Snow Days

Photo by alvaro ortiz on Unsplash

I’m angry. That’s not something you’ll hear me say very often. I don’t do anger well at all. I put myself through some pretty crazy contortions to avoid being angry. If you were to walk up to me, slap me across the face with your gloves, and say, “You, Gene Glotzer, are a horrible excuse for a human being,” I would try my hardest to make excuses for you. I would really worry about what I did wrong, I’d assume you were having a bad day, I’d apologize, and I’d try to make things right. There would be guilt and shame, but probably not anger. I work on it with my therapist (I know it’s a bit counterintuitive to work on being angry in therapy), but I still struggle with it. All that is just a long winded way of saying that it takes a lot to make me angry, and right now, I’m angry.

My daughter has a “Remote Learning Day” today because of the snow. It’s outrageous on the surface, and only gets worse the more you think about it. Snow days are one of the most magical experiences of childhood. It feels like the whole world comes to a stop. You have no responsibilities. It’s a free day. You just play outside until you can’t feel your fingers and toes, then go inside and drink hot chocolate until the feeling comes back and you can go outside again. It only happens a handful of times each year (I’ve always felt sorry for all the kids who live in places where snow days don’t happen). I can’t fathom how anyone could want to take that experience away from kids.

Then you start thinking about it. A remote learning day is basically taking all of the negative things about going to school and combining them with all of the negative things about staying home. There are no positives, no upside. No one wants to admit it, but the way our economy is set up, the main point of school is affordable childcare for working parents. That’s gone with remote learning. The next reason, and main benefit for the children, for school is the opportunity for social interactions. That’s gone, too. A distant third is the curriculum, what is actually being taught. The kids sort of get that still, but a much lesser version of it.

When you look at the reasons for school, the first one, childcare, is a big deal if it’s missed for even one day. Missing a day of socializing is less of a big deal. Missing a day of curriculum isn’t a big deal at all. No kid has ever fallen behind because they only had 4 days of spelling in a week instead of 5. That’s not how the human brain works. So, the schools are taking away something that’s wonderful, not for something necessary, like childcare, but for something that’s pointless. Those 6 hours aren’t changing the kids either way. 12, 18, or 24 wouldn’t either.

Add to this the fact that we are in a global pandemic. I’ll say that again, our kids are trying to navigate/survive a global pandemic. Everything about the past year has been hard, for all of us, but especially for the kids. It’s unconscionable that they aren’t given every break that presents itself.

I’ve tried to make excuses for the schools, but I’ve had no luck. Why are they so obsessed with the number of days/hours the students are in school (physically or virtually)? It just doesn’t seem like they care about the children. It’s more important that they check all of the administrative boxes than help people.

The closest I’ve come to making an excuse for them is maybe, just maybe, they’re really, really stupid. Maybe they don’t understand how they’re hurting the kids. But I can’t really believe that. I don’t think teachers and administrators are any smarter or dumber than anyone else. And many of them are parents themselves. How can they not see what’s so obvious?

So, anyway, I’m angry. Let the kids have a snow day. I really don’t care if my daughter learns long division a year “late” (whatever that means). I care about her well-being. That’s all I care about. That’s all anyone should care about. I’m angry. Let them have a snow day.

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