Tag Archives: snow

It Snows, and We Go

Yeahhhhh...no it isn't.

Yeahhhhh…no it isn’t.

This will be a brief little rant before, for the third time in 2014, I venture out into what the mayor of New York calls “hazardous” or “treacherous” travel conditions because my job requires it. See, I’m a teacher, and while all indications are generally that New Yorkers should stay indoors and only head out in emergencies, schools are still open because, as the new adage goes, “Kids have to eat.”

They do, of course. And if I’m a new mayor – Bill de Blasio – or schools chancellor – Carmen Fariña – doesn’t it sound great for me to show how much I care about the students’ wellbeing? Sure it does.

I’m not callous or ignorant enough to argue against this. There truly are kids who rely on school for their most complete meals of the day. But, there are other facts that can’t be ignored:

  • The logic behind warning about hazardous and treacherous travel conditions for “all” New Yorkers extends to our littlest ones, too. They’re walking on sidewalks still covered in ice (since no one seems too worried about enforcing the law about property owners shoveling their sidewalks in an appropriate amount of time). They’re riding buses on slick roads when officials are cautioning people to stay off the streets.
  • Many parents think it’s ridiculous to send their kids out into weather-related danger, so they opt to keep them home. Our snowstorms this year have resulted in roughly 65% student attendance across the city. Most teachers with half a brain know that if more than a third of the class is out, you put a hold on any new lessons.
  • Thousands of teachers are being put in harm’s way, too. I have colleagues who travel 20 miles to get to work. Even for me – I’m only five or six miles from my school – it’s an adventure. The main street by my apartment has not been a priority for plowing in any of the storms this year. It’s a mostly downhill trip from my building to the highway, so for about a mile, I’m crawling along (if I’m not skidding along). Furthermore, teachers who drive and work in dense areas, like I do, are contending with deplorable parking conditions on the streets as it is. There are mounds of snow that turned to mounds of ice and on a day like today, with all the new precipitation, getting out of those spots will be even worse.
  • Full-day storms like that one we’re expecting today, actually don’t just impact the morning commute for students and teachers. They affect the afternoon commute, too – you know, when everything’s even worse. No one ever seems to remember that. (This might explain why after-school programs haven’t been canceled, either).

Anyway, it’s getting late. Normally I wouldn’t be up for another 10 minutes. But, I was up at 4:10 today, expecting to hear that cooler heads prevailed in the Ivory Tower – I mean mayor’s office. I don’t know why I ever thought that.

Safe travels, everyone. Especially the kids.


NYC Gets it Right (Somewhat)

Here's what it looks like in New York at about 8:15 am.

I woke up half an hour earlier than usual this morning, expecting I’d be sludging my way to work today via the train, but several text messages from colleagues, as well as a glance at my Twitter feed revealed that, finally (and miraculously) the cooler heads in NYC government prevailed, and schools were closed.

Don’t expect me to jump up and down despite believing it was the right move. I am relieved that my students’ safety (and admittedly, my own and my colleagues’) is considerably increased. All news agencies are advising people to stay in if at all possible.

But, Chancellor Joel Klein hammered home exactly what we knew he believed, but should probably never admit publicly. This gem about Klein’s opinion of teachers and the purpose of schools was delivered live on CBS 2 television at about 6:05 this morning, after anchor Maurice DuBois asked Klein why snow days in NYC are so rare: “We like to keep the schools open…Our parents have to go to work, our kids have to learn.”

Well, gee. Thanks. That confirms what so many teachers already believe when it comes to the city’s opinion of us: we are glorified babysitters. Even according to the chancellor, the role of the school is 1) watch the kids while mom and dad go to work, and 2) teach those kids. That’s inspiring – we’re doing the work of a 12-year old.

And, may I ask something? What about all those kids without access to news agencies? There are kids in my school who speak limited English and live without phones, televisions, or radios. How are they being notified of the closings so close to the start of the school day? Is Bloomberg knocking on their doors? I have no question at all that kids will show up at school today and be turned away by locked doors. I just hope they have the sense and capacity to go back home safely.


I discovered two Twitter feeds last night: @NYCSchools and @NYCMayorsOffice. I’ll be following them, looking for an instantaneous peek into their perspectives on the issues that plague us as teachers. I’m looking forward to see if their tweets are as pompous as their press conferences and interviews.

