Queens schools are failing in at least one subject– classroom sizes.
Hillcrest High School in Jamaica ranked highest in the number of oversized classrooms, 400, and Bayside’s Benjamin Cardozo High School follows with 385, according to a recent United Federation of Teachers (UFT) survey.
More than 230,000 students citywide spent some of the first few weeks back to school in crowded classes, the study found. About 6,313 classes were overcrowded, up almost 200 from last year, but more than 1,000 of those classes were found in Queens high schools alone.
Overcrowding is a problem throughout the entire city school system, but “Queens high schools have been hit the worst,” the UFT said.
Class sizes around the city in grades 1 through 3 have now reached a 14-year high. Although they have not reached the classroom size limit of 32 seats, first and second grade has grown to an average of 24 seats per class, with 25 in third grade.
“It is time to take this issue seriously,” said Michael Mulgrew, UFT president. “All our students, especially our youngest children, desperately need smaller class sizes.”
Recently Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that under his administration New York City schools had improved outstandingly on the academic side.
During his time in office many schools were shuttered, but more than new 650 schools were created. Bloomberg said 22 of the top 25 schools in the state are from New York City, and none were on that list before his administration.
“After 12 years reforming our once-broken school system, it’s clear that our hard work has paid huge dividends for our students,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.
In fact, three Queens elementary schools, P.S. 46 in Oakland Gardens, P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill and P.S. 221 in Little Neck, Richmond Hillwere named to the prestigious national Blue Ribbon award for excellence in education on September 24.
Despite the academic improvements, the UFT said children shouldn’t have to try to learn in overcrowded classrooms.
“Twelve years of Michael Bloomberg, and hundreds of thousands of students start the school year in oversize classes,” Mulgrew said. “There is no excuse for letting students stay in an oversize class.”