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Friday, January 14, 2011

Cathie Black's Answer To Oversize Classes: "Could we just have some birth control?"

So now we know how to solve the problem of classes with 30+ kids: take birth control, stop having children.

Brilliant. Thank you, Mike Bloomberg!!!!

I hope your stay in Bermuda on December 26 was fun, lots of fun.

Betsy Combier

Big classes, budget cuts should be top concerns for Cathie Black, survey says
BY Meredith Kolodner
Monday, January 10th 2011

Parents want the new schools chancellor to tackle bloated class size and overcrowding, while principals worry most about teacher layoffs and budget cuts, according to a new survey.

Almost half of the more than 1,000 New Yorkers who responded to an anonymous online questionnaire picked class size as one of their top three priorities for Chancellor Cathie Black.

"You can have a perfect curriculum and a perfect teacher, but if there are 30 kids in the class, then you don't stand a chance of your child actually getting a good education," one parent wrote in the unscientific survey set up by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. "The kids in my daughter's class can barely all fit on the rug and still see the board."

Curriculum quality and rigor, together with budget cuts and teacher layoffs, were also top priorities for the roughly 640 public school parents who responded.

"After nearly a decade of focus on testing," one parent wrote, "the curriculum is watered down, without content, and doesn't serve high-achieving OR struggling students."

The three dozen principals who weighed in rated the item marked "budget cuts and teacher layoffs" as their most pressing concern.

"The budget issue is so bad it makes it almost impossible to put the books in the classrooms," one principal wrote.

The anonymous online poll allowed respondents to pick three concerns among a list of 26, or to name their own.

Stringer said he was struck by the number of parents who felt like their input was ignored.

"This report shows very clearly that there are a lot of parents, teachers and principals who are hungry to discuss their ideas," Stringer said. "This is one storm City Hall can get ahead of by having such a discussion."

More than half of the 164 teachers who answered the survey picked class size as a chief concern, and 46% named budget cuts and layoffs.

"As a high school teacher, having 34 per class is just overwhelming," wrote one teacher. "I am a strong classroom manager, but spend a lot of time doing crowd control. When I have a class of 25, it is so much better and I can TEACH."

A copy of Stringer's report with a list of recommendations will be sent to Black on Monday. The Education Department declined to comment.

Chancellor Black Regrets Birth Control Joke
"Could we just have some birth control?" Black quipped after a parent complained about overcrowded classrooms
By CHRIS GLORIOSO,  Fri, Jan 14, 2011

Two weeks into her appointment, New York City Education Chancellor Cathy Black is under fire for making a sarcastic joke about birth control and over-crowding at elementary schools.

The off-color comment came during a meeting with parents and lawmakers on a taskforce assembled to solve the city's pending enrollment crisis.

After one parent pointed out Lower Manhattan will need an additional 1,000 classroom seats by 2015, the rookie schools chief quipped, "Could we just have some birth control? It would really help us a lot."

The joke drew some laughs but also some uncomfortable cringes from attendees who gathered in the room Thursday.

Julie Menin, who attended the meeting in her role as Community Board 1 Chairwoman, thought the comment was inappropriate.

"It was surely a joke, but that doesn't change the tenor of it," Menin said. "The real issue is what is the Chancellor and the Department of Education going to do about overcrowding."

Department of Education brass quickly issued a statement defending the rookie schools chief.

"Chancellor Black takes the issue of overcrowding very seriously, which is why she was engaged in a discussion with lower Manhattan parents on the subject," said spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz. "She regrets if she left a different impression by making and off-handed joke in the course of that conversation."

In just her first two weeks on the job, Black has been no stranger to criticism. The former magazine mogul took over for outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein in the face of parents and teachers who tried to block the appointment with a lawsuit. They argued Black had no education management experience, but a judge allowed the former publishing executive to take her post.

Menin said she is less concerned about political correctness of the birth control joke, than she is about the tone of Black's policy debate.

"I think it was a flippant comment"