Mitchell Reports | September 24, 2012
>>> and new york , of course, returning to education nation, new york has the nation's largest public school system serving more than 1 million students with an operating budget of nearly $20 billion. that is $20 billion reasons and 1 million reasons importantly why what happens here is watched across the country. joining me now, the man in charge of it, new york city schools chancellor dennis wolcott .
>> good afternoon.
>> thank you for having us in new york .
>> isn't that fabulous. the new york public library . a great message to the schoolchildren.
>> and what education nation has done to us is tremendous.
>> my education started in the new york public schools ?
>> ps 105 in the bronx.
>> in the bronx.
>> you know we have 1750 schools in new york city right now and we have opened up 600 new schools since the mayor has been in office. it's been an outstanding opportunity to offer choice to our parents and whether it's small schools , large schools, district schools, charter schools , single sect schools , we believe in choice and what the mayor has done has been tremendous opening up high quality schools for our parents and children shoe tell us about this initiative you and the mayor are announcing today which is early childhood education .
>> we announced two things, one we're creating 4,000 new full day seats for pre-k, for 4-year-olds, an additional 4,000 seats and we're devoting roughly $20 million. announced a brand new initiative called edu care new york . a model across the country that's an outstanding model of engaging children from the time they are six weeks old to five years of age. so we'll be opening up an edu care site in brownsville, brooklyn and having parents and children from six weeks old to five years old as a part of that. and then part of that also will be our edu care leadership institute training directors of day care centers and early childhood programs as well.
>> is there any question at all that early education works, especially in neighborhoods where parents cannot help, don't have all the resources in inner cities in particular?
>> research shows the earlier you get to our children as far as providing a solid foundation for education the better off they'll be in the long run and eliminating the achievement gap . our research shows that in new york city and with this initiative by going to brownsville and also with our pre-k initiative we're going to look at low income communities to make sure we have a major impact on those communities and level the playing field .
>> let's talk about another issue which is controversial in many quarters which is the morning after pill and the fact that apparently for more than a year it has been available to young girls, as young as 13, without parental approval or with parental approval.
>> it's a pilot program . we've started it with five schools. expanded it to 13 schools this year and parents have an opt-out tradition. parents receive letters and have the ability to opt out for their child. roughly 2% of the parents, 1% or 2% have opted out. teenagers can go and be confidential around getting that type of access to the morning after pill. and what we've been able to do is show the importance of being really very aggressive as far as working with our students if they have a need to have that need available in these pilot schools, and again, our goal is to reduce the unwanted pregnancies that are taking place.
>> 7,000 unwanted pregnancies by the time girls are 17.
>> as you know from the research, i mean if you're having an unwanted pregnancy as a teenager you have a higher chance of living in poverty and our goal is to make sure our children are in school getting a quality education and the parents receive a letter and have the ability to opt out.
>> and when we have this kind of program, how -- what are the counter veiling pressures? hearing from religious leaders, getting push back.
>> this is new york city so you hear from everyone. when we announced our comprehensive sex ed program last year, i met with a number of religious leaders including the upcoming cardinal at that particular point and the bishops of new york and other religious leaders. we explained it. we said we would be respectful of their viewpoints but we have a responsibility to our students and so again, we try to enter into dialog with all the appropriate constituent communities and we have a responsibility to really focus on our students. it's not about the adults. it's about our students.
>> thank you so much. we're focusing on solutions on what works and it's -- dennis wolcott .
>> it happens all the time.
>> famous poet.
>> i know.
>> know bell --
>> i'm waiting for them to call derrick dennis one day and that will be my satisfaction.
>> thank you very much.
>> my pleasure.
>> dennis wolcott , mr. chancellor, thank you for being here.
>> thank you very much.