Only at Gracie Mansion Won’t the Goings Be Treacherous

To no one’s surprise at all, Mayor Bloomberg has ordered the schools opened tomorrow (as reported by the NY Times and various other outlets). Thanks, Bloomy! I always love shlepping and shlipping over ice and snow when everyone with half a brain decides to stay inside. But never mind me or my colleagues – how about the kids?

I heard on the radio today that the morning commute tomorrow will be as bad as the ride home tonight, and believe me, it was bad. But hey, mobilze over 1 million people and staff who work or study in the schools. Why not? No danger there! Let the world’s biggest babysitting service go on.

Here Comes the Snow Again

UPDATE 7:08 pm: Spotted a colleague’s facebook status that says schools are definitely open tomorrow. It’s a train day, no question. Let’s see what happens for Friday. I’m legitimately worried for my students.

Batten down the hatches! Word is spreading through the school that the possibility of a Friday snow day exists. Yes, we are preparing here in the tri-state area for what they are calling a “snow hurricane.” FYI, we’re calling it a “snurricane” in our building. It’s supposed to begin raining tonight, which will mix with snow tomorrow morning, before turning solely into snow. This is supposed to linger until Saturday.

And then there’s the utterly ridonculous winds they are forecasting. I’ve heard anywhere from 35 to 88 miles per hour. That’s enough to make some of the kids blow away!

The last blizzard was one thing, but this snurricane is a whole other beast. Why risk it?

As you remember, when the blizzardly blast of a couple weeks ago descended upon NYC, our esteemed and ever concerned mayor did the right thing by closing schools in advance of the first flake. For once, he hit it – the snowball -out of the park. We were absolutely whalloped the next day. Of course, as you all know from reading here, Friday brought us back into work (transportation and safety issues be damned!), drawing the ire of just about every teacher I know who struggled through the snow like a one-legged gladiator through the gauntlet.

Now, with Snurricane Oh-Ten bearing down, Bloomberg has the chance to do right by our city’s children anew. By all accounts, the goings will be absolutely treacherous on Friday. No doubt limbs will be flying from trees (maybe even from bodies). Debris will cut through the air. It’s bad news. And it’s not something to mess around with.

Again, forget my stake in this – I lose when school is closed. But, for the love of all that is right in this world, spare the children and their families from the danger of the impending storm.

Snow Day Stinker

“Our expectation is that major streets will be totally cleared over night. And that will mean that city public schools will resume classes tomorrow. Sorry about that, for those that wanted another day off…We need to make sure that our kids get the education they need to enjoy the great American dream, and that means showing up in the classroom.”        – The Hon. Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Of course, in announcing his intention to open schools tomorrow, the mayor fails to take into account the reality that is digging out the car for the morning commute. (He missed a golden opportunity to plug the MTA here! WHY?)

This is the view from my door at about 8:40 pm, Feb. 10, 2010. Shoveling at this point is well, pointless.

After his sagacious announcement I immediately donned my boots, threw on my sweatshirt, zipped up my coat, and slipped into my gloves so I could dig out my car in advance of 4 am tomorrow (as Mayor Mike seems to expect teachers will). Seeing that it had been plowed past my windshield, I deduced that, given the still falling snow at 6 pm, it might not make much sense for me to overexert myself in the name of having to do it all over again tomorrow.

Mayor Mike may be fond of espousing the virtues of him riding the rails to City Hall each day (and today, the train was only 3/4 full, he told us!), but he failed to mention that he’s in all likelihood not the one digging the driveway out at Gracie Mansion.

Adding insult to injury, Bloomberg’s announcement was issued in a snide, condescending way. He smiled mockingly as he delivered the line apologizing to “those that wanted another day off.” Must be an inside joke he and his pal Klein were sharing, because the only sound you heard after that little doozy was the seething of every teacher in New York. Yes, we’re fully aware you don’t appreciate our value or our opinion, so PLEASE, BloomKlein, just rub our noses in it! We already know you think your teachers stink (DON”T THE TEST SCORES SHOW IT, AFTER ALL?) Please, please, PLEASE, continue to take every opportunity to broadcast that to the entire city and try to turn popular opinion against one of the most noble professions in the world and some of the most dedicated people working in the city.

If only for one day, Bloomberg could come down from his undeservedly high horse and situate himself in a teacher’s shoes. He takes only $1 in annual salary, but he more than makes up for it with the riches of his ignorance.

Don’t read this as a bitter teacher looking for another day off. Believe me when I say that days off benefit no one less than they do me.