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What's happening with class size?

By Dale Mezzacappa on Sep 20, 2013 05:49 PM

Two weeks into a school year unlike any other, with severe cutbacks in teachers and other personnel in schools, the District is about to start its process of "leveling," or reassigning teachers based on where the students are.

According to District officials, fears of huge class sizes have not materialized.

They say that they have budgeted enough money to deploy 50 additional teachers around the District to reduce class size and eliminate split grades. So far, they say, they have deployed 26 of those -- meaning that they still have money set aside to recall or hire an additional 24.

Spokesman Fernando Gallard said that he had no information on where the 26 teachers were assigned.

He also said the District would not release information on class size until after the leveling is completed. He said that the goal is to get all classes below the limits in the recently expired teachers' contract -- 30 in grades K-3 and 33 in grades 4-12.

The District started the year with about 100 split classes, in which students from different grades are taught together in order to save money on teachers. But there is as yet no information on how many of these remain.

While there have been anecdotal stories of classrooms lacking enough desks, chairs and materials, the District has yet to provide an general accounting of conditions in the schools, although Gallard said that officials are tracking them.

Is there a split grade or an oversized classroom in your school? Let us know the details (school, class size) by commenting on this story or emailing notebook@thenotebook.org.

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Comments (96)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 6:43 pm
Lies! I each 5 classes a day, each one has over 36 students in classrooms built to hold 25.
Submitted by Paul Socolar on September 20, 2013 7:00 pm

Can you tell us the school? Or email the info to notebook@thenotebook.org?

