The teachers union is raising the alarm about overcrowding in city classrooms, saying more than 6,200 of them have far too many students. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
At Forest Hills High School, classrooms are bursting with too many students. Teachers report 244 classes are over the limit, meaning each has more than 34 students.
"There's, like, no seats," said one student. "We have to borrow seats from, like, other students, from other classes but sometimes other classes don't have seats so we have to stand up and that's unfair."
The teachers union's annual survey of classroom overcrowding estimates that nearly a quarter of city students are in classes that are too big. But the big change is that the number of special education classes over the legal limit has more than doubled.
Last year, teachers reported 118 overcrowded special education classes. This year, they reported 270.
The DOE overhauled special education this year, requiring every school to enroll special needs students and move more of them into mainstream classes.
"What the principals are telling us is that they have not been given the budget to open the proper number of classes and at the same time, they have been mandated by the Department of Ed to service every child according to their individual needs that are sent into their building," said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. "That's an untenable situation that's not going to work."
The union held the press conference outside of the Museum School, a small high school in Chelsea with 14 classes over the limits. Students say the freshman gym class may be the worst.
"Everybody’s running wild," said one student. "When I say we have to play tag, people are tripping and falling all over the place. People are literally getting hurt."
They say there are about 70 students in the class and although the school added a second teacher, there isn't enough space to move around safely.
"Someone literally pushed me to the ground and I got this big bump on my arm," said one student. "There's, like, literally too many people in the class."
The DOE's own survey finds that every year, parents report their number one priority would be lowering class size. But the mayor and chancellor often say what's more important than class size is the quality of the teachers. The department says the number of classes over the limits will go down as the school year moves forward.