Two weeks: That's all it took for new Schools Chancellor Cathie Black to embarrass herself and her office.
At a meeting Thursday on school overcrowding, parents hit Black with some stark data: By 2015, Lower Manhattan will be short some 1,000 school seats.
Cue Cathie the Comedienne: "Could we just have some birth control for a while? It could really help us all out a lot."
Don't quit your . . . oh, never mind.
Sure, a Department of Education spokeswoman says that Black takes the overcrowding issue "very seriously."
"She regrets if she left a different impression by making an off-handed joke in the course of that conversation."
Still, the joke wasn't even the worst of it. Black next tried being serious.
She told the group that every neighborhood has its own unique "issues" -- and that everyone comes tugging at the DOE for help in different directions, making it impossible to satisfy all comers.
"So it is -- and I don't mean this in any flip way -- it is, it is many Sophie's Choices. With a, you know, with a board on the wall and saying duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh."
So New York students either get the school of their parents' preference or . . . transport to a Nazi death camp?
Now, we don't think that the chancellor finds her students a burden, or thinks there are too many forgotten urchins in her schools.
But the circumstances of her ascension to the chancellorship were such that she has zero margin for error.
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.
Certainly she needs to come to terms with the stark fact that, ex officio, she acquired many, many enemies when she became chancellor. They want her to fail, and they will do everything in their power to harm her and, by extension, her principal -- Mayor Bloomberg.
Black has just given them much aid and comfort, unnecessarily so.
The chancellor truly needs to watch her words in the future.
Man, when the NY Post suggests that Cathie Black - the woman they said was "a proven manager capable of making policy" is now somebody that they say "may very well be in the wrong line of work," she's in trouble.
Michael Fiorillo makes the point in this comment that even if she goes, the corporate policies will stay the same.
And I have made that point too.
And Fiorillo also says that having her around as long as possible is good for the anti-corporate/real reformer forces.
In fact, we should hope that she stays as long as possible. Every day she's there, she discredits Bloomberg a little more, leaving open the possibility that something will crack and expose these people for the predators and parasites they are.
I agree with that also.
She is a corporate clown, an entitled Upper East Side matron as clueless about the "other half" as Margaret Dumont is about nearly everything in the Marx Brothers movies.
That Bloomberg chose her to lead the school system - and that all the editorial writers and many in the political, business and education establishment in the state (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) and indeed, even the country (see here) - have supported that choice exposes them all to the charge that they just don't give a shit about public education, public education systems, students or teachers.
They care about the money - namely making sure they spend a whole lot less of it and steering almost all of it to privatized education interests.
Now that the Black appointment - and the support Bloomberg shills like the Post have given for it - is coming back to bite the ed deformers, they're worried that she is going to do a helluva lot more damage to the corporate ed deform movement than anything else.
And they may be right.
So, long may Chancellor Black live on to make cracks about birth control for parents as a solution for school overcrowding and references to Nazi Death Camps as the alternative to charter schools - she is EXACTLY what you ed deform guys wanted and now you have to live with her.