NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg sees nothing wrong with his flunkies having waited till 5:39 to decide whether or not to close school on Monday. That's not much of a surprise, as Mayor Mike has found little fault with anything his administration has done, and overturns the will of the voters about as easily as you or I take a drink of water.
"If you got up this morning, looked outside, and the question didn't come to you right away, 'Hmm, I wonder whether or not school is going to be open today,' and you didn't know enough to call 311, I would suggest another day in school's probably a good idea," the mayor said at a briefing.
"I mean, come on," he added. "Looking outside, it's a legitimate question, and you know how to get an answer."
I do indeed. That's why, when I woke up at 5 AM on Monday, the first thing I did was check whether city schools were open. There was no indication they weren't, so I prepared to go to work. And if I was doing that, so were hundreds or thousands of parents, teachers, and kids doing the same. But the city offered no answer, and the DoE's website suggested we wait for info. If you don't think people were scrambling to figure what to do, check out the comments right here.
I was stupid enough to get out a shovel to dig out my car. Like many of my colleagues, I've gone in on worse days. And a hundred kids were stupid enough to show up at our school, obviously suggesting their parents were stupid too. Several administrators were stupid enough to show up. In fact, one suburban teacher was stupid enough to bring a child whose school was closed. Stupid us, figuring that past precedent was worth heeding.
The defense for waiting till the last minute, unlike virtually every neighboring district, was that they've always done it that way. It's ironic that "reformers" would use an excuse like that, and it's obvious that 37 years of bad policy is poor defense for its deliberate continuation.
But actually, things are different. An astute colleague of mine pointed out that it's only recently they began opening schools at 7 AM. It's only recently that schools have become so overcrowded they need to keep them open till 5:30 PM. It's only recently they started loading up schools to 250% capacity.
It was not unreasonable for parents to complain they got no notice from this mayor. Not everyone has billions of dollars. Some of us, lacking live-in help, have to figure out what to do with our kids on days we work and they have no school.
Maybe that's what makes us stupid.