NYC Schools chancellor regrets birth control joke

January 14, 2011 8:27:31 PM PST
A spokeswoman says New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black was making a joke when she suggested overcrowded schools could be solved with birth control.

Black made the controversial remark at a task force meeting on school overcrowding Thursday.

Upon hearing estimates that Lower Manhattan would need an additional 1,000 elementary seats by 2015, Black said birth control "would really help us."

It didn't take long for the Schools Chancellor's critics to pounce.

"We think this is outrageous, insulting, it's racist, we're not accepting an apology, it's no joke," NYC Councilman Charles Barron said.

From members of the city council to parents, there is outrage.

"That is so wrong, that should never even came out and about," said Kadijah Richburg, a parent.

Cathie Black's remarks at a meeting in Lower Manhattan about overcrowding touched a nerve.

The Department of Education says it was a joke, others aren't so sure.

Julie Menn is a member of Community Board One in Lower Manhattan.

She was at the meeting and says the remark offended several people in the room.

Natalie Ravitz, Communications Director of the NYC Department of Education released a statement saying, "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. She regrets if she left a different impression by making an off-handed joke in the course of that conversation."

New York State Assem. Speaker Sheldon Silver released a statement saying, "I am glad that Chancellor Black came to the meeting and was able to hear first hand from parents. Jokes aside, I think she really heard the message that Lower Manhattan schools are in the midst of an overcrowding crisis and I am hopeful we can work together to find a solution."

Black is a former executive at Hearst Magazines and USA Today.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg angered some parents by selecting Black for the post since she had no public school or teaching experience.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Do you have something to add to this story? Click here to contact Eyewitness News.