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The Snow-bama Factor: Is D.C. Proving Its Flint?

So far today, the leader of the free world has not yet issued his judgment on how well Washingtonians are handling an event that even Chicagoans would have to agree qualifies as "snow."

But President Obama need not say another word about Washington's wussy attitude toward winter weather; the power of his message on a distinctly unsnowy day in January is still with us.

Witness this morning's decision by the D.C. public schools to break with every other district in the region and remain open, albeit with a two-hour delay. On neighborhood sled slopes in northwest Washington this morning, the eternal rivalry between public and private schools played out in friendly jibes: The kids from private schools, nearly all of which shut down, ragged their public school counterparts for having to go to school today, while the public school kids (who were supposed to be in class) defended their system as hardier and, well, flintier.

That's not how some D.C. school teachers saw the decision. They thought it was dumb bordering on irresponsible to force teachers, especially those who live in the suburbs, to find a way into work this morning. "Their contempt for teachers is sad but their contempt for the student population is reprehensible," said Bryon Sweeney, a special ed teacher at Shaw Middle School, arguing that slippery sidewalks made it hard for some kids to get to class.

In an open letter to Mayor Adrian Fenty and schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Sweeney spoke for many teachers when he said that "Teachers with children cannot afford to live in the city because we are not paid enough so we must commute. So our families are home and we must risk life and limb to make it to a school that will be half full at best."

Some parents, too, seemed less than thrilled by the decision to open school. At the charter school in Shaw that his daughter attends, Ed Bruske (a former Washington Post reporter), says he found the door locked at 11 a.m. "We rang the bell and were greeted by a volunteer teacher's assistant who said only two other students had arrived. The only other people there were the janitor, two other volunteer teacher assistants--co-eds from Japan who barely speak English--and a teacher who'd 'gone off to the Rite Aid.'"

The school was so ill-prepared to be open that immediately after Bruske got home from dropping off his child, "she was already on the phone saying we need to come back and pick her up. The school was closing."

The irony here, of course, is that as Rhee and her fellow administrators sought to prove to the president or to themselves just how flinty they are, the actual targets of Obama's joshing were perfectly happy to shut their doors yet again. Sidwell Friends School, the private school on Wisconsin Avenue NW (with an elementary school in Bethesda) where the Obama children are enrolled, was shut tight today. Sidwell has made it clear that it has no intention of behaving according to Chicago weather standards. Washington wussiness suits the Quakers just fine.

At least one D.C. teacher/blogger argues that there is a legitimate reason for keeping the city's schools open when all others schools close--the large number of children who depend on school for their breakfast and lunch.

Even though I am a snow day hardliner who believes that if you aren't measuring the snowfall in feet, you ought to stay open, I buy that argument. But I'm sorry, Mr. Sweeney--just because some teachers live far away is not a good reason to close schools. Teachers in city schools ought to live in the city (an increasing number of them do), just as the big suburban counties go to great lengths to try to make it affordable for their teachers to live in those counties (the operative word there is "try;" housing prices in MoCo and Fairfax make that downright impossible for many teachers.)

Schools exist not solely to impart information and concepts. They are a key element in our social structure, and part of the compact between schools and society is that schools will be a place where kids can go while their parents are working. So on a day like today, when nearly everyone still has to go to work, it's reasonable for parents to expect that their kids' schools will be open.

But this is also a delightful snow, a welcome late punctuation mark on an otherwise grimly snowless season. Therefore, I'd like to see schools adopt something that government mastered long ago--the concept of liberal leave. Open up the schools on a day of real snow for those who want or need to be there, but let those families that choose sledding over science do so without teachers or administrators getting bent out of shape.

Meanwhile, this whole discussion is, sadly, a lesson for the new president: Unfortunately, we're such a sensitive bunch in this country that the guy can't even get off a friendly bit of joking about relative attitudes toward the weather without folks getting all serious on him. Rhee and friends may deny it, but if you don't think Obama's remarks played a role in the decision to stay open today, you haven't seen just how jittery politicians and school administrators get about any expression of the big boss's thoughts.

So, looking forward: Anyone want to bet that some area school districts concoct an excuse to stay closed Tuesday?

By Marc Fisher |  March 2, 2009; 2:04 PM ET
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Comments

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The arrogance of Fisher's demanding that DC teachers live in DC is astonishing. DC does everything in its power to see that its teachers, and a whole lot of other city employees, must live beyond its boundaries.

