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The Call Blog: Teachers Union Claims Almost 25% Of Classrooms Are Overcrowded

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Meet the new school, same as the old school. Another year does not bring change to thousands of classrooms around the five boroughs. Overcrowded classrooms have been the norm in this town for years. So long, I question whether those in power even have a desire to fix the problem.

The new school year is here, and the United Federation of Teachers says public school students are off to a cramped start. A UFT survey of union chapter leaders finds more than 230,000 students "spent part or all of their first few weeks of school in overcrowded classes." The report claims 6,313 classrooms are at overcapacity, up from 6,133 last year.

The fall term also means a new curriculum for many teachers and students. New York State is implementing the Common Core learning standards, and new textbooks, teaching guides, and worksheets are being used for the first time. Of course, this all comes as mayoral candidates try to win the support of teachers and parents who've been following Mayor Bloomberg's education vision for 12 years.

Have you noticed a significant number of overcrowded classrooms this year? If your school is implementing a new curriculum, is it going well? Which education policies of Mayor Bloomberg would you like to see the next mayor continue?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

My name is Lee and I am currently student teaching. I am shadowing a 4th grade class and the teachers are lost. We are collaborating everyday with the same end result, HOW ARE WE GOING TO PULL THIS OFF. The time-line to teach the core is unreasonable and they are setting us up to FAIL. A lost teacher in a crowded classroom is a disaster waiting to happen and in some cases disaster has already struck. The mixed curriculum levels of the students in an issue and the new core standards are calling for tools that we haven't been provided with. A large majority of the student teachers from St John's are planning to received their degrees and majoring in any thing but education in grad school. It's a mess and I'm now considering taking the LSAT. YES! Law school is looking like a walk in the park.


When I went to school a lifetime ago during the 60's and 70's we regularly had 33-35 students in the class. The majority of the people that I went to school with received a good education and most graduated and went on to be smart individuals. I think the problem is that we have taken the 3R's, science and social studies and physical education out of the schools.. Additionally parents don't discipline their kids nor do they want teachers to discipline them either, we are creating a future dumbed down out of control people. Parents also need to take a proactive approach to education and not just dump their kids off at the school. I have no idea what they are teaching but kids aren't learning anything.


I teacher 15-18 year olds and yet i have to remind them to pull their pants up, stop picking their nose, Stop cursing, stop fighting, stop leaving the room. Class size should be chosen by the school based on the population/needs.

The Difference between charter and public-Parent involvement. Charter schools are NOT a random sample. it takes a lot of work of the parents to get their kid in that school. Stop comparing public schools to charter schools, they have involved parents, not always true for public schools.

Alicia, gravesend

Its crazy how they blame the downfall in public schools on the large class sizes... Hm i definitely don't remember how many kids were in my class... I don't even remember if the teacher paid special attention to me... What i do remember is my family hovering over me every night until my homework was done correctly & all the extra teaching that came from home & everything my spoiled butt received when i got good grades ??... These parents now-a-days don't even care so why would the kids care? School is basically a free babysitter! Teachers can only do so much, the parents are responsible for everything after that. smh it's sad that i work with 4th graders who can't read and 3rd graders who can't subtract 2 from 5 because there are no "tens blocks" in the equation. And as for homework, it's a worksheet with a few questions, color this red color this blue circle one of the answers... It's a simple guessing game for the children, no real thought put into it nor does it present the parents with an opportunity to help re-teach at home.


Ditto Vanessa! My father paid for books; my mother taught me to read. Catholic schools have 40 each class.


I am the parent of a high school student. Nearly half of my kid's teachers just graduated from college this year. I wish these new teachers could have mentor teacher observing in their classroom and talk to them once a week or more, because they're so different than the interview that got them hired.

Amitorfor form Upper East Side

It shows you how bad it is when the teachers are buying their own supplies for class.. What kind of crap is that? Teachers do not make enough money to buy class supplies.. Maybe they should all refuse.


Everything Bloomberg has done should be reversed. Only his rich cronies have benefited from any of his policies.

East Village

I know a great many teachers who complain about the class sizes, but this has been going on since the mid 1970's, and even before. A good teacher knows how to engage, and inspire, a great teacher knows the difference between class size, and class distinction. If you love to teach it will prove itself, but how much better would it be for a class size of twenty? I think we need smaller classes, but we also need teachers that love to teach.

Michael in Woodside.

Materials are nowhere to be found. There is no clear answer as to when they will arrive. The month of September is over. The curriculum is all worksheets. I teach kindergarten and was required to give the children a 32 question, 6 page multiple choice test the first week of school. As a teacher I wanted to scream. As a mother I wanted to cry. This children were exhausted and traumatized. By the end I just fudged the scores because I refused to put them through that.