 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:47 pm
These numbers are the same every year...Leveling will eliminate the overcrowding/split class (we hope!). But what about the reality of operating a building without a counselor? What about at half the support staff of last year, and last year was 25% less than the years before. What about a nurse for 1 day a week? What about a psychologist 1 day a week and a skyrocketing population of children with disabilities that have yet to be identified? What about a total lack of Sp. ed. teachers to educate the already identified children? What about a support to teach all children how to read? Dare I even say a reading specialist? That title sounds so expensive! HA! How about our children who are smart, we do have them....Any support for them? HA! NO. 440 can't even spell MG...Are your food services workers over worked and underpaid? Got news for you, that reflects on our kids! Change the name of the title, School Police Officer to School Climate Support, stick one of them in every building, at the front door, no matter the size...Your secretary overworked? Your building engineer hide? Hows your K-1st grade teachers doing without an aide? 440 is conditioning us to expect this as the norm. They will toss a few thousand dollars in the cofers next month and it will look as if they are saviors. MORALE SUCKS!!! EVERY SCHOOL NO MATTER THE SIZE, NEEDS TO HAVE A COUNSELOR, A NURSE, A FULLY STAFFED SUPPORT MECHANISM INCLUDING FOOD SERVICES, NOON TIME AIDES, SCHOOL CLIMATE OFFICERS, A SECRETARY WITH AN ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT. MANAGEABLE STUDENT:TEACHER RATIOS, A BUILDING ENGINEER WITH ADEQUATE CLEANING STAFF, SUPPLIES AND FURNITURE. LITERACY AND MATH SUPPORTS, PROGRAMS TO SUPPORT THOSE TEACHERS, A PRINCIPAL AND AN ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT FOR ALL THE BS PAPERWORK, A FULLY STAFFED SP. ED. DEPT. TO SERVICE OUR AT RISK CHILDREN AS WELL AS THE MG. ALL TEACHERS MUST HAVE THEIR ENTITLED PREPS AND LUNCH EVERY DAY, THEY DESERVE SUFFICIENT PAY FOR EXTRA CURRICULAR TIME SPENT FOR CHILDREN. THEY SHOULD NOT NEED TO RUSH OUT OF SCHOOL AT 3:15 TO GO TO HOME DEPT FOR THE 2ND SHIFT. DARE I EVEN DEMAND ATHLETICS AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS? SDP EMPLOYEES STAND UP!!! WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING NOW!!! DON'T LET THE CURRENT BE THE NORM!! IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR US OR THE KIDS...WE ALL HERE "ITS ABOUT THE KIDS" THIS IS TRUE. BUT WHAT FIELD OF WORK ARE THINGS LIKE THIS ACCEPTED?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:01 pm
Yup. And know what I heard 8 days in? "You don't look happy to be in the classroom." Uhh....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 5:40 pm
Our principal was told that we would not be receiving additional teachers. As it stands, we have at least 33 students in every classroom.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 9:04 pm
SAY IT!!!! CAN WE MENTION SCHOOL OPERATIONS!!! NOW WE ARE IN CHARGE OF ORDERING SUPPLIES AND MATERIALS!! I'M LEARNING THE ADVANTAGE SYSTEM AND I'M A CERTIFIED TEACHER...I'M GOING TO COUGH UP THE 180.00 COST OF NEW JERSEY CERTIFICATION AND LEAVE THIS DISTRICT BECAUSE WE'RE NOT RESPECTED, CARED ABOUT, HONORED, AND TREATED IN ANY HUMANE WAY. THIS EXPERIENCE HAS ALLOWED ME TO REEVALUATE MY THINKING AND PUT THESE CONCERNS IN GODS HANDS!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 23, 2013 9:30 am
Everything you said is correct but the BIGGER ISSUE is that this starvation mode is by design and being orchestrated by Nutter, Hite and The SRC .They're doing Corbett's bidding for him. They know exactly what they're doing and hope to see failure in all areas so they can then blame the Public Schools. That will make the charter lie movement look like a savior for the kids. This is big city corruption, pure and simple. It's gone on forever, usually in a more clandestine way, but still same old, same old. It's especially unattractive because the kids are paying the price but what else is new ?? In the Spring, the blame will be on YOU, me and all educators who suck at their job. Closing more " failing" schools will then be the answer to the problem and its all done "for the kids." If the PFT will exist as a REAL union and not some group of suck ups to the corporate types, Act 46 will need to be challenged in a huge way through a strike. That would expose all of this and even Obama would have to pretend to care enough to get involved. They can't fire 10,000 teachers but if they did then........................well, that would be a mistake of the first order.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 5:47 pm
This really is crazy because at my school, we also have at least 33 students, if not more in each class. And, by the way, that's too many! I've never been more exhausted or felt more defeated at the end of the day than I feel this year. No one benefits with 33 middle school students in a classroom. It feels incredibly overwhelming. It's a constant battle to get 33 students, ten of whom have very few social skills, on the same page at the same time. These are not 33 students whose parents have instilled values such as be quiet when someone else is talking, be polite to adults, education matters, etc. Most of these students are unable to resist the negative influence of the ten or so students in the class who are absolutely miserable to teach. In prisons, there is a policy not to mix low level offenders with high level offenders, as the high level offenders always prevail. Yet, in classrooms, we do not employ this strategy. Thus, the 26 okay students sit with eight miserable ones, and by the end of the period, you have at least 31 kids who are off track. Teaching in Philadelphia this year is the absolute worst experience of my life. I 've been working for twenty years, and for the first time, I am struggling just to go into work. No one at my school is happy. Every teacher seems miserable. I have not heard a single teacher express anything other than complete misery this year. Teachers who used to love teaching are looking for other jobs, and the overall feeling in the air is absolutely miserable. I cannot express enough how unbelievable this year has been so far. Our classrooms are stuffed. It's an absolutely miserable situation. No one other than a teacher in this district could possibly understand. If they did, it wouldn't be like this. It's inhumane.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 8:14 am
As a former Philadelphia public school teacher, I can empathize with your situation, and others who have shared similar stories. As I read yours I couldn't help but wonder where collective agency fits in all of this. If the conditions of teaching are that deplorable, and I know that in many cases they are, is a teacher walk-out a possibility? I'm just envisioning students, teachers, school leaders, and parents acting as a united front to say enough is enough. I realize my idea may sound a bit radical, but does such an idea ever come up in conversations amongst your colleagues? If so, where does the conversation lead and if not, why do you think this is?