Out of curiosity, where does Marc Fisher live?

Posted by: TommyMcGuire | March 2, 2009 2:30 PM

Care for a little cheese with your whine? C'mon, you're Washington DC! The World's Most Self-Important City! Buck up and take that hill, soldier.

Posted by: Nurse_Tabby | March 2, 2009 2:40 PM

Fisher gives the impression that the DC schools are bowing to Obama, when in fact the DC schools [public that is not the wimps at Sidwell et al] were open for classes the day that Obama mocked the private schools and the suburbs for closing. Keep it up DCPS.

Posted by: JohnMike | March 2, 2009 2:44 PM

I was skeptical at first. My preschool daughter and I spent the morning shovelling the walk and driveways and making the world's fattest, most out of shape snowman. By the time we were finished, our side street was clear (we live in Anacostia) and the main arteries were almost dry. We made it to school with no problem, except for avoiding pedestrians who were walking in the street, despite the fact that the sidewalks were clear.

Her teacher lives in MoCo and didn't make it in.

Posted by: hoos3014 | March 2, 2009 2:47 PM

This entry by Fisher borders on nonsensical. I know that we're all joking about the Obama remark, but who would honestly think that a school system would base their non-closing on it? DC public schools hardly ever close. Today was not an exception - though I think the snow was serious enough (especially during rush hour) that a closing would have been justified.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 2, 2009 2:55 PM

I understand Mr. Fisher's point, but he seems to simply dismiss Mr. Sweeney's legitimate argument--that DC teachers simply can't afford to live in DC--with the retorical equivalent of "nu-uh." Sorry, Mr. Fisher, but you'll need to do better than that.

Posted by: jbs280 | March 2, 2009 3:29 PM

Marc - I heard from a HoCo teacher that it's a safe bet their public schools will be closed tomorrow due to concern about ice.

Posted by: stodge | March 2, 2009 3:32 PM

Snow days are too frequent and students suffer. Schools should have a liberal leave policy it would really be nice for parents who have to work and nowhere to leave their children. Buck-up.

Posted by: rlj1 | March 2, 2009 3:42 PM

A word in favor of our teachers. No Mr. Fisher - teachers cannot afford to live in their school districts. Sample A: the teacher (my son), is a male head of family with 2 children under school age themselves. It is more economical for the wife to stay and home and take care of kids than to work and pay for childcare. My son cannot afford to live in Montgomey County where he teaches, (or could be DC - same result). His option was to buy a 2 bedroom rowhouse that cost $209,000 in Baltimore instead. Try that drive at 5:30 in the morning! Teachers deserve a snow day off too! Oh - and remeber that in Mont. Co. the teachers agreed to forego their salary increase due to the recession, and now the Dept of Education is threatening longer school years. Teachers are people too.

Posted by: natalia1 | March 2, 2009 4:00 PM

Et tu Brute?

Why would you write this, Marc?

Like Obama, I am a former Chicagoan.

Unlike you, Rhee, Obama and Fenty, I do not believe that this region needs to "toughen up" when it comes to snow. I do not believe that any of you have thought about the uniqueness of the Washington area and its workers.

Chicago is located in one county (Cook County) in one state, has a history of snow, and one unified response to snow removal. (The same is true of Buffalo, NY, Philly, and NYC.)

In contrast, the Washington area is comprised of the District, 2 states (3 states if you count West Va) and several different counties. The states and the District allocate different resources to snow removal and equipment, and cannot have one unified response. Those who work in the Washington area may live very far from where they work (and there are varied reasons for so doing), and may not live near a major roadway that has been cleared of snow. There are people who work in DC who live in Loudon County, VA, Baltimore, MD or Hagerstown,WV and each area has a different response to clearing streets and sidewalks. Likewise, there are people who live in DC but work in the suburbs, and cannot reach their jobs either.

Your argument that teachers should simply live in DC, doesn't help. If a teacher lives in upper NW DC and is nowhere near a Metro, and works in NE DC and is nowhere near a Metro, that teacher will still have a problem with the commute.

Unlike, Chicago, it makes sense to close the schools, government, and other businesses in the Washington area for a day or so when this kind of snow hits the region, so that the District, the states and counties can have a chance to clear the snow from sidestreets, as well as major streets, homeowners can have a chance to shovel their sidewalks so that kids and teachers can reach the bus stops, etc.

