Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Careful What You Wish For

There are an awful lot of complaints about schools being open yesterday, and in fact there was a petition asking Mayor de Blasio to close the schools yesterday. It garnered over 40,000 signatures. Several of my members sent it to me. I work in Queens, where plowing streets is just a pipe dream, and I could see cars parked in all sorts of odd places yesterday. I could see students walking the middle of streets. It probably was not a good idea, and a whole lot of my colleagues, being smarter than I am, didn't show up at all.

My students, being ELLs, mostly showed up. There were only two students absent from my morning class of 28. Other teachers I spoke with told me they had 8 or 10 kids in their classes. The trailers, of course, were closed so we had hundreds of kids sitting in the auditorium, a place so strangely fixed for sound that I find anything resembling teaching to be impossible. So there are a lot of reasons it would've been a good idea to close the schools yesterday.

But there is one other consideration that may have eluded a lot of people, and I reminded my members who emailed me the petition. Because we are now off for both Eid and Lunar New Year, the NYC school calendar can only allow one snow day before we have to start making days up. So if yesterday were the day, that would be pretty much it.

I've gotten mixed reactions from the members who complained and sent me the petitions. Most said they were glad we didn't burn the day, as they were not inclined to use vacation days for things other than vacation. One said she would prefer coming in on a day when driving weren't hazardous, when kids weren't at risk, when she didn't have to fight hundreds of people for a parking spot, when she didn't have to improvise one that the happy-go-lucky school-based cop may or may not ticket her for.

I guess I voted by showing up. I won't argue with anyone who says those who didn't are smarter than I am. I'll just say that, after an entire day of shoveling snow, much of which was turned to slush after the inevitable street flooding we enjoy in South Freeport, I felt I needed to get my money's worth. I needed to pull my car out of that cleaned driveway and take it somewhere, i.e., to work. After all, sometimes in life, a man has to make the supreme sacrifice and go to work.

A better alternative, IMHO, may have been to utilize the delayed opening. You know, that's the thing we negotiated some time during Mike Bloomberg's tenure as Emperor, and used precisely once, during the transit strike. The thing is, when there are hazardous conditions, that makes sense. Expecting sense, of course, here in Fun City may be beyond the pale. A guidance counselor told me it took her almost a half hour to find a spot, and was on the verge of turning around when she finally nailed one. Like me, she came in an hour early. A teacher told me he skidded into a red light camera and was expecting a ticket for it. Told him to fight it via internet, but who knows?

What do you think? Would you rather we'd placed safety first, like reasonable people, and closed the schools? Would you do absolutely anything to protect your days off? Or is there a middle ground?
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