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NEA Gives New York Schools a Failing Grade

Though public schools across the nation are improving their environments for students, the New York schools are falling behind, according to the National Education Association (NEA). In a recently posted web page, the NEA cited many failings of New York. Here are some of the challenges that the NY schools continue to face during the 2006-2007 year.

Average Sizes for Classes and Campuses

The elementary and secondary schools in New York continue to be among the largest schools in the nation. The average size of an elementary school within the New York schools system is 27 percent higher than the national average. With an average of 558 students per elementary school, the schools in New York rank fifth to have the largest elementary populations on average in the United States. Their high schools are even larger, averaging 1004 students per campus. That is 33 percent higher than the national average, making the school system in New York the eighth largest in average size.

The class sizes in the New York schools also are among the largest with an average of 22 students per class. The NEA ranked the New York schools as the tenth largest in average elementary class size nationally.

Poor Infrastructure

In addition to the overcrowding in the New York schools, their crumbling and aging infrastructure is in desperate disrepair with a third of the facilities in need of extensive repair or replacement. The costs to complete construction and repair needs on school buildings and facilities are estimated to be as high as $15 billion. During the 2006-2007 school year, the New York schools will have literally tens of thousands of students attending class in mobile trailers, storage areas, and converted bathrooms — not the most conducive environment for learning.

The NY schools rank among the bottom ten states in the percentage of schools with at least one unsatisfactory environment condition. Seventy-six percent of the New York schools fall into this category. There are 36 percent with poor ventilation that is bad for children with respiratory ailments, such as asthma, and contributes to higher illness rates of children and staff from passing viruses back and forth through the stagnant air. Additionally, 28 percent of all New York schools have bad plumbing and 31 percent of the schools have roofs that are crumbling.

As important as computers have become to educational opportunities in the United States, more than a third of the NY schools lack adequate outlets and the necessary wiring for computer use in the classroom.

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