JACKSON HEIGHTS — Overcrowded city schools are an issue for all students, but the problem disproportionately impacts immigrant communities, according to a new report.
Immigrant activist group Make the Road New York analyzed Department of Education data and found the overcrowding is most harmful in immigrant communities, according to its report “Where’s My Seat?” which was released Tuesday during a press conference.
They found that the DOE’s Capital Plan “shortchanges” foreign-born students, whose parents say they are concerned about their health and safety inside trailers and packed classrooms, according to the report.
“I’m worried about the trailers because they can be a danger to our children, and I know that many others are suffering the problem that my granddaughter is facing,” said Lillian Tercero, whose granddaughter has class inside a trailer at PS 143.
The school is one of the most overcrowded in District 24, which, along with District 30, are the most overcrowded in the city.
To compile the report, Make the Road analyzed the percentage of foreign-born students, the number of seats needed to lessen overcrowding and the number of seats being built.
They suggested the DOE change its Capital Plan to fully fund the more than 100,000 seats needed across the city, and create a special task force to focus solely on overcrowding.
They also said schools should be taken into consideration when the city embarks on its ambitious rezoning to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing.
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland applauded Make the Road’s report, and said the city “should be prioritizing the elimination of overcrowded classrooms because the environment in which children learn is central to their academic success and the work of every teacher.”
At his education town hall last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has committed $4 billion over the next five years to add new seats, including ,500 for District 30 and 3,400 for District 24.
But he also admitted it isn’t enough to fix the major issues at city schools.
“Four billion and it’s not enough,” he said. “I don’t have more, there may be a day when I can find more, but right now I don’t have more than $4 billion to put into that.”
A spokeswoman for the DOE, Devora Kaye, said they are committed to working with families and other partners to find out how to fix the problem.
“We will continue to engage families, community members and elected officials to ensure we are doing everything possible to provide the high-quality facilities that help our students thrive in and out of the classroom,” she said in a statement.
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