2007-03-02 / Community

Senator Smith Calls For Smaller Class Sizes

State Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith has called upon Mayor Michael Bloomberg and fellow legislators to join him in backing Governor Eliot Spitzer's plan for a dedicated funding stream for smaller class sizes, which the Queens lawmaker said will produce immediate results in the classroom.

"Parents, teachers and administrators alike have made it quite clear that they can no longer tolerate the harmful effect of overcrowded classrooms and the impact it has on students," Senator Smith said. "Creating better conditions for our children to learn is our top priority, and reducing class sizes is a major step in the right direction."

Smith also urged Mayor Bloomberg and other city officials "to take this opportunity to make the right choice for New York schoolchildren by pledging to use the extra aid for reduced class sizes."

The senator said he supports Governor Spitzer's proposed "Contracts for Excellence" in his 2007-08 Executive Budget. The plan obligates schools to use a large share of proposed state aid increases for programs like reduced class sizes that have proven to raise student achievement.

Under the governor's plan, schools that receive a minimum aid increase of either $15 million or 10 percent next year must direct the majority of their funding boost to one or more of the following purposes: reduced class sizes, student time on task, teacher quality initiatives, school restructuring or full dull pre-kindergarten.

Though funding increases are tied to these specific strategies for school improvement, Senator Smith said the plan's restrictions are balanced by its emphasis on local choice.

"This plan strikes the right balance between accountability and local choice," Senator Smith said. "Aid increases must go toward initiatives that promise results, yet school officials are given leeway to select the right blend of improvement measures appropriate to their district's unique needs. For New York City schools, that need is unmistakably clear, and I hope Mayor Bloomberg has gotten the message: high-capacity classes mean low-capacity learning."

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