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.
Not only will the Education Department decline to comment on the survey, they probably won't even read it.
Because if we have learned anything after nine years of Bloomberg's reign, he already has all the answers and we need to listen to him tell us what those answers are.