Snow days reveal not everyone understands the real world

by Jim Lang

Like much of the Hoosier state I’ve been snowed in this week. And since I live in Southern Indiana, my version of “snowed in” has consisted of dangerously frigid temperatures and, uh, well, that’s it.

My apologies to my friends up north who are still trapped inside their prisons of snow and ice.

Still, even without the snow, local schools in Southern Indiana and in Louisville made the smart call and cancelled classes, choosing caution for the many children who walk to school or wait each morning for their school buses to pick them up.

Several ideas have swirled through my mind as I have enjoyed our two bonus days of holiday vacation.

First, the decision to cancel classes was a wise one, despite the whining from critics who claim they trudged to school during blizzards while battling dragons in their day. Somehow, today’s kids just aren’t as tough, and, of course, our schools are to blame.

I largely ignored these buffoons because, frankly, as I’ve grown older debating stupid people has become less entertaining than it used to be.

But this “mini-debate” about school cancellations has revealed yet again that a disturbingly large portion of the populace simply does not understand the reality of the world they are living in, a world that most educators see daily.

As teachers, we know that despite the warnings and plethora of service announcements, many kids, most of them young, would have been standing outside awaiting a bus or walking to school in dangerously cold weather, many of them without the necessary clothing to protect them. We know this because we see this reality in the lives of our students even when the weather isn’t so frigid.

I wonder how these same people will feel as school corporations across Indiana debate the very real possibility of having to charge for transportation, or even more shockingly, eliminate it all together as transportation costs continue to climb.

We will see this debate. Sadly, we already are. We are a state that seems more concerned with funding failing charter schools, creating unnecessary education agencies, and offering yet another tax cut than thinking about maintaining quality buses, purchasing fuel, or even maintaining a transportation service that far too many of us seem to take for granted.

I wonder if these arm-chair critics have actually ever even examined their local school corporation’s transportation budget? Or talked with a school administrator about the increasing challenge of providing free, safe transportation to our children in an environment where seemingly only the financial cost matters?

Our schools are complex machines. Decisions are made with great care and, fortunately, we have seen a lot of wise decisions and good judgment by school officials throughout Indiana in the last few days.

But, we so often do.

Perhaps if our critics watched and listened more, they would understand what so many of us already do…that educators work tirelessly to make a difference even when our schools must close.

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