Classes in New York Too Big, Students Suffering

While many cities across the United States, including Seattle and Tulsa, are facing overcrowded schools, perhaps none are quite as dire as New York City. Overcrowding in New York City schools has hit a 10-year high, a situation that has led to much finger-pointing and blame-shifting. But regardless of the reasons, in the end it is the students who wind up suffering the most.

Find available tutors

'Stop This Craziness'

Many fingers are pointing blame at huge budget reductions for the current condition of New York City schools. More than $1.5 billion in budget cuts over the past few years has led to fewer teachers and fewer schools even as student numbers increase.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), spoke about the situation from a high school in Lower Manhattan in September. Referring to budget cuts, Mulgrew said, 'We have to stop this craziness,' reported The New York Times.

crowded classes public schools new york city

The Blame Game

While a shrinking budget has undoubtedly played a major part in the overcrowded troubles facing New York City schools, some are placing blame elsewhere.

UTF has said that the New York Department of Education (DOE) was ordered by the state to lower class sizes and even brought the matter to court (the suit was dismissed in July 2011). The DOE simply shifted blame back to budget cuts as the reason for their inability to reduce class sizes.

Others point to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, claiming he has broken a campaign promise. 'He ran for office on a promise that he would reduce class sizes and he has failed miserably,' Leonie Haimson told PIX 11 in September. Haimson is executive director of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit advocate for the reduction of class sizes not just in New York City public schools but in schools across the entire country.

A Problem Years in the Making?

Perhaps no one can say they didn't see this coming.

Back in 1995, the New York City Comptroller's Office of Policy Management issued a report titled Overcrowding in New York City Public Schools: Where Do We Go From Here?, which began: 'New York City schools are severely overcrowded and the problem will probably get substantially worse over the next decade.' The report went on to discuss the deplorable conditions in some schools, where classes were actually held in closets and bathrooms!

A 1995 report from the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College stated that overcrowding was 'seriously eroding instruction and learning.'

Suffer the Children

Increased class sizes can have an adverse effect on some students. For instance, classes in grades K-3 have grown from 21 or 22 to, in some cases, more than 30. Larger class sizes can lead to more students falling behind. According to research, class size during these formative years can also determine future achievement and success not just in school but life in general.

In some city high schools, as many as 41 students can make up a single class and lunch periods can begin as early as 10 a.m. and even as late as 3 p.m. About 2,600 classes in high schools throughout Queens have more than 34 students. At Herbert Lehman High School in the Bronx, senior Jae Maree Marty told The New York Times, 'All of my classes are full. I have to go to class early to get a seat.'

While classes may not be meeting in bathrooms as they did a decade and a half ago, things are bad and could get worse as funding for education continues to deteriorate. Said Haimson, 'These are third world conditions in the richest city in the world.'

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Should IT Matter How Your Child's Teacher Dresses?

    Dress codes have long been a staple in many schools across the country. In some cases, students and even parents have opposed them. But what about dress codes for teachers? When it comes to this issue, just where do most people stand? And should a teacher's clothing even be of concern to parents?

  • More Blog Articles
    How Can You Know if College Is Right for Your Child?

    A prevailing school of thought is that most people need college in order to be successful. But this certainly may not always be the case. Quite simply, not everyone is college material. If your teen will soon be graduating from high school, you may need to contemplate whether college is right for your child.

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth