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Klein faces wrath at Forest Hills meet

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"Lowering class size is important and it's part of my plan. We've got the largest capital plan by a mile, but you can't lower class size without space," Klein said, which was welcomed with approval. "We're short math and science teachers [citywide] and if you lower class size we'll be short more math and science teachers," he added, and the audience groaned."[Teacher] retention is more important than attraction," Klein said, which provoked incredulous laughter from the audience. "Some schools are very unstable. That's why it's very important how you lower class size. We need to create capacity in every school," he said.Two mothers complained about the rigidity of the curriculum, which some parents see as inadequate and overly rigid, and the questions for Klein became more heated."At the elementary level, teachers' hands are tied in how they approach their subject matter. We learned by memorization and that is not allowed," she said.Another mother said she sent her middle school daughter to Sylvan Christian School because she still does not know the multiplication tables, and that if she helps her daughter, the teacher says the approach is incorrect."If you don't have the foundation, how can you possibly learn to think" about more complex concepts, Klein countered.Parents and teachers asked what had happened to the talk of extending the school year; Klein said it had happened."There are additional days at the beginning of the school year, an extended school day and the Saturday Academy, which adds up to 15 additional days. We would like to create an extended year and extended day programs, but you can't do everything overnight," Klein said.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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