Marc, you've lived here for a while, so I'm sure that you remember when Maryland ran out of money for snow removal a couple of years ago. So, I can't believe that you would jump on this bandwagon.

I have two questions for all of you who think that the Washington area should "toughen up": Have you ever stood in the cold and falling snow, waiting for a public bus that never arrived, and then given up and trudged through unshoveled sidewalks to reach finally reach a Metro station (or L station in Chicago)? Do you think that teachers and kids should do that?

Posted by: yvette20 | March 2, 2009 4:01 PM

President Obama made his comments this year, and Fenty is operating the same way he did last year before the comments were made. If you can remember DC schools were opened the day the comment was made.

Posted by: Nick20 | March 2, 2009 4:07 PM

"They thought it was dumb bordering on irresponsible to force teachers, especially those who live in the suburbs, to find a way into work this morning."

I find it dumb, bordering on racist, that teachers in the DCPS don't live where they work.

Posted by: bs2004 | March 2, 2009 4:16 PM

in response to:
I have two questions for all of you who think that the Washington area should "toughen up": Have you ever stood in the cold and falling snow, waiting for a public bus that never arrived, and then given up and trudged through unshoveled sidewalks to reach finally reach a Metro station (or L station in Chicago)? Do you think that teachers and kids should do that?

yes and yes in both dc and buffalo ny

you bring up a good point about multiple states and counties, but.....that would mean there should be an across the board snow removal system

Posted by: nall92 | March 2, 2009 4:44 PM

No teacher who doesn't live in the community can be truly invested in the community's children. I had DCPS teachers tell me to my face, knowing me and knowing I was a parent of a DC Kid about the stereotypical behavior of DC kids that were unlike (guffaw) their home in PG County. Quite simply, residency within district MUST be a requirement to keep the teachers invested in the community.

Ever hear a PG-dwelling DCPS teacher whine about Michelle Rhee? I have. Inexcusable behavior! Inexcusable!

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 4:48 PM

Someone (or more) will die or be injured and then Mr. Fisher will agree that it is dangerous and unnecessary to prove how brave he wants us all to be. Then they will be reasonable. But who will pay the price?

Posted by: gary4books | March 2, 2009 4:54 PM

"They are a key element in our social structure, and part of the compact between schools and society is that schools will be a place where kids can go while their parents are working. So on a day like today, when nearly everyone still has to go to work, it's reasonable for parents to expect that their kids' schools will be open."

Really Marc????????

What's next, childless citizens should just expect to work more than those with children, becuase you know they don't have anything better to do. Maybe there should be special "parent lanes" next to the "Hot" lanes on the beltway so, those citizens that breed can speed, ... home that is.

Posted by: nfb987 | March 2, 2009 5:10 PM

And here in lies the problems. All I see is a bunch of worthless teachers concerned with them self's not the children. I am 100% behind the decision and any teachers that failed to come in to work should be fired tomorrow morning. This would only lead to a better school system. DC public schools suffer from EOE poisoning.

Posted by: askgees | March 2, 2009 5:13 PM

Mr. Fischer while your point about schools being a key element of the social structure is true; as an elementary teacher that had to go into school today to babysit and feed the 20 students that did show up out of 350, I can say from first-hand knowledge that having school open today was absolutely ridiculous. And as to your argument that DC teachers should live in DC, well I do but the roads were atrocious and feeding students should not come at the risk of my life and limb.

Perhaps the next time it snows 3-6 inches you should venture out of your warm home to drive on the treacherous side streets to get to any of the inner city schools and help feed the 20-30 students that will show up. Perhaps then you would understand that keeping DC schools open to feed the few students that do come in does not make sense.

Posted by: dcteacher09 | March 2, 2009 5:15 PM

"Open up the schools on a day of real snow for those who want or need to be there, but let those families that choose sledding over science do so without teachers or administrators getting bent out of shape."

Wow, really? And should students whose parents choose "sledding over science" be excused from tests that were scheduled for those days as well? Whether schools are open or closed is a decision for the district... but if they're open, and teachers are told to report and carry on with the business of educating, then there's no reason why students who live vastly nearer should be excused.