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 23, 2013 11:19 am
It's primarily because we're too educated to behave like Teamsters--we're all dat !! So the corporations laugh at us as boobs who can't defend ourselves, like punks, wusses, cowards, low down yellow dogs who don't deserve their respect. They need to feel........................well, you already know down deep what they need to feel. By the way, Nutter and Pedro are the worst of the worst because they're shafting their own people for profit. Corbett is a scoundrel of course as is Hite but they likely don't even know the people they're screwing over.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 1:52 pm
The conversation leads to a weak union, a co-opted media, a co-opted SRC, and a mayor with ambition beyond philadelphia. A relatively small band of activists has been beating this tune non-stop for over a year. The general public is slowly coming on-board. The current deplorable state of public education in Phillyn notwithstanding heroic work by teachers and principals, should be a matter of concern for all in this city. You ideas may be criticized as radical by corporate reformers, but a mass response is the only way forward.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 7:33 pm
There are teachers at fels with over fifty students rostered. Each department has at least one teacher with over thirty-five students, a social studies teacher has a class over forty two and a math teacher has a class over fifty!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 10:42 pm
...but how many have shown up and sitting in classrooms?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 7:58 pm
I teach at a high school. Rostered with 46---and 43 show up! These are not fabricated stories!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 8:25 pm
Teachers at Rhawnhurst Elementary have 41 students in the first grade and 37 in the second grade. It has been like that for years. Call the school. Parents and teachers are upset.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on September 20, 2013 8:52 pm
In my experience, classrooms lacking enough desks can have as much to do with the building engineer or custodians not executing a work order as it has to do with a lack of desks. There should be no lack of student desks in the District with all the schools that just closed. EGS
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 10:49 pm
There is not enough room in the classroom to fit all the desks needed.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 10:58 pm
You are so right. I need bookshelves & I came from a closing school where I saw dozens of bookcases & classroom furniture shipped for "storage". Just a prime example of SDP inefficiency.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on September 21, 2013 8:52 am
My experience is that work orders end up thrown in the circular filing receptacles. The SDP simply does not care about the conditions of its desks, cabinets and other classroom equipment. In my room I have 24 desks. You can count on students breaking 2 or 3 a year and then maybe I can scare up a replacement. The desks are pretty beat and no suburban schoool would tolerate their students sitting on this junk. But the rest of the equipment is appalling. My wooden desk chair has a stamp on it indicating it was made in Philadelphia in 1954. There are two dented metal cabinets made in the 1960s at the latest one of which does not close. The filing cabinets is missing two handles and only two drawers open. Because the district never cared about its teachers or students equipment. It never even had an inventory of this junk in its classrooms. Last year the teachers had to list what was in the room and its condition. I listed my room furnishings condition as scrap that would simply embarrass any organization except the SDP. We teach in filth and squalor and 440 does not care. In the last 50 years one would think that they could have procured a few nice pieces of equipment for a building in the district other than 440?
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on September 21, 2013 9:12 am
The cleaning staff at our building was cut in 1/2. They are also being asked to do much more with less. Regarding desks - there are never enough that are in half decent condition. I have a mix match of desks - all of which I cleaned / scrubbed in August. I brought in some extra chairs. This is nothing new. In 2001 at Northeast HS, I was given 6 extra desks because classes were far over contractual limit until leveling. They were desks from a suburban "donation" that had been kept in a barn. Yes, they still smelled like a barn. Yes, I had to bring in a bucket and scrub the desks. This is how teachers in Philly are treated. Some things never change... (I have noticed at new schools like Kensington CAPA and Fels High School that the teachers have very nice chairs, students have great desks / chairs / tables, etc. So it is an apartheid system. New schools/ buildings live in the 21st century - the rest of us are in the 19th.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 12:57 pm
Education Grad . Did you ever think that it is not the building engineer or custodians fault that you don't have enough student desks? A lot of class room don't have enough of what they need and it is not the building engineer or custodians fault.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on September 21, 2013 4:35 pm
Anonymous, I wasn't bashing custodians or building engineers. I was merely speaking from experience. My experience may not be your experience, but it's still my experience. I now teach for the District and I put in a work order for more desks but it hasn't been filled and I haven't had any response. I'm almost positive that there are extra desks in the building, they just need to be moved. If there aren't enough desks in the building, then is it too much to ask that the BE tell me there aren't enough desks? Or if there are desks, is it too much to ask that he say, "I got your work order, but I'm busy." Just give me some follow up instead of leaving me hanging, that's all. Which reminds me, I need to follow up with the BE about my work order for more desks and a couple of other work orders... EGS (Educator of Great Students)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 5:08 pm
It's not the BE job to get desks, phones, tables, etc. if everyone knew what the requirements were of one another's jobs the buildings would run more efficiently. I order to get more desks you need to talk to your principal.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 9:21 pm
I must've been one of the few recalled. I declined the offer to teach at Huey middle school in less than 5 minutes because I found another job outside of the district.
Submitted by A Teacher (not verified) on September 20, 2013 10:15 pm
Were you upset that you missed the opportunity to be that close to home?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:17 pm
