New York City decided last night to keep public schools open today despite a snowstorm forecast, a decision now being criticized by the teachers union, whose president insisted safety trumps the desire to keep schools open. The mayor defended the decision, saying "so many families depend on their schools as a place for their kids to be during the day, a safe place, a place where they're not only taught but get nutrition and they are safe from the elements."
Yet De Blasio also issued a winter storm travel warning for today last night, advising residents to stay off the roads. For New Yorkers who expect kings of their mayors, the decision to keep schools open seems in contradiction to the travel warning, and many of them are pissed. But de Blasio is not the boss of New Yorkers. Attendance may not have hit 50 percent the last time schools remained open during a snowstorm, in January. You should actually be able to see an attendance estimate from the NYC Department of Education sometime this afternoon here. WNYC noted numbers for teachers attendance wasn't as publicly available, but reported that in the January storm absenteeism appeared far higher than usual. New York City schools, like most districts, have a system for teachers to call out and substitutes to be deployed. Given that "perk," it's unfair for the teachers union to argue that all schools should have been closed for safety. Their contract lets them take a day off, more easily than a lot of other workers in New York City. New York City parents, meanwhile, should know that the decision to send their child to school rests with them alone. The mayor's decision to keep schools open fulfills one of their theoretical functions, to serve as a place for children to go when their parents are at work. The ultimate decision, even for New York residents accustomed to having their government choose for them, lies with New Yorkers, not de Blasio