Posted by: MockingbirdGirl | March 2, 2009 5:20 PM

Teachers ought to live in DC, eh? Yeah, of course. Where do you live? Until you know what its like to live in the majority of DC which might be characterized as less-than-ideal to many people, don't tell people to live here. Its a dangerous and violent place over most of the city, and the nice parts are simply unaffordable to most of us. Fenty and Rhee and the rest of the elites can afford posh digs, but most of the rest of have to contend with constant crime and violence. I would therefore never blithely say that people should just live here, especially when they have kids.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | March 2, 2009 5:23 PM

A word in favor of our teachers. No Mr. Fisher - teachers cannot afford to live in their school districts. Sample A: the teacher (my son), is a male head of family with 2 children under school age themselves. It is more economical for the wife to stay and home and take care of kids than to work and pay for childcare. My son cannot afford to live in Montgomey County where he teaches, (or could be DC - same result). His option was to buy a 2 bedroom rowhouse that cost $209,000 in Baltimore instead. Try that drive at 5:30 in the morning! Teachers deserve a snow day off too! Oh - and remeber that in Mont. Co. the teachers agreed to forego their salary increase due to the recession, and now the Dept of Education is threatening longer school years. Teachers are people too.


Or maybe their smart enough to know living in DC eventually may lead to death. The reason they don't live in the city is because they choose not to. It has nothing to do with the cost of living. If that were the case then DC wouldn't be full of unemployed welfare collecting people on the eastern seaboard. DC is the epitome of apathy.

Posted by: askgees | March 2, 2009 5:24 PM

"Therefore, I'd like to see schools adopt something that government mastered long ago--the concept of liberal leave. Open up the schools on a day of real snow for those who want or need to be there, but let those families that choose sledding over science do so without teachers or administrators getting bent out of shape."

??? So what happens when the teachers decide to stay home to go sledding, while the kids in their class show up for class?? In government, when people stay at home, they usually still work -- just remotely. Teachers can't teach the school kids remotely.

You must have a pretty easy life if you have the option of going sledding on a snow day.

Posted by: allthat | March 2, 2009 5:35 PM

DCPS teachers need to realize that they don't live in Florida - and plan accordingly. This could mean keeping winter tires on the car from Dec-Mar or car pooling into the city with a neighbor with a 4x4 or just allowing an extra hour for the day's commute. 90%+ of those folks in the DC area made it to work today, no reason that DCPS teachers should be an exception - esp. with a 2 hour delay.

Posted by: jph11 | March 2, 2009 5:36 PM

In response to the many comments that 1) one be truly invested in DC kids if one does not choose to live in DC (or they're racist) or 2) that the teachers that did not come in should be fired (since they're a product of EOE anyway): Really? Really!

1) I have many colleagues that live outside of the city and stay just as late as I do even though they have a much longer commute because they are invested in their students. Perhaps the city should make it more affordable to live in the city.

2) That is a borderline racist. Many of my white colleagues did not come into work today. Should they be fired? Or because they are not a product of EOE they should get a free pass. Ugh!

Posted by: dcteacher09 | March 2, 2009 5:36 PM

Three to six inches of snow paralyzes the District? What a bunch of wimps!

It's not difficult to figure this out -- start your drive in from the burbs EARLY early and drive SLOWLY.

I guess if Al Qaeda comes up with a Super-Soaker-Sno-Machine our government is toast!

DAStubbs,
Minneapolis, MINNESOTA

Posted by: dastubbs | March 2, 2009 5:42 PM

Mr. Fischer while your point about schools being a key element of the social structure is true; as an elementary teacher that had to go into school today to babysit and feed the 20 students that did show up out of 350, I can say from first-hand knowledge that having school open today was absolutely ridiculous. And as to your argument that DC teachers should live in DC, well I do but the roads were atrocious and feeding students should not come at the risk of my life and limb.
Perhaps the next time it snows 3-6 inches you should venture out of your warm home to drive on the treacherous side streets to get to any of the inner city schools and help feed the 20-30 students that will show up. Perhaps then you would understand that keeping DC schools open to feed the few students that do come in does not make sense.
Posted by: dcteacher09 | March 2, 2009 5:15 PM

Here's how it works for the really stupid teachers. And lets face it, they expect snow days. What would you expect from someone who chose a profession where they have summers off. My guess is SLACKERS.
You have a job, getting to and from is your problem not ours. This is true for ALL. If making it to work on time is a problem then you should simply quit. Don't ask the rest of the community to take off a day because you don't feel you should be required to do what the rest of us have to. You are no one special. So take you're azz to work or find a new job. Is that simple enough for you?

