the loss of art rooms, and special needs students receiving their services in hallways and closets.  She said that parents are going to demand the doubling of seats in the capital plan to be voted on at the PEP meeting on June 23. 

Beth Eisgrau-Heller, a new parent at PS 8 in Brooklyn, also described the huge Kindergarten waiting list at her school, and how the capital plan needed to be expanded to prevent the disruption and divisiveness created by waiting lists and school overcrowding. (sorry no video!)

Here is a DNAinfo news article about our demands for a doubling of the seats in the capital plan .