This was my second layoff in the district and I actively searched outside of the district because I do not live in Philadelphia. I LOVED where I taught in the city, which was an amazing high school, and I miss all of my former students, but I realized that as hard as it was, it was time to continue my career elsewhere. Because I taught in such austere conditions in Philadelphia, it's incredible to teach in a building with adequate security, clear discipline, paper, multiple photocopiers, technology in each classroom, and supplies that I do not need to purchase on my own. It's pathetic what the children of Philadelphia are missing that students just on the other side of the river receive regularly and take for granted.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 5:16 pm
Good for you. Escape the cesspool.
Submitted by A Teacher (not verified) on September 21, 2013 7:22 pm
That is wonderful to hear. It is a shame that we get excited about supplies, but that is the reality!
Submitted by Stewart (not verified) on September 21, 2013 10:37 am
I was tapped for a potential recall two days after school started, but nothing has happened yet (it's a full site selection school, so once HR sent my resume to the principal it was out of their hands.) So I'm theoretically in the process of recall but still not back in a classroom, either. The assignment is also in an unusual area that few people are certified in, so it may not be a good indicator of overall recall rates.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:25 pm
I originally taught at a high school and was then placed in a middle school. I don't know what is going on with the recalls. My former principal knew I had found a job elsewhere, so there wasn't much of an attempt to get me back to my original position.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 10:16 pm
Teachers at MLK HIGH have over 40 students in class.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 3:59 am
Edison Hs has over 40 students in classes.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 6:31 am
i teach 5 classes at a public high school. 2 of them have 42 students (who do show up) 1 has 37, 1 at 33 and the other at 31
Submitted by LS Teach (not verified) on September 21, 2013 9:56 am
I teach an 8th grade math class and though I have only have 31 on roll, two students show up daily that are not in Schoolnet or on my roll sheet. I have brought this to the attention of the principal, but nothing has been done. Do you think this a way to "juke the stats" so that class sizes remain within contractual limits? I understand that 33 is the limit so I should be happy that my class is within the contract - but teaching a class of 33 at risk 8th graders in a neighborhood school is not optimal for learning.
Submitted by Students, not Budgets First! (not verified) on September 21, 2013 10:56 am
I am a teacher and school leadership team member at a neighborhood high school in South Philadelphia. The SDP's is telling outright lies! 20% of the classes in our building are over-sized. The largest of which started last week with 70+ students, although that one is down to 41 as of Friday. We have teachers with more than three preps, and one that is even teaching 6 classes everyday with only a 30 minute lunch break. We have Noontime Aids doing the work of former SSA's. There has been no compensation for any of the many duties and responsibilities that teachers have beyond the classroom. If it wasn't for dedicated and kindhearted teachers pulling together to go above and beyond for the students, we would have never made it through these first few weeks! The greatest tragedy is that many students are in still dealing with "roster issues": they are in classes they do not need, can't get in classes they need to graduate, etc... Imagine how disheartening it would be for a student to be told: "school has started and we want you to work hard and do your best, but... your roster is likely to change during the first six weeks of school. You may end up with different teachers and classes." That is who is suffering the most from the underfunding of schools, the students!
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on September 21, 2013 11:38 am
This is why they would not let Randi Weingarten in the school she wanted to visit. The SDP does not want outsiders in the buildings to see how many students are actually in oversize classes. They have NO credibility on these issues until they allow reporters and community groups inside the schools to see for themselves. If they are being honest, they have nothing to fear! The standard line about "disruption" is just nonsense. They allow all kinds of people in schools when it suits their purposes.
Submitted by Lisa Haver (not verified) on September 21, 2013 1:23 pm
Why is Hite not held responsible for any of this? There is an SRC meeting Monday at 5:30 PM. Even though it is too late to sign up to speak, teachers and parents should come and make these conditions public. Hite and the SRC are responsible. They need to answer to the students and parents of this city for these deplorable conditions. They should also be telling us: How much has been put back into the budget as a result of calling back lower paid workers? How much as a result of suspending step increases? How did they "find" $16 million in the SD budget just weeks after passing a "Doomsday Budget"? How the SD can afford the $15 million for a new cyber charter. What is the size of the deficit now? How much has the SD spent for moving, transportation and other costs of closing almost 30 schools?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on September 21, 2013 4:08 pm
Lisa, I've said this many times and I'll say it again: PARENTS NEED TO JOIN TOGETHER AND FILE A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE COMMONWEALTH AND/OR THE DISTRICT. If there were a class action lawsuit, a few things could happen. If it were versus the District, then Hite and the SRC might have more incentive to play hardball with the Legislature and Governor for adequate funding. If it were versus the Commonwealth, who knows what might happen. If the lawsuit concerned special education or other civil rights issues, then the issue could go before federal courts. Federal courts may be more favorable than courts in the Commonwealth. My gut feeling is that there's good precedent for a special ed-related lawsuit to bring additional funding to the District, especially given that the District educates a disproportionate amount of students with special needs in the city, especially students who have low incidence disabilities and more severe disabilities. More adequate funding for special could potentially help the District avoid some of the lawsuits and compensatory education money it pays, and cutting down on these special ed-related litigation costs could free up more money to spend elsewhere. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 12:40 am