Additionally, The new special Ed law allows children with many classifications in a room. I have emotionally disturbed children who should be with only 11 other students. I have severely learning disabled children who need lots of extra time and attention. Plus the rest of the class who come from broken homes, poverty, and troubled lives.

I need to move. I will not put my own child through this.

Lisa, Brooklyn

Yes there's overcrowding! The overcrowding leads to a shortage of textbooks. None of my 100 students are allowed to take textbooks home. As a global teacher being evaluated at the end of the year, how can Students possibly be well prepared when they cannot reference any textbooks to the information they are receiving in class?

Bronx Highschool Teacher.

It's not just Mayor Bloomberg that has failed, all other mayors in the past have struggled with public education in our city. It seems like no one has had the right formula. Not enough emphasis is placed on the education of our public school students. A lot more resources are pumped into things that will generate more money and clearly education is not one of them.

Aka: Dj Ea-One

Overcrowding classes affect all aspects of teaching. Safety becomes a huge issue when the classes are overcrowded. Teacher quality is weakened when there are too many students in the classroom. It is much harder to make the curriculum engaging, rigorous and meaningful when there are excessive number of students in the room. It is also far more difficult to differentiate the curriculum to meet the students needs when the number of students in the building is overwhelming. Lastly, addressing the expectations of the common core will be next to impossible to do when there is not a cap on the number of students in the classroom and in the overall public school buildings. Is overcrowding a problem in the charter schools- probably not.

Claire- from the Upper East Side

I agree with Dorothy, teachers complain too much. Hire more full time permanent teachers aides for all students mainstream and special Ed. Put them in the classrooms two or more everyday. Overcrowding is not a problem for a real teacher who is not afraid of the work. Enough of these pampered Nancy's.

Stephanie from corona

I teach at a school where some classes have over 36 students. The kids are not able to move at all! Teachers get more and more frustrated! Parents are up in arms!

Rego Park

I wish that the next mayor would support school choice & charter school options for students. I have a child in a traditional public school and another child in a charter school. They are very different types of learners and need different types of schools. Without a charter school option we would be struggling to find a good fit for the one.


Class size is the biggest problem. My lab classes have 34 students- imagine trying to share 7 globes with 34 people. Many of those have special needs. Our kids have short attention spans and need lots of attention. It may be different in Other countries with a disciplined culture- that's not here. Even a new or "bad" teacher can effectively teach a class of 25.

- lee, gravesend

class size is out of control at my Brooklyn high school. Overcrowding and illlegal numbers of students with special needs in mainstream classes. My co teacher and I split these groups of 34 into 2 groups of 17. Thank goodness our principal allows this, it's the only possible way to manage all of their needs. Many of these students have moment to moment management issues and sever emotional issues.


Good Evening John,

Class size has been out of control for the last few years, especially at the elementary school level. I teach ESL and I have 32 (elementary) students every year. It's difficult to even organize the desks in the room, let alone reach every child. I don't get to do as much small group instruction as I could with a smaller class; paperwork and grading take forever because I have to multiply every task by 32. The bilingual and ESL classes in my school are always overcrowded, although the students are a needy demographic who could benefit from smaller class sizes.

This year some of my colleagues started the year with 33 or 34 students. When I told my principal I was going to file a class size grievance (I'm the school's UFT chapter leader), my principal took out enough students from each class to make the class size 32. Then she put those students into classes in another grade, calling them bridge classes. So there are teachers with both 3rd and 4th graders or both kindergarten and 1st graders in the same class. I think the DOE is partially to blame because it doesn't enforce the class size limits that it agreed upon when negotiating with the UFT. DOE has shown time again that although their slogan is Children First, their actions show the opposite. I also blame school principals who don't always make the most educationally sound budget decisions. My principal says she can't afford to hire another teacher, yet she pays expensive consultants to scold us for our students' test scores and she hires F-status teachers and an F-status assistant principal (F-status employees are retirees who come back to work part time.).

Washington Heights

We simply need more classrooms to accommodate the kids and teachers. The capital budget should prioritize our schools. We need to invest in our children for the future of this city and our success as a nation.

Melanie, Park Slope

I went to Cardozo High School and graduated in 2007. It was just as overcrowded then. I feel that students and parents are just using the overcrowdedness as an excuse for poor academics. The large class sizes are used as a scapegoat for the lack of parenting skills to teach your children how to learn. No matter if classes are 20 students or 50 students, it is up to the student to do the work and learn the material.

