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NEA Gives New York Schools a Failing Grade

Though public schools across the nation are improving their school 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 the New York schools. Here are some of the challenges that the New York schools continue to face during the 2006-2007 school year.

Average Sizes for Schools and Classes

The elementary and secondary New York schools 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 New York schools rank fifth to have the largest elementary schools on average in the United States. Their high schools are even larger, averaging 1004 students per school. That is 33 percent higher than the national average, making the New York schools system the eighth largest in average high school 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 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 New York 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 New York schools lack adequate outlets and the necessary wiring for computer use in the classroom.

Teacher Salaries

Teacher salaries in the New York schools continue to decline. While other public school systems across the nation have increased salaries over the past ten years, teacher salaries in the New York schools system have decreased in constant dollars by eight percent. This means that many of the quality teachers are either moving out-of-state to teach or moving into new career fields that pay better. The NEA has designated the New York schools as one of the four worse states for allowing real teacher salaries to decline.

As the NEA points out, the New York schools have many challenges yet to face in order to provide a quality education to the youth within the state of New York.

About the Author: Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Patricia has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more information on New York schools visit

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