You're right. Chester-Upland School District did this and the state back down and funded them last yet. Sitting waiting for something to happen, it won't. The PFT leaders dropped the ball on this and many other issues too. The SDP will not do anything until they are legally obligated. If the PFT officials, had any sense and energy about them at least two years ago they would have had a grassroots effort in place and this BS wouldn't have happened. Chicago teacher's union did this and eventually won. This passive stuff the PFT does needs to STOP. There is so much stuff going on now since the union officers lost the little grip they had, ultimately I can see soon that grip is totally lost and the blame goes to the PFT leaders. Yes, members need to do their part but leaders need to lead and they (PFT executives) definitely did not and still do not. So this is what we are left with. We already lost seniority. They are hiring new hires while many are on layoff currently. Blatantly breaking the CBA and state statute and the District could careless. Most people know you deal with issues as they arise not sit on your butt and let it pass and then bigger and bigger issues occur and everything get worse. You nip things in the bud as soon as it happened. Didn't the PFT learn this way back or do they forget since most have sat at union headquarters for decades? Honestly, I like to see them back in the class and that tune might change. It's all so disgusting! Jordan ,Kirsch, and Weingarten all enablers of the Philly District.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 2:35 pm
And Jerry Jordan comes up with progress but not really. Quit wasting time, let the SRC impose the terms then we can finally take this s*** to court and fight and win. What kind of good agreement is going to come out of this????????? If we take a 1 year pay freeze then thats 3 years with no raise. Sorry but gas, food, utilities have all gone up, I have a family to provide for. Quit the shenanigans and get on with it and challenge the ACT 46 law.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 3:28 pm
I have a Geometry class of 42. One of many over the 33 limit at FLC
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 5:08 pm
I have former students at FLC, who indicated that they have at least 45 in one of their classes. As such, students were sitting on the teacher's desk and window sill. Nice work, Philadelphia. That's how you treat your special admit students? It was one thing to dump all over us lowly neighborhood schools. This city is going down the drain.
Submitted by Lady L (not verified) on September 21, 2013 3:28 pm
Anytime I see "According to district officials..." I know there are going to be lies printed. I appreciate the heads-up.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:33 pm
Bodine has oversized classes and cut two language teachers. The school for "International Affairs" now only offers one world language for two years. The students are suppose to have 4 years. My child has classes with 37 - 38 students including a computer class. (No, not enough computers). Does the SRC realize this is child abuse?
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:11 pm
Yeah but I bet the brand new Technology Center has lost of new #2 pencils. The district has been and always been interested in the appearance of education not real education. As long as the press releases sound good all is right with the world.
Submitted by Annon (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:18 pm
Yes - Gallard is lying. This seems to be his area of expertise. He is sitting in a pretty office with air conditioning, plenty of support staff and equipment. Then, he goes home to the suburbs so his children go to fully resourced schools with fully certified teachers. Guess this comes with making six figures plus in an underfunded school district.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:20 pm
Forrest has oversized first grade classes. I believe one first grade class has 38.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 11:20 pm
In some buildings, a first grade class with #s that high = A Split. Why are some principals choosing to use splits while others are choosing to load up classes? I'm not coming down on either side- just wondering if the District has a policy that principals are supposed to follow.
Submitted by PFTeacher (not verified) on September 21, 2013 5:24 pm
Real reporting = not just quoting one source, especially when that souce has a vested interest in presenting a situation as acceptable. C'mon Notebook, that's journalism 101.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 5:00 pm
No doubt, this is ridiculous. The Notebook needs to get out and do some actual investigative journalism. Visit a school and see what it's really like. That's what we need, someone to share with the public what it actually looks like inside a classroom. Unfortunately, that article would probably end up being used to discuss why teachers are awful. As everyone knows, we should all be excellent at teaching 33 at-risk students in deplorable conditions. After all, Dr. Hite, Nutter and Corbett would be if they were in our shoes. Frankly, most of the general public would be, too. Teachers in Philadelphia are just horrible. We can't teach and we are greedy. Shame on us for creating all these problems. We should have known better.
Submitted by Ray (not verified) on September 21, 2013 10:12 pm
My school's enrollment has been climbing and it doesn't look as if we will get another teacher anytime soon. However, our situation isn't as dire as a lot of other schools as far as overcrowding goes, so we're lucky. Make sure you are documenting everything. Also, contact reporters. Kristen Graham, Daniel Denvir and Holly Otterbean have twitter and answer e-mails. This situation needs to become embarrassing for the school district.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 11:41 pm
I teach at a magnet high school. My largest class has 38 students and they ALL come to school. 2 of my other classes have 35 and 36 students. The other two are at legal limit of 33. Considering that my home room also has 37 students....212 students per day, every day. Can I manage? Yes. Would I be a better teacher with 33 or fewer students in each class. Yes. Mr. Hite seems big on pointing out that there is no evidence that advanced degrees help student outcomes. However, there is ample evidence that SMALL CLASS SIZES do help student outcomes. If studies are what drive educational decisions, this should be an easy one. Small class sizes help students learn, help teachers teach, and make everyone calmer and happier.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 9:30 am
We have a first grade class with 37 on roll, and 35 show up daily.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 11:38 am
poor little babies...they think that's normal, they think that's swell. What are we like?
Submitted by concerned_parent (not verified) on September 22, 2013 1:11 pm
Can parents sue the School District for having their child/ren in oversized classrooms?
Submitted by Helen Gym on September 22, 2013 5:13 pm

