classroomsBy Guest Blogger Michelle Ballard

As the parent of students who have overcome struggles in school, Im very concerned about the new teachers contract cutting classroom time.  School districts across the country are lengthening the school day and their students are improving because of it.  But the new contract in New York City actually cuts instructional time by two and a half hours per week, which adds up to three weeks per year.

When my daughter was in second grade, she was having a lot of trouble with reading comprehension.  It was so bad that the principal told me that she was at risk of being held back.  I started meeting regularly with all of her teachers.

They decided that in order to get my daughter on track, she needed to start working every day on reading comprehension in a smaller group.  As a result of that extra help, she was not held back, and this June she will graduate from Junior High.  In fact, shes in the running to be valedictorian.


Not every child learns in the same way as other kids, and sometimes they need extra small group support to keep up.  That doesnt make them less smart or less hard working.  I have five kids.  Four are currently in the Public School system and one is a graduate.

Both my daughter and my son were helped by small group time with teachers.  But Im worried that my younger daughter wont have the same chance.  Shes ten years old, the same age that her brother and sister got the extra help that kept them on pace with their peers.
If she falls behind, who will help her?  Who will make sure that kids all around the city get the extra help they need to keep up?  Losing two and a half hours of precious instructional time could put them even farther behind.

I was optimistic a few weeks ago when the Mayor and the Schools Chancellor announced the new city teachers contract. Carmen Farina is a former principal, and shes talked a lot about bringing joy to the classroom, something I welcome.

But I had no idea watching the chancellor and the mayor with the head of the union that day sharing smiles and hugs during the announcement that my daughters education, and the education of thousands of kids like her around the city, was the collateral damage.

I hope that Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina put back the instructional time they cut from the school day. Kids like my daughter need that time and they dont deserve to be shortchanged.

I wish more adults in charge would think more about the students who really need this time in the classroom.

Michelle Ballard is a New York City Public School parent and Bedford-Stuyvesant resident.

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  1. Can you pls clarify–what exactly is being cut? The small-group instructional time you mention? What exactly does the new contract say?

  2. As a parent of two NYC Public School children I do not feel that Mayor DeBlasio and Chancellor Farino had our children’s best interest at heart when they stood on the steps of City Hall sharing smiles and exchanged kisses with the head of the teachers union and blindsiding the parents by telling them that they were going to have more parent engagement time but what they did not tell our parents was that our children would actually be loosing 37 1/2 hour of learning time per week.

    This just does not make sense to me, it is a known and proven fact that children learn better when there is an extended day in place.

    Mayor DeBlasio and Chancellor Farino, as a mother of two NYC Public School Students I am demanding that you return the 37 1/2 minutes back to our children.

  3. I could not agree more with what you wrote. This is ridiculous. DeBlasio is paying for the union votes. In the end, this administration is working for the wealthy that can afford to send their kids to private school where their kids will further outperform public school kids.
    Now family will need to have childcare for an extra 2.5h/week. Good job crushing low and middle income family!

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