Student enrollment in New York City’s public schools plummeted by over 104,000 students from fiscal years 2020 to 2023–from 908,107 to 803,733 students. So, why is the local teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), demanding that the city increase funding and hire thousands of new teachers?

The short answer is, of course, that the UFT wants more dues-paying members. Dues collected from union members enable union leaders to amass political power. Even though 200,000 teachers, classroom paraprofessionals, school secretaries, school counselors, occupational and physical therapists, childcare providers, and nurses already belong to the UFT, the union yearns for more members. It’s never enough.

New York City will spend $39,304 per student in fiscal year 2025, an increase of 26.3% over the $31,119 spent per pupil in fiscal year 2020. The New York City Department of Education (DOE) plans to spend $39.8 billion this year, a 15.2% increase since fiscal year 2020. The UFT isn’t satisfied: “We can’t allow the city to defund our public schools. We are fighting a DOE budget that inexplicably cuts direct funding to public schools and seeks to undermine the new class-size limits.”

The UFT pushed for a 2022 New York state law mandating phased-in class-size caps of 20 for grades K-3, 23 for grades 4-8, and 25 for high school students. According to the New York Post, the class size mandate will drive up the city’s education spending further by “forcing the hiring of another 17,000 teachers at a yearly cost of $1.9 billion.”

To learn more about how teachers unions relentlessly demand more funding, read “Los Angeles Teachers Union Members Skip School To Demand More Money” and “$50 Billion Chicago Teachers Union Contract Demands Higher Pay And Lower Expectations.”

For more information about teachers unions, check out the IWF Education Freedom Center’s Teachers Union Resource Center.