Little Neck

There are over 700,000 undocumented immigrants in New York City. Gee you think this has anything to do with school overcrowding?

Morris Park

Almost all our classes are over the limit, which is too high for quality learning already. We are a middle school, a rough time for most kids, and most of our classes are at 34 to 36 students. It is extremely crowded in many rooms and, of course, we have multiple schools in our building making gym and lunch ridiculous. As for materials that is another disaster. We have still not received all our materials despite being at the end of the first month. Bloomberg has managed to leave schools in a shambles and is not being held accountable for his massive mistakes. It is time to slash spending on outside consultants, useless professional development by sham companies and excessive useless testing. Teachers must reclaim their schools so students can be taught and allowed to succeed instead of wallowing in useless "accountability assessments" administered in deteriorating buildings while outside consultants and charter schools prosper at the public schools' expense. Despite Bloomberg's vicious attacks, teachers are working extremely hard for their students but have their hands tied by his Gestapo like policies. Bloomberg is an utter and complete failure as the "education mayor". The worst in the history of this city.



Oh boy! Where do I start? I teach a second grade Gifted/Talented that is capped at 32 students. I have 32 students. I feel bad for the kids. I am doing the best I can with what I have. My school is using the new curriculum, but...... Didn't have enough of the math books to begin with. Haven't even begun to use the literacy portion of core curriculum. We were told we are not beginning that until October 15. When with the deal we likely to look over the material summer would've been better. The programs weren't even published until later in the summer. I am a teacher for 26 years. I feel disarrayed, out of sorts, not sure exactly what they want from me and then you have the new evaluation system. That is a whole other issue. New York City school children suffer this year: overcrowding materials not ready for teachers to review. We are the give and go system.

Fanilow in Flushing

All of the materials to help implement the Common Core has NOT been delivered yet to many of the schools in the city. Kindergarten classes have more than 25 students in a class without an assistant teacher. Principals are out of compliance with the Special Ed classes and have teachers in position where they are not license to teach.


Hi John,

It would be so nice and pleasant for that matter if the transition could be done in a humane manor. I do doubt it. I myself would revamp the system. This current mayor will not extend a hand out to help. The problem with the overcrowding in the class rooms goes back at least until the present day for 12 years. Also word has it that there are many empty seats in the charter schools and since they share with the regular public schools it will always be a problem. They do share the same venue as the charter schools and the charter schools seems to have taken a front seat in every aspect. There doesn’t seem to be an even balance. That should be one of the priorities plus the curriculum for the teachers. To make this become a success then the parents/guardians must take an interest in the education of these children. They must also take an interest to make an effort to appear on open school week and if not then this is how it becomes a losing battle. If they don’t take an interest they the students will become a needless disruption for the whole year. So if everyone involved one way or another does their part we will definitely see a great improvement.

Thank you John,



Both of my middle schoolers' classes have 33 kids...way too many!! In the Contract for Excellent funding rules, money that is stated to be going toward class size reduction often does not reduce the number of kids in a classroom - principals are allowed to hire another teacher for that classroom, changing the ratio but not the size of the class. That is absurd trickery. Also, the DOE is encouraging overcrowding at many schools by co-locating charter schools that they state in their own proposals will push buildings over 100% capacity. CRAZY TIMES. I hope and believe that Mayor de Blasio will find a way to improve every regular public school, including making sure that there are enough school buildings and classrooms for non-charter seats and rooms with optimally-sized classes and rooms for special services to be well-delivered.

Anni - UWS

When Michael Bloomberg ran for office in 2002, he promised he would reduce class sizes in Kindergarten – 3rd grade in all schools to 20 or less; instead now we have the largest classes in these grades in 15 years.

In 2007, the DOE promised to the state to reduce class size in all grades in return for hundreds of millions of dollars in Contract for Excellence funds. Instead class size have increased every year in all grades -- since then.

Each year that the DOE’s parent survey has been given, smaller classes are the #1 priority of public school parents . This administration claims to be devoted to responding to parental choice; yet it is clear that Bloomberg and the people he has put in charge of the DOE has no real interest in giving public school parents their top choice for their kids.

86% of NYC principals say they are unable to provide a quality education because of overly large classes, and yet they say that when they try to reduce class size, DOE just sends them more students, undercutting their efforts.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters


Which education policies of Mayor Bloomberg would I like to see the next mayor continue? None of them.

Port Richmond, SI

Isn't this Bloomberg's plan? Close schools, cramp the classrooms, increase drop out rates? Filter out the weak?

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