Walking In The Winter Wasteland
So far, 2014 has proven to be a record breaking year with the massive amounts of snow fall and the extreme cold temperatures engulfing the states. From the Midwest, to the Southeast and along the northeast states everyone seems to be experiencing an unusual winter. But the big uproar, more than the subzero temperatures and mass amounts of snow has been the number of school days that have been cancelled due to the weather. Here in Michigan many of the school districts have already reached their allotted limit of snow days, and we still have about a month of the winter season to go. Plus, if you know anything about the erratic weather here in Michigan, you know that you can expect an ice storm as late as April (I remember it happened a couple of times in the 90s). So, now everybody’s attention is turning to the districts and how they will make up the days and hours of instructions. There are about two to three viable options here: 1) extend the school day for a certain amount of weeks until the required hours are met; 2) cut down some of the days of the spring break and other scheduled off days; 3) extend the school year further into the summer.
The thing is some of the days the schools closed were due to the temperatures being below zero with wind chill factors reaching as far down as 40 degrees below zero. It was considered dangerous temperatures and not safe for anyone to be outside for more than a couple of minutes at a time. In these temperatures frost bite could happen in mere seconds. The question, however, is this: have the schools used these weather days too liberally, and too soon? The schools contend they closed schools because they had the best interest of the children in mind. And they proceeded to give these scenarios of 5 and 6 year olds waiting for buses, not being properly dressed, etc. But this begs the question: What about the parents who work and have to take their child out in the weather, rain or shine, snow or heat, cold or sleet? In my case, I still had to bundle up my child and take him to his aunt’s house so I could make it to my job, because corporate America generally does not have weather days. So, since he had to be out anyway, why could I have not taken him to school? I get the point about the children that have to be bussed back and forth, but some of those same children were on the bus on those same frigid mornings getting to a designated babysitter so mom and dad could go make money to provide for the household.
Then the facts came out: in order for a school day to count toward the required amount of instruction days and hours there has to be at least 70% attendance. So perhaps the districts felt like they had 31% or more of the children that would not show up for the day due to extreme weather? Bottom line is we probably will never know the true story behind what makes them call a weather day on those days when the reasoning is less obvious to the general public. And then you listen to the schools in places like Alaska where subzero temperatures are the norm and the children are out playing at recess in that kind of weather, even during the dark periods there. Couple that with the scientist that say we can expect more extreme winters in the coming years, and perhaps it all points to the fact that schools here should invest in a better plan to embrace the cold. Maybe on those extreme cold days have provisions to open up the schools earlier and stage the children in a holding area (think latchkey or school aged child care program provided by many schools for a small fee). If it is a concern about children not being properly dressed for the weather could the school partner up with community organization to provide for those who may not be able to afford proper coats, boots, hats and gloves and see if something can be done about helping those in need. Point is we need a better plan of action than merely shutting down the schools for days at a time. We will wait and see how the rest of the winter plays out and how missed instruction time will be made up.
Another thing that has raised many eyebrows is the new gender rules of Facebook. According to the popular social networking site, gender no longer falls into 2 categories. It falls into 51! Apparently, a person’s gender is as unique as their fingerprint. It’s not about what you were born… not even about what or who you currently live your life as. It’s about what you truly feels define you as a person, if you even decide to be defined at all, because you can choose “neither” as a gender now on Facebook. Is this a sign of the times we live in? Is it a gimmick to generate even more attention and publicity for the website? Or is it merely a progression towards acceptance and true identity? Has this recent change caused you to evaluate how you wish to be defined and change your profile to reflect this? Let me know. I’m interested in hearing your feedback.
Thanks for coming by. Spread the word. Have a topic you’d like to see discussed here? Let me know. Come back Thursday for another of my two cents.