New York City Department of Education Hearing on Contracts for Excellence
Good evening. I am testifying on behalf of Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan who chairs the Assembly Education Committee and whose Assembly district is located here in Queens. In addition to presenting testimony earlier this week in the Bronx, Assemblywoman Nolan wanted to testify in Queens where the problem of overcrowded and underperforming schools is very serious. In some of our schools, students are learning in makeshift annexes separate from the main school building. Our borough also has the fastest growing immigrant population of all five boroughs and the largest number of students who need help with their English speaking skills. The legislation and education funds approved this year for New York City specifically targets these students for additional aid, but the Department's SUBMISSION fails to specify how the new money will be used to help them AND FAILS TO SUFFICIENTLY ADDRESS THE CLASS SIZE ISSUE. This lack of specifics IS TROUBLING.
This year, the Legislature approved a record setting amount of $700 million to improve New York City schools, and required the Department of Education to use a significant part of this money to reduce class sizes in all grades. The Department was directed to develop a five-year plan that was intended to inform the Legislature, parents and others how this goal would be achieved. Unfortunately, the PROPOSAL presented fails to provide any particulars regarding when or where new class space and new teachers will be added. There are no construction plans, timetables, or identification of which schools will receive more classrooms and teachers.
The Department's SUBMISSION needs to better comply with the intent of the legislation and funding. I anticipate that the New York State Education Department will assist the New York City Department of Education in this effort to produce a plan that will meet its statutory mandate.
Thanks again to Chancellor Klein and the Mayor, and their whole team including Terence Tolbert and Wini Eisan, for making these hearings possible in all five boroughs. In addition I am grateful for all the parents who are participating in this process.