Parents should start by filing formal legal complaints. No point in suing if people can't get a start by putting the complaint in writing. Download the complaint and file here: http://parentsunitedphila.com/file-a-complaint/

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 10:36 pm
The only reason there is a class size cap is because if the PFT. It is a condition in the teachers contract. If the SRC and Mr. Hite get there way there will be no class cap.
Submitted by K Reber (not verified) on September 22, 2013 4:41 pm
Could have written exactly the same thing as many posters above. The over-sized classes are a reality and they impact our students immeasurably! They are also taxing our teachers' capacity to serve our students best! Teachers and bare-bones school school staffs are acting as buffers for our students, attempting to assuage the pain of these cuts. Teacher/staff energy is not a bottomless pit and this situation is unsustainable. I teach at a small magnet school and all of my classes were over 33 when we started. 2 sections have been leveled to 33 but I also teach 3 sections of 11th grade English that are all over 33 (35-39 students per class). There is no conceivable way to level those classes without our school receiving additional staff! Many other classes are also over-capacity throughout the building! We have been told we are going to get additional teachers, but it is unclear when this will happen or how it will impact the whole building's roster. At this point teaching 180-200 students a day creates absurd challenges in terms of resources (finding enough books! making enough copies!), grading, etc. I ended up with enough chairs because I was able to poach chairs from the sad, empty classrooms of colleagues who were cut from our building last spring. The most daunting task is providing our students with the attention and personal support they need, all the more important because our itinerant guidance counselor now has 8 schools (and over 3700 students!!!). We are all working so hard to give our students what they need, but I can't see how it can last this way. Something has got to give!
Submitted by Concerned Phila (not verified) on September 22, 2013 10:21 pm
This is untenable. It is particularly disturbing as a parent of one of your students and a teacher in a school with a similar situation. If the SRC / Hite / Khin / Nutter / etc. truly cared about Philadelphia students, they would realize "leveling" classes means at least 6 weeks of chaotic instruction and turmoil. This leaves us, for all intensive purposes, 2 months behind many other districts / charters. The lack of counselors is criminal. The only "movement" our of the SRC/Hite/Khin/Nutter/etc. is to strangle teachers and threaten union gains which benefit students.
Submitted by Helen Gym on September 22, 2013 5:19 pm

