It's teacher hunting season!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marie Antoinette moment in Black's Sophie's Choice comment about crowing

Just when you thought it could not get worse with mayor Michael Bloomberg or his minions saying outrageous things. . . .
New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black recently said of the overcrowding problem in New York City schools that the solution is birth control.
She was joking, but the idea that she thinks she can float such an insensitive and glib response shows how detached she is from her child charges and it shows how flippant she is, on both counts bringing to mind Marie Antoinette and the "let them eat cake line."

What is worse is how in a Freudian slip (in the context of some schools getting lavish resources and other schools in the same building being deprived the most basic resources) she referred to "Sophie's Choice," in the context that there are losers and there are survivors in harrowing times. ("Sophie's Choice" is the Holocaust film about a non-Jewish survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, starring Meryl Streep in an Oscar winning performance.)
Many links are being passed around on this story, see this story at WCBS-TV's (Channel 2) website::
Schools Chancellor In Hot Water Over ‘Sophie’s Choice’ Comments
Joke On Subject Of Overcrowding Turns Into Controversy

January 14, 2011 11:15 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black opened up a can of worms on Thursday after joking about her solution for overcrowding in schools.

“Couldn’t we just have some birth control for a while?” Black mused. “It could really help us out a lot.”

There were chuckles from those attending the meeting, but some said her attempt at a joke was not funny.

WCBS 880 Reporter Marla Diamond finds parents who are not happy with Cathie Black’s controversial comments.

1010 WINS Reporter Terry Sheridan gets reaction from parents to the “birth control” joke.

Now the chancellor is under fire, facing criticism from parents, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.

At a meeting Thursday night in Tribeca, Black compared the tough decisions on schools to a classic book set after the holocaust that was later made into a film starring Meryl Streep.

“So it is, and I don’t mean this in a flip way, it is many Sophie’s choices,’” Black said.

“As we know, in ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ one child dies, so I … you know … I was offended by it. I’m sure the people were,” parent Tricia Joyce said.

Tricia Joyce was at that meeting, called by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to discuss overcrowding in the schools. There were about 40 people in the room. Joyce has children who attend P.S. 234 in Tribeca. Those at the meeting also heard the new schools chancellor make the joke — after a parent who is also an NYU professor detailed the growing number of schoolchildren over the next few years.

“There are jokes that make sense, and jokes that insult and this joke is an insult to us,” parent Nubayaro Fulani told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

“I was surprised and a little disappointed,” added parent Eric Greenleaf, who was sitting across from Black. “I don’t really think she meant that the solution is birth control.”

But Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron said the comment was aimed at minorities.

“It’s ignorant, outrageous, and it’s racist. It has racist connotations to it – 80 percent of the children in the school are back and Latino,” Barron said.

The Department of Education released the following statement: “Chancellor Black takes the issue of overcrowding very seriously. She regrets if she left a different impression by making an off-handed joke in the course of that conversation.”

“It’s actually … out of context. You know if she was nervous it’s not an unusual thing to have said, given the news she had just been delivering. Was it in good taste? In my opinion, no,” Joyce said.

The people that Guzman talked to want to give Chancellor Black a chance. They said they’re hoping this was just a misstep, and not typical of what they could expect in the years to come.

The statement released by Department of Education came only after persistent requests from the media. At first, all the DOE said was: “no comment.”

Click here for critical Post editorial, "Put a lid on it, Cathie."
It's inexcusable for her to make jokes where birth rates -- always a sensitive issue among minority parents -- are the underlying punch line.
And if Black wants to compare overcrowded city schools to packed-in Nazi cattle cars, she may very well be in the wrong line of work.

The New York Daily News yesterday reported that the Antigone-inspired play that school administrators originally banned for its criticism of former schools chancellor Joel Klein was indeed performed.
Rachel Monahan and David Goldner, "Queens kids at Jamaica High School cheer on ex-Chancellor Joel Klein's 'Greek tragedy'" (By the way, Jamaica High School is a school that the Department of Education had tried to close down. A United Federation of Teachers lawsuit has slowed down pursuit of that objective.)
an excerpt from the article:
Pep-rally-style applause greeted student actors from two Queens high schools for their on-again, off-again adaptation of the Greek tragedy "Antigone," which slams Klein over inequalities between the schools.

"After all the hard work we put in, people finally get to see us," said 10th-grader Nneoma Okorie, 15, who played the title role. "People get to hear our side of the story."

Administrators at Jamaica High School and Queens Collegiate initially banned the play, but later allowed the show to go on.

The teacher in charge of the production called the performance a victory for free speech.

The students "demanded they be listened to," said instructor Brian Pickett.

The one-act play took aim at school officials for creating a divisive atmosphere at the two schools, which share the same building. Queens Collegiate is a new and growing school, while Jamaica has been branded a failure and is slated for closure.

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