Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why I'm Glad Schools Are Open During the Storm

Well, they have done it again. Despite forecasts calling for 8-12 inches of snow -from a powerful Nor'Easter- the New York City Schools are open today.

The  announcement caused some anger from teachers through social media which included an accusation that the administration was putting teachers, parents and students in harm's way by 'making' them travel during a storm.

I've traveled to work from my suburban home during every snowstorm so far. I've seen accidents I  never thought I would see and have experienced commutes that were longer than a Bollywood trilogy. And boy oh boy have I come to the limitations of my four wheel drive vehicle. So I know exactly what these folks are talking about when they talk about dangerous commutes during a storm.

Having said that, I'm glad they opened schools today. I believe Chancellor Fariña when she says that school is the only place where some children can get a hot meal. I also believe her when she asserts that parents, who still have to get to work today, don't needed their schedules placed in further upheaval by having to find a sitter at the last minute.

I would also like to add that with 46% of New Yorkers living in poverty, and many more living in the ranks of the working poor, missing one day of work because schools are closed and no sitter can be found, equates to missing one day's worth of pay. For many parents and families, that one day makes the difference between paying the rent or not.

Most importantly; the 'Great Winter of 2014', with its many snowstorms and frigid temperatures, has created an enormous amount of upheaval for the entire metropolitan area. Upheaval is the enemy of a good education and schools represent a type of consistency in children's lives that helps to negate that. Everyone (children and adults alike) need consistency during times like these. If for no other reason, schools should be open as a towering symbol reminding us all that this is New York and life here doesn't stop because of a few inches of snow (even of it is a few inches twice a week that then freezes and becomes these ice mountains that ruin shoes as well as snow shovels).

And for all those folks out there, who cry -cry!- about the roads being dangerous and children being placed at risk because schools were kept open, let me remind you that you don't have to go in. With schools open, parents can choose to keep their children home if they want and teachers, as well as most school staff, can take a full paid day off if they choose. I myself am not going in today because I simply can't do another seven hour commute. But I realize that that's my choice and I'm not going to whine and complain because the day has to come out of my CAR. No one is forcing anyone to go to travel to work or school during a storm.

But school during a storm is now an option for many families who might need that option available to them. And that's important -well worth the day in my CAR.

14 years and 42 miles to my classroom; my two cents.

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