Please file a formal legal complaint. Parents United and Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia are working with a number of different groups to file formal complaints with the State Dept. of Education. The Secretary of Education is responsible for receiving complaints and for investigating any claims of curriculum or educational deficiency and correcting them. Put the onus on the state where it belongs: http://parentsunitedphila.com/file-a-complaint/

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 8:22 pm
This is the situation in my classroom. I have 20 Life-Skills K-2 students and one Full-Time Assistant. Last year there were two full-time assistants with this many students, but one was cut for this year. Several of the students, besides being life skills, also have behavior issues and/or autism diagnoses, making the safety of the students the major concern for myself and my aide, and teaching and learning are constantly disrupted simply because the class is not properly staffed. TSS aides have been requested as far back as last June but no additional help has been forthcoming. As with any life skills class, I have in my care children in wheelchairs and braces, with unsteady gait, in diapers and needing changing, and requiring hand holding in the hallways to prevent elopement and falls. One aide to assist me with this number and population is clearly not right. Yet the PSD says safety is their number one priority. It does not look like it to me. Clearly the District owes these children more TSS helpers and a second full-time aide.
Submitted by Joan Taylor on September 23, 2013 6:24 am
Get in touch with Parents United. Your situation has to be identified somewhere along the line to be rectified.
Submitted by Cornellian (not verified) on September 22, 2013 8:19 pm
You can barely walk around my room and yet I am suppose to do small group activities with 31 children. None of the their reading scores are up on the internet yet either. The few pinboards I have are taken up with the mandatory word walls and yet the principal wants to know why I am not putting up posters for each teaching activity despite the fact that she has yet to supply us with any supplies. We have to xerox the emergency forms for the office using our own paper which they promise they will eventually give us. 440 is lying about class size Mr. and Mrs. Public. Why aren't you angry?
Submitted by Joan Taylor on September 23, 2013 6:21 am
Have you reported these numbers to the PFT? to Parents United? Please do so if you have not. Specifics are needed here.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 8:20 pm
This is the situation in my classroom. I have 20 Life-Skills K-2 students and one Full-Time Assistant. Last year there were two full-time assistants with this many students, but one was cut for this year. Several of the students, besides being life skills, also have behavior issues and/or autism diagnoses, making the safety of the students the major concern for myself and my aide, and teaching and learning are constantly disrupted simply because the class is not properly staffed. TSS aides have been requested as far back as last June but no additional help has been forthcoming. As with any life skills class, I have in my care children in wheelchairs and braces, with unsteady gait, in diapers and needing changing, and requiring hand holding in the hallways to prevent elopement and falls. One aide to assist me with this number and population is clearly not right. Yet the PSD says safety is their number one priority.. It does not look like it to me. Clearly the District owes these children more TSS helpers and a second full-time aide.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 9:32 pm
You must be a new teacher because first of all the district does not provide TSS workers they only provide 1:1 assistants which is a big difference,secondly you are clearly over the caseload limit for a LSS class do you have a legal ground to stand on with your principal, use it!!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 10:43 pm
Actually there is no legal caseload limit for life skills classes (other than the limit of 25 for SPED Teachers in general)- the classes are usually kept to about 15 to make it functional for everyone.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 10:32 pm
Actually there is no legal caseload limit for life skills classes (other than the limit of 25 for SPED Teachers in general)- the classes are usually kept to about 15 to make it functional for everyone.
Submitted by Joan Taylor on September 22, 2013 10:04 pm
A former student of mine who is attending Central reports that he has not received a math textbook because the roster keeps changing to accommodate the insufficient number of teachers. When the roster is finally finalized and class lists are stable, teachers will distribute texts.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 22, 2013 10:29 pm
At least they have texts. We have received no consumables, at least none have been distributed to the teachers. I hope the copy machine service contracts are paid up. Our machines will need a lot of servicing this year, if the first 2 weeks are any indication of what's ahead.
Submitted by Joan Taylor on September 23, 2013 6:22 am
I hope you have provided the name of your school and your situation to both the PFT and, more importantly, Parents United. Schools need to be identified so that people don't dismiss this situation as mere grumping on the part of teachers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 7:00 am
Thanks Joan. How do I get in touch with parents united.. What is the number, who do I call. This is an important situation I believe.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on September 23, 2013 7:56 am
Email them at: parentsunitedphila@gmail.com
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 7:37 pm
We haven't received consumables for years. If you have had them up until now consider yourself lucky.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 12:21 am
I am fed up with the PFT's response to the "new normal". We need to do a walk out or sick out! Something needs to be done ASAP.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 1:26 am
The PFT executive board doesn't get it. They are in a cushy, decades old job at 1816 Chestnut St.Check it out sometime. I saw it firsthand. I'd love to work there and make that type of money. No stress. File a PFT grievance and they might get to it (if at all) in two or three plus years later if it can be found under all the dust that built up over it along the way. Call them and get a miserable voice on the other end substantiating what the District just did even though it's against the contract. Give them great ideas or a better way to do things and they try to put you down or discount it completely. Contact them via email, calls, tweets, etc., and since they work like it's the 1960's -with no voicemail's or returning emails,(heaven forbid they be transparent) so you won't get any response. How rude! What other organization, business does this and functions. I can answer that-most don't but the PFT headquarters will. They try to wear their members out more than we already are. And the Band Played On...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 6:16 pm
But the Titanic sank!
Submitted by Joan Taylor on September 23, 2013 6:43 am
I am very concerned about the concessions we may be on the verge of making. I have attended membership meetings, I went to Harrisburg, I walked in the Labor Day parade, etc., and I don't have any sense that the leadership gets us. I am quite worried that we are going to be sold out unless Jerry sees that his only option is to fight for real. I am fine with the PFT following all legal options as long as we refuse concessions beyond the pay cut of health benefit contributions--which I do object to, but that seems to be a done deal. Shrinking my pay further? No. I earn every cent of it. (In fact, I've been underpaid for years.) I think it is time for our well-paid staffers to spend more than overtime mobilizing the membership. Red shirt Fridays are not mobilization. Who will tell Jerry et al? I intend to be very clear with my staffer when she meets with us this week. I hope that everyone who shares my concerns speaks up during chapter meetings.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 12:50 pm
