Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Snow Days, Parents and Teachers


For teachers, snow days are the greatest gift short of brilliant, well-behaved students.  For working parents with children too young to stay home alone, they are a case study in managing priorities.  As a home-school mom and university instructor, they are pretty much meaningless, because they don't usually affect whether I teach or not.  Today is an exception.

First, some background.  Back in the early 1990's, a local public school superintendent checked the business at local Blockbuster stores to see how many teachers were able to drive to rent movies on snow days.  There were a sufficient number of rentals for the superintendent to change policy, requiring teachers to report to schools on days when children were out for snow days.  The result of this was teachers sitting in offices with  not much to do, complaining about having to be at the school, and worrying about the children they had left at home.  Morale was low and children were unattended.

Today, local schools and other businesses have closed all over Omaha because we are anticipating a blizzard.  As of now, 9:30 in the morning, there is no snow on the ground, and no snow falling.  The latest guesses from our esteemed weather forecasters suggest snow will start falling at 4:00 this afternoon, when school children would presumably be home.

But in today's culture, those children would not be home.  Parents expect schools to provide breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, after-school sports, tutoring, child-care, and more, leaving their children in the hands of poorly paid women, and occasionally men, so that they can be away from their children from sun-up to sun-down.  Even the teachers and care-givers have their own children cared for and taught by someone else while they care for and teach the children from another family.

Does this strike anyone else as insane?

Since I'm sitting at home, well stocked for the snow to begin, looking at a dry, snow-less backyard, I am wondering if other teachers and parents are relaxing into the snow day.  Snow days used to be a gift.  A chance to spend unexpected quiet time with our children.  Shovel the drive.  Have a snowball fight.  Build a snowman.  Provided you actually have snow on your snow day.

Let's not punish our children for their existence on a snow day.  The snow day is not a burden, it is an unexpected chance to enjoy our families.  Snow or no snow, relax, reflect.  Enjoy.

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