Thursday, April 18, 2024
NYC education spending up despite school enrollment drop.

NYC education spending up despite school enrollment drop.

The Cost of New York City’s Public Schools

If you want to know why New York City shells out so much more per student on its public schools than any other big city in America, consider the latest enrollment and spending trends.

Per new Department of Education data, parents can’t flee city schools fast enough; the citywide PreK-to-Grade 12 student population is now at 867,156 — a stunning 14% plunge since 2019.

In The Bronx, as many as one of every five kids is gone.

Indeed, the citywide drop (136,480 students over the past four years) is more than the enrollments of the state’s five largest school districts outside of the Big Apple put together.

The Impact of Class-Size Law

Now, with so many fewer kids in the schools, you’d think you’d need fewer teachers. And less funding.

Sorry: That’s not how it works in New York.

Thanks to a new class-size law passed at the behest of the teachers union — which fears losing members (and membership dues) as enrollments drop — the city would have had to hire up to 17,000 new teachers to cover last year’s student population, per the city’s Independent Budget Office.

That could eventually cost the city up to $2 billion extra a year.

DOE officials say it’ll cost about $500 million to reduce class sizes in K-5 classes alone.

Rising Spending and Questionable Outcomes

Yet even before the law passed, spending had been rising steadily: As enrollments fell 14%, spending rose by 12%, or $4 billion.

A recent Citizens Budget Commission study pegged the figure at a jaw-dropping $38,000 per child.

And without producing better outcomes for kids: Less than half the students in grades 3-8 were deemed proficient on state tests last year.

Will smaller classes lead to greater learning? Studies suggest not, especially since schools may be forced to accept less-than-stellar teachers to cover all the new classes that are needed.

“If you really do a hard look at New York City schools, you see that some of our classes that have the highest number of students per teacher are doing the best academically, and the schools that have a really low number are doing fairly poorly academically,” says Maud Maron, co-president of Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education NYC.

The Union’s Influence

But never mind the kids; the smaller class size and more funding are a union’s dream.

On top of all the other benefits, the extra classes will help it fight its most feared competitor — charter schools (whose students regularly outperform those at city-run schools) — by letting it claim there’s no longer spare room in regular school buildings to share with them.

Just this month, the United Federation of Teachers was in court looking to block the co-location of two Success Academy charters at a Far Rockaway middle school and the Sheepshead Bay High School campus.

It claimed DOE’s facility-use analysis didn’t take into consideration the impact of the new class-size law.

The Future of New York City’s Schools

Yet classes at most city schools are already under the new caps, and post-pandemic enrollment drops are expected to continue or remain steady.

Without that law, the union would have had a tough time claiming a lack of space for charters as their buildings steadily empty of students.

Meanwhile, classrooms will continue to grow, spending will soar, learning will stagnate — and students will keep fleeing. It seems only a matter of time before those classrooms have no students at all to teach.


About Casper Wong

Casper Wong is an experienced blogger who specializes in education and career development. His blog posts are a valuable resource for individuals seeking guidance on how to succeed in their academic and professional pursuits. With a wealth of knowledge and insights, Casper empowers his readers to reach their full potential and achieve their career goals. Follow him to discover the keys to lifelong learning and career success.

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