Joan, you are exactly correct. Email PFT officers: jjordan@pft.org,akempin@pft.org,lharris@pft.org,bgordan@pft.org,dphillips@pft.org,jmcgowan@pft.org Anyone could tell Jerry Jordan (or PFT officers) any good advice to you are blue in the face and he/they still won't totally get it. WE need a fresh, stronger, with new ideas PFT leadership and quickly. The ship is and has been sinking for a long time. And the PFT leaders just watched it slowly sink. A red shirt Friday or standing (with about three others outside the building handing out flyers) does not constitute unity. Solidarity is treating your members with respect, following the contract, executing grievances, without excuses, in a timely fashion, returning calls and emails in a courteous prompt manner, being open and welcoming to members input,energize,motivate and inspire your rank and file, and staying firm on issues as members exclusive representative. Jordan (and PFT officers) have a reputation of rolling over for a valid reason, because he/they have many times or just by inaction -- it was implied. BTW, has anyone heard one ounce of information since Sept. 2nd union meeting? Of course not, Jordan and the PFT leaders think we aren't deserving or privy of such information. Let the members know what is the situation almost a month later. Inform members of what the SDP negotiators are discussing or if they moved on any issues at all-give your members something. email all of the PFT officers including the following below and demand answers or info.Don't be surprised by their motto silence is golden since they probably won't respond but demand it. jjordan@pft.org akempin@pft.org lharris@pft.org bgordan@pft.org dphillips@pft.org jmcgowan@pft.org
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 1:06 pm
Whatever happened to the meeting Mayor Nutter and Jerry Jordan were supposed to have. The PFT cancelled ads criticizing Nutter and said it was done in exchange for a meeting with Nutter, meaning they were effective. But nothing since!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 23, 2013 3:32 pm
You, Joan, Tom, Dick and Harry can all email till your collective face falls off---They don't care about any of that. If it makes you feel good, it's your waste of time not mine. Until the people react in a big, solid and hostile way to this abuse and corruption, things will only get worse.
Submitted by Mr. Cheng (not verified) on September 23, 2013 7:19 pm
You have a lot to say and post often. I think you'd be a good one to organize a reaction. Tell us how you'd start.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 23, 2013 7:34 pm
First of all, every person humanly possible needs to flood center city and block all traffic. Create a civil disturbance that is legal by the way. The PFT needs to call a strike and challenge ACT 46. People Power as George Orwell liked to scream. Meandering around, wearing red shirts, emailing people, calling people, fasting for crying out loud, praying for help, singing silly songs and all the rest of it is USELESS. They feel no pressure, no worries, no inconvenience, no downside, no exposure, nothing to fear, nothing to lose. This happens to still be the USA the last time I checked.
Submitted by Mr. Cheng (not verified) on September 23, 2013 8:34 pm
So organize it!
Submitted by HS teach (not verified) on September 23, 2013 9:18 pm
You are so right.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 5:25 pm
You said we need a fresh, strong leadership quickly. Who is that going to be? Who is going to run against Jerry in the next PFT election? I agree with all of your ideas: Solidarity is treating your members with respect, following the contract, executing grievances, without excuses, in a timely fashion, returning calls and emails in a courteous prompt manner, being open and welcoming to members input,energize,motivate and inspire your rank and file, and staying firm on issues as members exclusive representative. Now we need someone who will put them into play. Are you our next leader??
Submitted by Joan Taylor on September 23, 2013 8:39 pm
I can't say that it's a role I'd want, but I am willing to work to put a team in place. I keep hearing about Anissa Weintraub (I believe that's her name) from Teacher Action Group as a young possibility. I don't know Anissa, but I've seen her and she seems smart and hard-working. I also think Kristen Luebert seems like someone who's got brains and experience. (I know Kristen through the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, but as an acquaintance.) I think there are plenty of good minds in the PFT. Right now, law firms underwrite union campaigns and then they become the provider of PFT services. This creates a stumbling block for a free and democratic process. There has to be a way to structure our union to allow a wider range of voices to be heard. I also don't think it's enough to turn the PFT over to a new team without some changes that would force term limits of 3 to 5 years on our staffers. Anybody out there have some workable ideas? (And no, Joe, we're not talking molotov cocktails!) We've got to start talking about changes. I know there is a ton of talent out there. We need a mechanism for keeping new blood moving through our leadership. These jobs should be more than an escape from the classroom.
Submitted by Concerned Phila (not verified) on September 23, 2013 8:34 pm
Agreed the staffers should not work more than 3 - 5 years at 18th and Chestnut. Then, they should return to the classroom. The "leadership" is composed of people who are clueless about teaching within the last decade - some 3 decades. They are making 12 month salaries sitting in an air conditioned building while the rank and file are left in the lurch.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 25, 2013 9:59 pm
Come on now, it takes alot of time to write up those excuses as to why the PFT can never do anything when the administration violates your contractual rights. Thinking up new excuses takes time. However, I'd love to see the PFT carry our workload and then do all the crap they think we have time to do for them. It's time to give these leeches their walking papers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 9:55 am
I have 38 students in two of my five classes. Lots of behavior issues and/or special education needs. These are not tall tales. It's happening. Teaching children to read or write with that many students and no assistant or help is lunacy. But their failure will be my failure? Yeah okay.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 8:52 pm
I "teach" 180 students, 30% of whom should be in an emotional support room. In the suburbs there are so many aids in the classroom that it's actually annoying. It's difficult to be heard over the numerous side conversations. if ever aids were needed in classrooms, it's in Philly. There is no way to teach a class when 1/3 of them are literally uncontrollable. They hijack the room, the agenda and to hell with anyone who gives a damn. It's a joke. Why is the Philadelphia School District failing? It's not a mystery. And nobody can do anything about it. That's the sad reality that nobody wants to talk about. Just keep coming into the classrooms and recording verbatim what the teachers are saying. That'll turn the tide.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 24, 2013 6:43 pm
Yes! I am really starting to dislike these kids. It's like managing a pack of wild animals. It's ridiculous.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 8:30 pm
I would do it. Unfortunately, the AFT /PFT elections are shams and not actually voting by members-as they once were. They rewrote the union constitution and by-laws to circumvent all that. Jordan,Kirch, and Weingarten will be there as long as they want because they do not have democratic elections. Just a few delgates that vote them in. All arranged ahead of time. As for Joe K. comment -- members need a to rejuvenate and take back the PFT and have a union for and by the members (like it's supposed to be) instead of for the PFT officers and staff and members look down upon . Just remember what Jordan and crew did Sept. 2.2013 meeting and back in Jan. 2009 contract vote.It's explicit how he treats his members.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 24, 2013 11:29 am
I have five sections. Four are at thirty three or one or two short, and one is at thirty five.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 25, 2013 4:48 pm
Up to 42 in classes! I have no more room for desks!! My room is so crowded it's a fire hazard.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 25, 2013 11:30 pm
ALL of the first grade classes at Forrest are over, 40, 38 , 37..... I believe there are six classes of first grade. There is also a waiting list in the 70's for Kindergarten supposedly. I believe third grade is over also but only by one student in each of their classes...so something like 5 kids total. No math books either.

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