Bloomberg: Large Classes OK if Teaching is Good

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has caused controversy after claiming that as long as teaching improves, large classes are fine.

Speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this week, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg sparked controversy after appearing to say that a doubled class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students, writes Mary Ann Giordano at the New York Times.

According to an online news report by Marcia Kramer of CBS New York News, the mayor said:

“If I had the ability, which nobody does really, to just design a system and say, ‘ex cathedra, this is what we’re going to do,’ you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them, and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers.”

But the mayor’s office responded by saying that the complete quote and context of the speech was emphasizing the need for quality teaching, at higher pay. Here’s the fuller quote from his speech:

“Education is very much, I’ve always thought, just like the real estate business. Real estate business, there are three things that matter: location, location, location is the old joke. Well in education, it is: quality of teacher, quality of teacher, quality of teacher. And I would — if I had the ability, which nobody does really, to just design a system and say, ‘ex cathedra, this is what we’re going to do,’ you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them, and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers. And double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students.”

The teachers union currently claim that classrooms are more crowded than they have been in a decade, and as class sizes are on the rise, crowding in schools is a hot-button issue among parents and other education stakeholders. And so whichever way you look at it, Mr. Bloomberg’s remarks were provocative to say the least.

The United Federation of Teachers president, Michael Mulgrew, recalled when the mayor decided to appoint a former magazine editor with no teaching experience to be schools chancellor, claiming that he’d put these comments in the same category:

“So the mayor thinks this is a good idea — in high schools to have class size in high schools of 70 kids,” Mr. Mulgrew said.

“Clearly the mayor has never taught. And probably the mayor’s having another Cathie Black moment,” a reference to Cathleen P. Black, whose tenure as schools chancellor lasted only a few months.

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