Since when does 2 inches of snow equal atrocious road conditions. Can you say MELODRAMATIC.

Posted by: askgees | March 2, 2009 5:43 PM

Teachers ought to live in DC, eh? Yeah, of course. Where do you live? Until you know what its like to live in the majority of DC which might be characterized as less-than-ideal to many people, don't tell people to live here. Its a dangerous and violent place over most of the city, and the nice parts are simply unaffordable to most of us. Fenty and Rhee and the rest of the elites can afford posh digs, but most of the rest of have to contend with constant crime and violence. I would therefore never blithely say that people should just live here, especially when they have kids.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | March 2, 2009 5:23 PM


Or we can do it you're way and just run away like a coward. If more people stood up for them self's we might be able to change things.

Posted by: askgees | March 2, 2009 5:49 PM

Teacher's that didn't show up today should be fired tomorrow? really? Teacher's that work in DC should live there as well? Really? That doesn't make any sense either....this is ONE BIG metro area, so there are many people who live in one state/district & work in another.If you want to enforce that rule on teachers, make it applicable to EVERYONE....... Also, keep in mind that both Fenty & Rhee have drivers, so what do they care about treacherous road conditions when they don't have to drive in them?

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 6:02 PM

Since I know many DC employees who live in DC, I can say with authority that the nice parts of DC are not unaffordable. The question is:
1. What is your definition of affordable?
2. What is your definition of nice?

I am not all that happy living here, but nor do I work for the city.

I heartily suggest that any DCPS teachers who live in PG, MoCo or other counties just go work in those counties and free up their slots for educated future teachers from our community. It's a win/win.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 6:05 PM

Teacher's that work in DC should live there as well? Really? That doesn't make any sense either
-------

oh you're very wrong- it's the only thing that makes any sense. Are you complaining about Fenty when you can't vote for mayor? Grow up and take some personal responsibility. You don't live in DC? You lose the right to complain about Fenty or Rhee.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 6:07 PM

We live and work in DC where our young daughter goes to a DC public school. This morning we spoke to her school principal who said about 80 children showed up; the student population there is about 700.

In our view, the DC school chancellor played politics with her decision to open late, rather than close. It was a reprehensible decision to put teachers and their students (along with their parents) in todays's decision. My respect for her plummeted and I remain disappointed in Obam's ignorant statement -- this from parents who maxed their primary and general election contributions to the new president.

Posted by: HillRat | March 2, 2009 6:18 PM

I don't lose the right to do ANYTHING just because YOU say so...I can complain about ANYTHING my heart desires...Thank you very much! FYI- I do live in the district and SO WHAT?...that means I care more? That logic makes no sense. So to care about Katrina victims, I should've moved to New Orleans? Again, if you want to enforce that rule on teachers then make EVERYONE live where they work. Where people live is there own personal preference. Anyway, School should've been closed today . A minimal number of staff & students showed up which is a waste of EVERYONE's time & energy...not to mention safety risks

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 6:21 PM

DC is a "heat island" always warmer than the suburbs. So, less snow accumulates and it melts more quickly. So, DC is justified in being a special case for school closings.

Also, Northwest DC does not represent the entire city.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 2, 2009 6:21 PM

WAAAAAHH!!!! I went to DCPS til the eighth grade. We were always open when everybody else would be closed. I hated it. But guess what? As an adult when it snows, I don't whine about it. I don't make excuses about why I can't get to work. I get up and go to work. If anything, it taught me a good work ethic.

Posted by: lottaaction | March 2, 2009 6:28 PM

Several comments have been made about the worthiness of teachers, whether they should live in the community they work in, etc. Some comments have even ventured as far as to imply that teachers are slackers because they choose a job with a three month "vacation."

First, while teachers are contracted to work 40 hours a week, we frequently find that we spend an additional 20 hours a week planning appropriate instruction, communicating with parents, giving meaningful feedback on assignments, and attending school activities outside of the hours that we're paid for. Also, during our "three month vacation" which in actuality is a two-month un-paid period we're teaching summer school, attending inservices, and planning for the upcoming school year, and working a second job to make ends meet because society chooses to severly underpay us for the work we put in making sure your child gets the education they need to succeed.

With this in mind, while I agree it makes sense for teachers to live in the community in which they work, ufortunately, our salary doesn't afford us this decision.

