After weeks of hemming and hawing, Gov. Kathy Hochul last week signed the odious class-size bill. It’s a gift to teachers-union boss Michael Mulgrew, at the kids’ expense.
Capping class size to 20 students in K-3, 23 in 4th through 8th grade and 25 in high school may sound like a grand idea — but if so, why only mandate it for New York City’s public-school system?
In fact, all the law really does is force the city Department of Education to devote more of its limited resources to hiring and paying teachers, at the expense of other needs.
Crucially, that means more kids will wind up in classes taught by weaker teachers — ones who wouldn’t have got hired without the mandate. And since union rules give veteran, experienced teachers great power to decide what school they work at, the shift will inevitably see the “toughest” schools wind up with more of the newbies.
In other words, the gap between the city’s best and worst public schools will grow.
Hochul herself admits that this is an unfunded mandate — that is, it orders the DOE to spend more on teachers without giving it extra cash to pay them. The DOE says it’ll cost about $500 million a year to reduce class sizes in K-5 alone, and about $1 billion for all city classrooms
Hochul confessed last month to WNYC’s Brian Lehrer that finding a “funding source” (the main reason Mayor Eric Adams cited for opposing the bill) was still under consideration. But the only change she announced as she signed it was a plan to delay the mandate’s start until next September and stretch out to 2028 the time before it fully kicks in.
She hasn’t even pledged to fight the Legislature for the funds to pay for it. (Not that she’s so far fought it for anything except that billion-dollar giveaway to the Buffalo Bill’s owners.)
And the class-size bill’s lead sponsor, state Sen. John Liu (D-Queens), looks dead-set against giving the city any more revenue to carry out the mandate, pointedly tweeting that that the city is already getting “$1.6 billion more [in] state funding annually” to reduce class sizes.
This, when city class sizes are already shrinking because DOE enrollment has fallen more than 10% these last two years as parents vote with their feet over the wrong direction city schools are taking.
No, the only winner here is Mulgrew’s United Federation of Teachers, whose membership rolls will now continue to grow even if parental flight continues, and whose current members will find their jobs grow easier at the expense of the city’s neediest kids — who’ve just suffered the worst learning-loss during the UFT-backed school closures during COVID.
Actually, Hochul’s a winner, too, since the wealthy UFT will now pull out all of the stops to help her defeat GOP rival Rep. Lee Zeldin in November.
And all she had to do was (again) betray Adams, after also failing to get him a four-year extension of mayoral control: The two-year one the Legislature insisted on means he’ll have to fight again for the power soon before he runs for re-election — giving the UFT and its pawns in Albany another chance to blackmail him for fresh concessions.
The short-extension law also reduced the mayor’s power in the Panel for Educational Policy, further undermining his control of the DOE. Hochul, in short, is a willing accomplice in multiple serious defeats of City Hall’s education agenda — another reason Adams should withdraw his endorsement, on top of her refusal to lift a finger to fix the no-bail laws.
Just like her disgraced predecessor Andrew Cuomo, Hochul’s only priority is her own needs — the mayor, and the children, be damned.