The overcrowded nature of many elementary schools in the New York area is alarming not only for the parents of children enrolled but should also serve as the source of much discomfort for the school district’s administrative officials and local legislators (Sanchez, 1993). Concerns over instructors’ abilities to maintain discipline, their susceptibility to psychological burnout, and adverse effects on the students, among other issues, all arise, or are at the very least exacerbated, when the conditions of a school are such that eventual overcrowding is inevitable. Much research into this glaring oversight of the many school districts surrounding New York City has focused on similar byproducts of overcrowding. The purpose of my research is to further explore the relationship between overcrowded elementary schools, specifically those in Queens, NY, and subsequent negative impacts that such situations impose on the lives of these students.
As other research has indicated, there are a myriad of detriments surrounding overcrowded schools, both in regard to the instructors as well as the students. That some instructors actually teach in “hallways, closets, and even toilets” (Segura-Mora, 2003), is reason enough to more aggressively pursue a resolution to this social predicament. Additionally, separate research has shown that an instructor’s degree of efficacy can be substantially reduced as a result of overcrowded classrooms, especially since children learn best when their individual needs are tended to (Frassinelli, 2002). Still other studies have concluded that instructors often feel a sense of urgency, or shortage of time, when so many students are packed into a single classroom (Sanderson, 2001). And while the topic of overcrowding in schools might once have been initiated in a racial context (Brazwell, 2010), it remains now as solely a topic of inadequate public provision on behalf of school administrations and governments in New York City. However, such issues shall only serve as supplemental considerations in my research as the bulk of my investigations will focus on the adversity of children subjected to the overcrowded schools of Queens, New York, and the lack of privileges there which so many other students take for granted.
In order to more fully ascertain the academic and personal progression of students subjected to overcrowded classrooms, there are a number of steps that must be taken. It is first necessary to identify students that either are, or have been, placed in classrooms where overcrowding is, or was, a problem. After the parental consent forms of the students that wish to participate in the program have been signed, I will discuss, with the student, details concerning his or her experience in the overcrowded environment. With the consent of the child’s parents, I hope to gain access to the student’s academic transcripts in order that I might further deduce the effect that overcrowding has on a student’s learning abilities. My intention here is to gain access to as much information as possible surrounding the student’s development—transcripts, instructor evaluations, parental commentary, as well as information of an extracurricular nature, if any. Furthermore, such information will be analyzed to either corroborate or disprove any hypotheses that stipulate a connection between overcrowded schools and an education far below the kind afforded to students in otherwise normally populated schools. In addition to these goals, my research may also shed light on graduation rates, dropout rates, and other socially vital information, given that I am able to procure information from students in higher education in these same areas. My strategy for securing such information will be discussed in the following pages.
Furthermore, while it may not be feasible to track the academic record of a child from elementary school through high school graduation, there is still a need for all levels of public education to be equitably represented in the analysis. As such, I plan on distributing fliers to all of the local junior high schools and high schools in the area of Queens to help identify which, if any, of the students in attendance did at one time or another attend an elementary school where any such overcrowding was present. Once located, these students would be asked to disclose whether or not they had ever attended such overcrowded schools. In the event that students answer in the affirmative, we would further ask that they share whether or not their scholastic performances have increased, decreased, or remained stable since that time. Clearly, in regard to both parents and older students, some form of compensation will likely be necessary to encourage such open communication in these matters. This will be dealt with later on in the study and does not greatly affect overall planning or strategy.
One reason why it is imperative that classrooms over capacity should not persist is because with each year that passes, a larger proportion of the student population is being subjected to such overcrowding. Additionally, that the construction of new schools has been met with opposition from some Queens locals (Hernandez, 2009), it is essential that the full spectrum of ramifications surrounding overcrowded schools and classrooms be understood in order that such hindrances be avoided in the years to come. With more and more school-age children walking into admissions offices year after year, this is certainly an issue that deserves to be at the forefront of the education agenda.
Once sufficient data has been collected, analyzed, and interpreted, there is a strong probability that the associations between overcrowded elementary schools and the ensuing unfavorable outcomes in students’ academic and personal lives will be statistically substantiated. As a matter of logic, there are few who can argue that an academic setting where instructors are often asked to teach in a classroom with nearly twice as many students than a school district deems to be ‘legal’ would result in many of those students receiving less attention in regards to their intellectual upbringing. Still, there is a deficit of research sufficient that elementary schools across the nation are routinely crammed to capacity—perpetuating the disadvantages that only students from overcrowded schools are asked to endure.
Brazwell, M. M. (2010). "No one ever asked us": Counter stories of the Rochester, NY open enrollment process. (Order No. 3423441, State University of New York at Buffalo). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 160. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/758932024?accountid=4485. (758932024).
Frassinelli, B. C. (2002). Aspects of the teaching profession that contribute to burnout among urban elementary school teachers.(Order No. 3045475, The George Washington University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 185-185 p. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/305526649?accountid=4485. (305526649).
Hernandez, J. C. (2009, Mar 17). In a part of queens with crowded schools, opposition to a new one. New York Times (1923-Current File). Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1030621492?accountid=4485
Sanchez, C. M. T. (1993). An historical inquiry into the role of community activist organizations in dealing with the problem of overcrowded elementary schools in the Hispanic community of Chicago, 1970-1990. (Order No. 9324995, Northern Illinois University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 177-177 p. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/304051790?accountid=4485. (304051790).
Sanderson, D. R. (2001). Moving targets: An interpretive look at how one school faces issues related to transiency, achievement and instructional continuity. (Order No. 3008899, University of Pennsylvania). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 249-249 p. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/304715006?accountid=4485. (304715006).
Segura-Mora, A. (2003). Teaching in the trenches: The dilemmas of critical elementary school educators. (Order No. 3081675, The Claremont Graduate University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 211-211 p. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/304177211?accountid=4485. (304177211).