Most teachers have some level of education beyond a bachelor's degree, because we are constantly going back to school to ensure we know best how to teach your children, yet we are underpaid for the level of education we've received, and while we'd like to live where we teach, because we believe in the home-school connection, the reality is, we can't afford it.

Vote to fund education, see teacher's salaries reflect the amount of work we do, and then you'll see us living in the community we work in.

Posted by: the1jem | March 2, 2009 6:50 PM

hoos3014: Just because a sidewalk seems to be clear, that doesn't mean it's free of ice. I am one of those pedestrians who walks in the street when that is actually safer than the ice rink sidewalks. And I am wearing winter boots. I hate having to walk in the street because I am well aware that I have to exercise extra caution because you are driving there as you have a right to. But I will risk it in the hope of avoiding a broken arm or leg.

Posted by: pirate1 | March 2, 2009 6:54 PM

It is so nice to know that Adwienne's Man-Crush on OB means that the District will "get tough" on the 2-3 times per year when they could miss a day of school because of snow.

Wasn't this the same little twirp who said 634 million people were coming to see his Man-Crush's inaugeration?

Posted by: Losercuda | March 2, 2009 7:01 PM

Quoting educator1:

Teacher's that didn't show up today should be fired tomorrow?

========================

Here is the rule where I work (I am not a teacher):

If the weather is bad, the company is open and you feel it's too dangerous to drive, you can your boss and request a personal day.

If your boss says no, there are too many people absent already and we have a lot of work to do, your option is get your butt into the office or refuse.

If you refuse, it's an unexcused absence and you don't get paid. Excessive absence leads to termination.

We should be hiring teachers who show intelligence, determination and resolve in getting their butts in to work instead of whining about "treacherous roads".

It's really as simple as that. Or maybe you should be teaching someplace weather isn't going cause you to freak out and refuse work.

DAStubbs,
Minneapolis

Posted by: dastubbs | March 2, 2009 7:04 PM

I had an enrollment of 4 students out of my usual 26.
We spent the day reviewing lessons previously taught.
It was a nice change of pace, but I believe a waste resources.
There were 25 students in place out of a student body of more than 200.
Our kids walk to school. They were wet and there wasn't much we could do to help.

Posted by: julien2 | March 2, 2009 7:07 PM

I had an enrollment of 4 students out of my usual 26.
We spent the day reviewing lessons previously taught.
It was a nice change of pace, but I believe a waste resources.
There were 25 students in place out of a student body of more than 300.
Our kids walk to school. They were wet and there wasn't much we could do to help.
--------------------------------------------------
As for the comment about living in DC.

I grew up in DC.
I Attended DCPS K-12
I could not afford as a DCPS teacher to remain in DC.
If you won't live in a drug infested neighborhood why should I be forced to.

Posted by: julien2 | March 2, 2009 7:12 PM

DA Stubbs- First of all, you live in an area that probably gets a fair share of snow. DC does not. Therefore, missing one day of school for a snow day does not make or break anyone....and does not lead to excessive absence. Talk to someone who lives in PG county or Montgomery county, which both close at the hint of a snowflake. My point was that it is ridiculous to suggest that a teacher who used common sense and makes a decision to stay home for ONE day should not be targeted for firing. My "intelligence" told me to stay home today and no amount of ribbing nor bashing could make me change my mind otherwise.

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 7:17 PM

Correction - ...My point was that it is ridiculous to suggest that a teacher who used common sense and makes a decision to stay home for one day SHOULD BE targeted for firing

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 7:22 PM

WJLA-Channel 7 posted a poll on their website asking if DCPS should've been closed today. Results at this moment are:
81% - Yes
19% - No

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 7:30 PM

Educator1,

I don't believe that deciding to stay home today is common sense- in fact it's the opposite of common sense- the snow was not as bad today as was predicted. I had telecon meetings with staff in Herndon and Shady Grove and while common sense told me not to try to drive to both locations today, why was it that everyone I needed for the meetings were at work at both locations?

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 7:36 PM

I am married to a DCPS teacher. We live in MoCo because we like it and grew up here. Because we have two incomes we can afford to live in the neighborhood we grew up in

Why should we both have to move to DC? What does where she lives have to do with her commitment to the children she teaches?

Believe me, any kid would be lucky to be in her class. Why should she have to move to DC? Why should I have to move to DC?

