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Feb. 10 2010 - 10:26 am | 76 views | 1 recommendation | 6 comments

Snow days, damned if you do…

Snow Day!!

Image by chanchan222 via Flickr

Some day, I’m going to write a novel that opens with a harried superintendent, up at 4 a.m. wrestling with the hardest decision he or she will ever make. To close or not to close?

Ah, the beloved snow day.

Kids love them. Parents hate them — sometimes. If the call is made and snow doesn’t materialize, parents who raced around trying to get last-minute childcare are livid. But if buckets of snow fall and school isn’t canceled, the same parents curse the decision as they imagine buses turned sideways on icy roads. My own mild-mannered mother never stopped resenting a superintendent who failed to close the schools during an ice storm that caused fender-benders aplenty and left many kids with bruises and broken bones as they tried to walk home.

And then there’s the regional muscle flexing. Those of us in northern climes get a huge chuckle every time those lightweights down South prepare for the Amageddon when a mere dusting is expected. C’mon people! You don’t need to buy enough food to feed a small country just because the forecast calls for two inches. We say things like, “When I was a kid, I walked miles to and from school in several feet of snow, and it was uphill, both ways.”

But who’s laughing now? President Obama showed his Chicago machismo last year when he tut-tutted the residents of the nation’s capitol for closing the schools for a minor snowfall. Flinty, he said. They need to be more flinty.

We’re  going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this,” he said. “I’m saying, when it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don’t seem to be able to handle things.”

via For once, D.C. area gets some respect for coping with snow – washingtonpost.com.

Hmm. Are they flinty enough now?

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg made the call early yesterday, much to the glee of schoolchildren given the gift of a day off. Of course, there were a few grumblers: It’s 40 degrees and sunny, why’s he shutting down now? But most older folks were happy to have advance warning, like this guy:

“It’s so hard to predict,” said Roderick Romero, 44, a treehouse designer who lives in the East Village. “The last storm was nowhere near as bad as they thought, but it does give us a lot more time to make plans.”

via In New York, Closing Schools a Day Ahead for Snow Is Rare – NYTimes.com.

Can I just say, where else but the East Village would you find a treehouse designer? Man, if I had only known, I wouldn’t be writing about snow days right now, but would be sipping a latte in my cliffside aerie.

Back to snow days. We haven’t had a single one this year, and most schools in my part of  Massachusetts are simply closing early today. It was the right call, and the kids will take what they can get. Well, some kids will. Remember the “snot-nosed brat” boy who called his superintendent at home last year to complain that school wasn’t canceled? The real storm happened after that phone call. Enjoy!


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  1. collapse expand

    Not that you asked, but we are up to four snow days this (K-12) academic year in Sioux Falls. That represents more days off than the prior five years, combined. Kids are loving it! Much rather have that call than the one a couple years ago when the bus had skidded off the icy roads and hit a tree. After ensuring that kids were OK, boy did I give the District a earful!

  2. collapse expand

    Hey, we’re still flinty in Chicagoland. Some of us had about 14 inches of snow yesterday and the schools remained open. Here’s a funny clip made by some suburban Chicago high school students about how the decision gets made to cancel classes. http://www.youtube.com/user/Barrington220

  3. collapse expand

    I never understood our “superintendent”’s decision process regarding snow days. Yesterday, in the town of my college, we went through a heavy snow storm beginning at 4am lasting throughout the whole day.

    Instead of closing campus for the day, they decide to let morning classes continue and close campus at 2pm. Just an hour before the storm was said to get worse. Luckily, my Neuroscience teacher realized the ridiculousness of this decision and canceled our 1pm class.

    Now today the campus was flat-out closed since this morning, but we received little to no snow fall today. I understand its unpredictable, but come on. Either way, though, I’m a student and any snow day is a good day for me. (Gave me time to study for a very important exam that was pushed off!)

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    I spent a good chunk of my adult life as an arts reporter/critic/columnist for the Boston Globe. Among other things, I covered the cultural wars of the early 1990s (remember Mapplethorpe?), reviewed theater, and profiled all sorts of interesting characters. I also wrote an early column about online culture, which led me to become one of the first online war correspondents during the conflict in Kosovo, an odd but exhilarating gig for an arts maven. While I was a fellow in the National Arts Journalism program, a colleague handed me a gloomy article called “Print is Dead.” I eventually got the message and took a buyout from the Globe in 2001. I had vague dreams of saving the world, but instead had three kids in 17 months. Therein lies my newfound interest in public education. I am hoping to create a dialogue about what’s wrong, what’s right, and what’s up in our schools today.

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