Bloomberg, NYC PS Schools, and Sandy
What is far down the list of dealing with the aftermath of Sandy is how Mayor Bloomberg handled dealing with schools, specifically students and teachers.
The Mayor made it very clear that safety was top priority. Let me try and explain what was dealt with in regards to the mayors decision, without power, and going into work yesterday (my power came back a few hours ago).
First, the majority of NYC PS teachers live on Long Island and all of their children were off from school on Friday for BLATANTLY obvious reasons. Teachers and students were ordered to stay home and decisions to open schools in such a devastating time will not be made until Sunday. I am guessing these reasons were not a concern for this mayor in dealing with students and staff of the school system he overlooks.
For obvious reasons there were not too many options as far as babysitting goes during the aftermath of Sandy so most teachers were forced to bring their own kids to unsafe buildings and neighborhoods. Schools that were set up as shelters have un-screened citizens roaming the building. Many who have resided in shelters include the homeless before Sandy and mentally ill.
Most teachers on Long Island do not have any power including heat, gas stoves, no running hot water for showers, and cell phone use was sketchy. The only sure means of communication was the radio and mostly this was used by turning on the car and burning gas.
The mayor made reference many times about how important it is for kids to get back to school but reinforced the idea of safety first (ha ha). He also gave the students until at least Monday (or longer) to deal with issues they may be facing before returning to school. The mayor strangely ordered teachers back to work on Friday, many who did not have safe school buildings with power. My school was not affected but the surrounding neighborhood was hit hard. Trees and downed power lines made it unsafe and the threat of having gas stolen from the tank at work made it even more stressful. Driving into Queens was very risky because there is no gas, law enforcement agents, traffic lights and people are driving over the dividers with intersections closed off. There is also looting at stores and people stealing gasoline in broad daylight from parked cars. Not exactly the best time to be on the road or away from your house.
Once we got to work we realized that it was postponed from the usual 8 am start city wide to 10am! Numerous teachers waiting in the cold not wanting to burn gas in their cars for TWO hrs before schools were opened! How could this be? The Mayor broadcasted several times how the teachers needed to report to their school are regular time for extremely important information for the return of children on Monday. Well, the Mayor sent an email at 12:51 AM to change the start time for all staff! Did the mayor not realize that teachers wouldn't be able to access their email accounts when there was no power? Was 12:51 AM is a good time to assure that all get this important information? Imagine how stressful it is to get ready in the dark with a flashlight for work only to drive before sunrise with no streetlights to get to wrk and find out the time was changed?
After waiting TWO hours in the cold because teachers were afraid to run their cars for fear of being stranded without gas the building was opened. My principal met the staff at around 11am (3 hrs later than arrival), until then she had no direction from the mayor or chancellor as to why and what important information was so vital for the students that teachers would have to risk leaving their families and coming into work in preparation for school possibly Monday.
My principal added that the mayor also has no plan at all (crisis management plan) for students who have lost loved ones or just dealing with outrageous situations for Monday when the kids arrive.
The entire staff was frustrated to say the least. This is how NYC tax payers money is spent by Mayor Bloomberg. Far less teachers will be at schools to take care of the kids on Monday if the gas situation is not corrected. Needless to say, I wont be at work on Monday if the gas situation is not dealt with. Burned my last bit of gas that could have been used better by going into work with no students, just like the mayor asked me to do........