Posted by: jweissmn | March 2, 2009 7:40 PM

BBCROCK- That's your opinion...You don't know me nor my circumstances so, staying at home today was MY decision. Obvioulsy, according to the WJLA poll I posted, more people than not agree with me.

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 7:48 PM

To those who say a teacher must live in their school district to be effective:

What if a DC teacher marries a PG County teacher? Where do they have to live, in a house that straddles the DC/PGC line? Even worse, what if a DC teacher marries a Stafford County teacher? Or are they just forbidden to marry?

Posted by: anpanman | March 2, 2009 7:58 PM

Marc,
I'm a DC public school teacher, and I would love to live in the District. But as it stands, finding a reasonably sized apartment would take just under 3/4 of my monthly salary. I work in DC because I want to work in an urban district. I definitely don't do it for the money. I live in the far-flung suburbs and commute in each day, rather than go to work for one of the three districts within a 15-minute drive of my house, any of which would pay me several thousand dollars a year more than I'm making now. I did not make it in to work today, and from what I hear, neither did most of my colleagues. By the way, most of the kids--kids who live in the neighborhood where my school is located--didn't make it in, either. This was a completely wasted school day, and a bad call by Fenty and Rhee.

Posted by: literaldreamer | March 2, 2009 8:01 PM

I do not care if the President was serious or not when it comes to snow days in this area. I do not care if you are from an area that gets a lot of snow; I was to at one time and the difference with many of those places like Philadelphia and White Plains New York is that they did not lack sidewalks as may of the areas in the Washington metropolitan area.

Heck, I remember New York closing down here and there also when my memory refreshes me.

Nevertheless, I feel safety is a major concern for all. Sidewalks may not be cleared so the children walks in the street. Or hidden ice could be on the sidewalks. A car could slide on the ice and hit someone. Heck a driver can be an accident because of the weather. Who would be the blame? Can we sue the decision makers when they say the federal government will be open, the schools will be opened. Let's continue to live the Washington way...sue all the people who force us to be out in the eliminates because they don't think our lives are precious.

Posted by: izaocasio1 | March 2, 2009 8:33 PM

I'll interrupt the slanging match with a childhood memory. I grew up in Hastings, Nebraska, which gets its share of winter weather. I remember one winter day when we got a foot or so of snow and school was cancelled. I naturally went over to my friend's house, which happened to be located a couple of blocks on the other side of the school (I lived a couple of miles away).

Snow days! Such memories.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 2, 2009 8:57 PM

Hmm, it seems to me that the point of going to work is to work. So if your job is teaching kids, and the kids don't come--why should the teachers? Since parents made clear their lack of agreement with the decision to stay open, it doesn't seem like it was a productive use of a school day.

And as for the suggestion that parents should have the option of dropping their kids off if they needed the child care--suppose you need child care this Friday night--should your child's school stay open then also?

Posted by: janedoe5 | March 2, 2009 9:45 PM

Let's get real. DC teachers are normal human beings; they live in the Metro area vs. DC because that's what they can afford. They make amazing sacrifices on a daily basis to teach, just like their counterparts in the 'burbs. If you don't feel safe driving in these conditions, stay home. It's really very simple. People in this are work so hard and are so stressed out, maybe an unexpected day off can contribute to a litle sanity.

Posted by: abparks | March 2, 2009 9:56 PM

Teacher's that didn't show up today should be fired tomorrow? really? Teacher's that work in DC should live there as well? Really? That doesn't make any sense either....this is ONE BIG metro area, so there are many people who live in one state/district & work in another.If you want to enforce that rule on teachers, make it applicable to EVERYONE....... Also, keep in mind that both Fenty & Rhee have drivers, so what do they care about treacherous road conditions when they don't have to drive in them?

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 6:02 PM


Like I said. DC public school teachers think they are untouchable. If Rhee is as smart as I think she is, she has the perfect opportunity to unload the dead wood. I don't necessarily think that they need to live in DC but it's their responsibility to be at work if schools open as is with every other profession. It sounds to me like you advocate special treatment for teachers. But that's not surprising. Bad teachers have been insulated by the unions for a long time however the bubble is about to burst and the one's that shouldn't be teaching are on their way out the door. Fenty and Rhee live in the district.

