Friday, March 06, 2009

Mr. Bloomberg Makes a Clarification

Sometimes, when you're the mayor of a big city, you have to explain what you mean. For example, Mayor Bloomberg explained that when he said he would get rid of trailers instead of classrooms by 2012, what he really meant was he would not get rid of trailers instead of classrooms by 2012.

Now a lot of people took exception when they saw this quote from hizzoner:

"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."

Understandably, a lot of parents were upset by this language. It certainly sounds as though he's calling them a bunch of knuckle-draggers. After all, the decision to close the schools didn't hit the media till almost 6 AM, and what with the rampant overcrowding that's accompanied this mayor's "reforms," a lot of schools open at 7, including mine. That's why a hundred kids showed up at our school.

But one of the mayor's spokespersons has "clarified" Mr. Bloomberg's statement for us, according to Manhattan PEP rep Patrick Sullivan. On a comments page of NYC Public School Parents, Sullivan writes:

...the AP coverage of the mayor's comments included this update: "An aide tried to backtrack later and insisted that Bloomberg was referring only to teachers, and not to students or parents."

This, to me, is incredible. According to the revisionist history of the Bloomberg PR machine, the mayor did not mean to include the hundreds of thousands of parents and kids who were confused by his failure to provide adequate notice. Even if you believe this highly improbably interpretation, what it clearly suggests is that it's unacceptable to ridicule parents and students for mistakes that are none of their doing.

On the other hand, it also suggests that it's fine to ridicule people who get up every morning to teach children. That's a disgrace. As a teacher, as a parent who respects teachers, I'm disgusted by Mayor Bloomberg's remarks. Mayor Bloomberg owes the city an apology. Instead, we get a variation on, "I meant only to ridicule teachers, so it's no big deal."

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