Thursday, January 4th, 2018….the third day of a full week of “2 Hour Delay” days at my kids’ school and, indeed, throughout the school systems across the country. And I just finished a verbal fistfight with a school administrator about it….. but why?
The Public is told that the 2 hour delay is designed to help keep kids safe and prevent them from waiting in sub freezing temps for buses that may or may not come in time to get them there by 8am (or whenever they’re supposed to show). But that’s a lie. A bold faced lie, perpetrated by the state school systems to hide the truth…….which IS……..
The two hour delay is usually imposed on days when school really should be simply closed, due to cold or icy weather. In hilly areas like Pittsburgh, ice and cold can be a REAL problem for kids, and not only those who ride the buses, but those who have to walk or even be driven on streets, yet untreated (as they usually aren’t) or unplowed in a timely fashion. The stated rationale, is that the extra two hours gives buses time to get their cold-ass diesel engines warmed up and get the kids to school in a “warmer” time of day. But let’s look at this current weather situation….. it’s been under 20 degrees (and close to zero, most mornings) since before New Year’s Day. Even colder temps predicted for tomorrow, too. At ten a.m., it’s NO WARMER than it was at eight a.m. Not noticeably, at least. And the kids who walk or are driven still have to get there on crap roads left icy by our inefficient city services. I know of parents who CAN’T take work, because they have to walk UP TO A MILE AND A HALF twice a day with their kids, because the bus won’t get them unless they’re 2 miles away, and they don’t have a car….so the parents walk 6 miles a day to just GET their kids to school. Are THEIR needs being acknowledged? Nope…..they’re just expected to suck it and like it…..
But the kicker, in MY case, is that I, as the prime caretaker for the kids (4 and 6), had to find a job (and, luckily, I did) that would work with me on my hours so that I could be there to drop off and pick them up every day of the school year. That means, that I only get to work from about 9am to 12:30pm on a GOOD day when there’s NO issues. Not much money, but at least it keeps Child Support off my ass…..barely.
The trick though, is that I have to be there to start my job NO LATER THAN ten a.m. So, whenever there’s a 2 hour delay on a day when school should be closed, not only do I have to deal with the bullshit so that the school can claim to the state regulators that they met their 180 day requirement under the law, but I also don’t get to go to work, so it’s a completely wasted day for me. Completely useless. And this week, I have a grand total of ZERO hours going on the ol’ paycheck….which helps to feed and care for these same kids the schools are so concerned about the safety of…. and I’m sure Child Support will LOVE to hear, about how I couldn’t go to work because the school schedule screwed me out of my hours ALL WEEK……my bosses must love it, too…considering they hired me on the reasonable expectation that I’ll be able to actually show up to DO my job….which I actually, love, by the way…
Is the school gonna’ compensate me for lost hours? Nope. State Unemployment? Nope. I’m just fucked, and that’s all she wrote.
Couple that fact, with the District’s reasoning that Pre-K kids and all the other kids have to go in thru separate doors at opposite ends of the school, which means I either have to keep the 4 year old exposed to the elements unnecessarily for a longer period of time. They don’t want me to pull into their parking lot to drop the kids off (security reasons, they’ll call it) so I can’t leave him in the nice, safe and warm truck unless I leave him a couple hundred feet away from where I’m taking my daughter into the door assigned for her….which, in the eyes of the state is “endangering” my child…..so, they wanted this morning, to send a lackey out to verbally call me out for parking in the no-no zone while I dropped my daugher off at her door and left my son warm and safe, not thirty feet from me.
I took the time to fully explained this entire quandry to the administrator lady, out in the fourteen degree winds, and told her to please DON’T SCREW WITH ME ON THIS ONE……the bitch needs to pick a better battle because I will NOT continue to kowtow to policies that either endanger or otherwise make me uncomfortable about the safety and well-being mf MY child….not their child….mine. The child I spend 18 hours a day with and love more than they ever could.
I already patiently (for 3 years now) wait forty minutes with a cranky 4 year old after his school is out for the day, until the 1st grader is released at a separate time, and I find ways to keep him entertained for 40 minutes each and every day, so as not to upset the careful balance the school dictates be set for kids in different grades. I already park on the street and walk them to their different doors and wait until they open them up each and every day the entire rest of the year. I already elect to NOT get paid and risk losing my job, just to make sure their attendance doesn’t suffer and reflect poorly on their school transcripts…..so the Pittsburgh Public School System needs to calm their tits about where I park on the days when it’s so fucking cold that I, by all rights, should just keep them home (as should every other loving parent in the city), safe and warm.
Kids need routine. And you have no idea how the 2 Hour Delay screws with their little minds, when they get thrown off the routines of everyday school life. Their meal times get skewed, the lessons get abbreviated, and their behavior suffers both in and out of class, all because the school doesn’t want to extend the school year farther into June, due to the Union contracts they’ve negotiated with the Teacher’s Unions and Labor Unions. They HAVE to get 180 days in somehow, before a certain date each year, or they risk the entire year being decertified as a “school year” OR the teachers saying, “Our time is up”, and going on their (well-deserved) summer breaks per Union schedule, regardless of how many days are needed to complete the year to State standards.
Who loses? The kids, and their working parents, MANY of whom can’t get compensated for missed time and many of whom may actually LOSE their jobs when companies decide they can’t be counted on to be reliable employees and show up on time throughout the winter. Families lose, while the Unions win. And the State doesn’t give a fuck. You refuse to send your kids on these ultra-cold days, and they’ll say you’re a neglectful parent and then you get Children and Family Services knocks on your door and you get to jump through hoops for the rest of your parenting life.
What’s so goddamned irritating, is that ALL that’s needed, is to extend the school year and negotiate Union contracts that take winter weather days more into acount and allow for flexibility to get the required 180 days in each year. If it’s 5 degrees out, close the fucking school for the day, and then open it one more day in June. Simple. Easy. Fair to everyone. And parents who bitch about missing their vacation time in Myrtle Beach they scheduled for early June will just have to suck it up, because the vast majority of children and families can’t afford that life, anyway. We’re more concerned about keeping our kids in school, working our jobs, feeding our families and paying our ever-increasing utility bills and property taxes.
So, Pittsburgh Public Schools….prepare for battle. I’ll go to fucking war with you and even though I already know I’ll lose and any victory would only be pyrrhic at best, maybe enough parents would hear the words of common sense and agree, and an uprising could take place against the co-opting of our lives by ineffective and downright harmful school policies can be addressed, so that future generations of kids may attend the schools that we PAY FOR and who WORK FOR US.
Your tax dollars at work, Amerikka…. But yet, people are worried about Trump’s Tweets……