This one hurt.
If childhood affords few experiences more pleasurable than that of waking up to a snow day, it holds fewer disappointments more crushing than having a snow day snatched from your giddy grasp.
Perhaps, children, you’re wondering if you were somehow partly to blame. Maybe you got overconfident when the mayor declared a weather emergency before the first flakes had even fallen Tuesday evening, urging drivers off the roads.
Maybe you considered the snow day such a sure thing you neglected to perform the pajamas-on-backwards-leave-a-spoon-under-the-pillow-and-flush–ice-cubes-down-the-toilet ritual.
Whatever the reason, a city full of public schoolchildren awoke to a masterpiece of cognitive dissonance: 9 inches of winter wonderland out the window, and the caffeinated voice on the news radio ordering them to class.
The kids were upset. And the main target of their wrath was that two-faced mayor.
“I got mad at Mayor Bloomberg because he lets his kids walk like this on ice and snow,” said Kaitlyn Velazquez, a fourth grader on her way to Public School 166 in Long Island City, Queens.
To be sure, a lot of students did stay home, whether in protest or because of transit problems (of which there were few). Only 46 percent of schoolchildren showed up for school, about half the number who came to school last Wednesday, when the weather was fine. But those that did were fuming in their chairs.
On Twitter, where the older children go, the language was saltier than a coddled sidewalk, but the sentiment was the same as 9-year-old Kaitlyn’s.
“I know all those kids that had to go school today wish that bloomberg fell on that snow,” read the printable portion of a Twitter post by kathy890.
Those with an adolescent’s ear for injustice recognized bitter irony. “I could commit a crime and be safe in prison or I could go to school and risk my life,” wrote Fox_Fortune. “Good message bloomberg!”
But listen up kids, it was for your own good. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said so.
“Our kids are better off in school,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday, noting that parents who can’t find day care on snow days often have to miss work. His schools chancellor, Cathleen P. Black, had reached the same conclusion. “The last thing we’re going to do is close schools and put 1.1 million children wandering around with nothing to do,” she said.
And just because they canceled school twice last year doesn’t mean that it’s routinely done. Sit down now for a brief history lesson. During a 31-year stretch from 1978, when your dad was in knee pants, to 2009, the New York City public schools racked up a whopping total of three snow days. In 31 years!
Maybe kids were tougher back in Dad’s day, is that it? Don’t you want to be tougher than those private-school kids, many, if not most, of whom got the day off? Of course you do.
More mature children accepted the mayor’s decision as an opportunity for personal growth.
“if there’s school, there’s school,” SorinnaStyles wrote on Twitter. She tossed an obscenity the mayor’s way, then added, “but people like me should step up in school!”
Even some students who gave in to anger benefited from the experience: it got them to care, for the day at least, about politics and politicians. In a moment, a generation found its voice and its issue. There were calls for Mr. Bloomberg’s defeat from the office he has held for some of his younger constituents’ entire conscious lives. Indeed, his face is so ubiqutous as The Mayor that many children seem to assume that he will still be running for office when they reach voting age. Should that happen to be true, he seems to have lost a few votes on Wednesday, the Snow Day That Almost Was.
“Bloomberg. U ain’t gonna get any vote from me,” ikavin wrote on Twitter.
At Elisabeth Irwin High School, a private school in the West Village that followed the mayor’s lead and stayed open, the school library’s Twitter feed reported from the trenches: “We have school! Students talking abt staging a coup, taking down Bloomberg’s anti-snowday platform.”
Inevitably, though, the reality of another day at school took hold, the library’s Twitter feed reported: “Start of homeroom dissolved revolution.”
Tim Stelloh and Rebecca White contributed reporting.
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