Just two weeks after stepping into her new role as New York's schools chancellor, Cathie Black is drawing criticism from parents and school administrators for for a flippant comment she made during an otherwise serious meeting about the city's overpopulated schools.
"Could we just have some birth control?" Black said during a meeting with a school overcrowding task force Thursday in lower Manhattan. "It would really help us out," she added as the comment earned subtle chuckles from the panel.
Black's off-handed comment immediate proceeded the testimony of Eric Greenleaf, a PS 234 parent and NYU professor, who warned that lower Manhattan will need space for another 1,000 elementary school students by 2015, DNAinfo.com reports.
According to the New York Daily News, many parents aren't laughing.
"I always cringe when I hear that. Joel Klein said it a couple of years ago as well," PS 234 parent Tricia Joyce told the Daily News. "I understand the temptation to joke about it. But our situation isn't funny any more."
Joyce also voiced concerns that Black compared weighing the needs of different schools to the movie "Sophie's Choice."
“I don’t mean this in any flip way. It is many Sophie’s choices,” Black said, in a reference to a story in which a mother in the Auschwitz death camp has to decide which of her two children should live.
"As we all know, one child dies (in the movie). This isn't optional," Joyce said. "We have a right to a public school seat."
On Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended Black on another front, fighting off criticism of the schools chancellor's decision to attend a press conference on the city's snowfall instead of following through on a scheduled visit to a State Island school.
"I thought it was important that she be there to answer questions, which she did, about school closings. So, sorry, but we will reschedule," Bloomberg said.