Posted by: askgees | March 2, 2009 10:00 PM

In response to the many comments that 1) one be truly invested in DC kids if one does not choose to live in DC (or they're racist) or 2) that the teachers that did not come in should be fired (since they're a product of EOE anyway): Really? Really!

1) I have many colleagues that live outside of the city and stay just as late as I do even though they have a much longer commute because they are invested in their students. Perhaps the city should make it more affordable to live in the city.

2) That is a borderline racist. Many of my white colleagues did not come into work today. Should they be fired? Or because they are not a product of EOE they should get a free pass. Ugh!

Posted by: dcteacher09 | March 2, 2009 5:36 PM


The only one adding a racist tone to the discussion is you. As a teacher especially a DC teacher I find this disturbing. You should be fired.

Posted by: askgees | March 2, 2009 10:04 PM

Let's get real. DC teachers are normal human beings; they live in the Metro area vs. DC because that's what they can afford. They make amazing sacrifices on a daily basis to teach, just like their counterparts in the 'burbs. If you don't feel safe driving in these conditions, stay home. It's really very simple. People in this are work so hard and are so stressed out, maybe an unexpected day off can contribute to a litle sanity.

Posted by: abparks | March 2, 2009 9:56 PM


No one forced any of these people to become teachers. They choose the profession. I have a job that requires me to be there regardless as is the case with teachers. If you can't meet the challenge then move on. Don't act like you deserve a day off. You have the summer off already.

Posted by: askgees | March 2, 2009 10:11 PM

Marc, you obviously don't recognize that most of us have dual-career families. What do you recommend when the other spouse's employment is out in the suburbs somewhere? That those couples shouldn't try to split the difference in commuting times? Especially when that spouse has to commute, during rush hour, 12 months a year (as opposed to the 10 months of a teacher)? Yes, that's one way to make both people miserable. Good plan!

Posted by: LawProf1 | March 2, 2009 10:35 PM

askgeeves-Trust & beleive that teachers weren't the only people who took the day off because of the weather...Teachers have leave just like" every other profession" and can choose to use it as they please.Seems as though many administrators felt the same way as i understand it was pretty empty @ 825 N. Capitol St. as well. I said nothing about special treatment for teachers...especially not the special treatment of having a driver like Fenty & Rhee have...wouldn't that be nice?

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 10:36 PM

I am a DCPS teacher who was able to go to work today. A little more than half of my students came to school and it was very nice to spend some time reviewing subject matter that I've been teaching. I'm sorry that the students who didn't come to school missed the review; some of them would have benefitted from it. My commute was minimal because I live in the city (renting....not owning). To be honest, I was hoping that school would be closed because I have very pleasant memories of the snow days I enjoyed when I was young, living up north. But, in the end it turned out to be a nice day.

Posted by: interestedteacher | March 2, 2009 10:41 PM

Correction-before the red pens come out(believe)

Posted by: Educator1 | March 2, 2009 10:45 PM

"'Their contempt for teachers is sad but their contempt for the student population is reprehensible,' said Bryon Sweeney, a special ed teacher at Shaw Middle School, arguing that slippery sidewalks made it hard for some kids to get to class."

Geez, you'd think we were expecting kids to walk on hot coals or something. It's sad how little is expected of kids that walking down a winter sidewalk is "reprehensible." Makes me wonder how much he expects of his students in general.

I loved playing on the big mounds of snow the plows left on the playground, some as high as 4-5'. And my grandma and her friends used to open the fire hydrants in Cleveland to ice off the street so they could slide around.

Posted by: TracyDC | March 2, 2009 10:47 PM

"Risking life and limb" to make it to work?! What in the world is this person talking about?! Everyone was at my DC office this morning, including those from the far reaches of NoVa and Maryland. There were a few grumbles about public transit delays, but no comments about near-death experiences. Sounds like some people were a little bitter about their lack of a snow day.

As for the kids, I found sidewalks in my area to be passable at 9 a.m. If conditions were the same in their neck of the District, I'm sure they made it to school just fine - if they decided to show up.

Posted by: sweetpearacer | March 2, 2009 11:02 PM

Schools should have been closed end of discussion. Snow was worse in all the surrounding areas. Most people made the smart decision and stayed home. Speaking of flawed logic and tax problems and record deficits, D.C. is a master of both. Currently on pace to smash previous records. We are all paying for this nightmare.

Posted by: zcxnissan | March 3, 2009 2:39 PM

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