THE BLOG

Last Thoughts on the Snow Day the Mayor Called Right

02/19/2014 11:17 am ET | Updated Apr 20, 2014

Even in the twitterverse, there seems to be something off about all the furious "comment" Mayor de Blasio's refusal to call a snow day last Thursday brought forth. In the South Bronx, where I run a community health and self-care education program, barely half of kids graduate from school at all, chronic disease is crippling whole communities (when we assessed 1,000 adults in local public housing, 33 percent already knew they had diabetes and another 30 percent were pre-diabetic) and so many parents are variously ill and missing that whole housing complexes are being built just for the thousands of grandparents trying to raise grandchildren. Now, of course, a society, and its "commentators" cannot focus on dire and depressing issues like these every day, but why on earth does a snow day suddenly occupy editorial pages, commentators, opinion pushers and twitterphiles by the thousand.

The Mayor's contention that New York has only had 11 snow days since 1978 has now been born out by exhaustive research just published in the Gothamist. More than that, snow days are the Mayor's call about what's best and, generally, having kids go to school is what's best. Considering how many real dangers beset youth in New York -- including a frightening future if they don't graduate -- it's particularly annoying that calls for closing the schools were so routinely based on dubious claims of "danger." If it's "dangerous" to try to get to school in the snow, then presumably it's plenty more dangerous when kids who stay home do what kids have done forever -- go out and frantically play in the snow, throwing hardened snowballs, riding as fast as possible on sleds, purposely sliding across the ice, and so on.

No, the excess seems to have another impetus. Interestingly, the excess started with a newsman, albeit a weatherman -- Al Roker's now famous and furious tweet from the Sochi Olympics that the Mayor had wrongly maligned the weather forecast by claiming it was inaccurate. With this evident permission, it seems many in the media felt released to bear down on a new Mayor in a way that did not quite occur during the Bloomberg years. This is not to say Mike Bloomberg wasn't, on occasion, thoroughly criticized, but on many levels he simply did not receive the steady press scrutiny that Mayors usually do. After all, he was, among other things, a press baron himself. Important stories that went conveniently un-investigated during the Bloomberg years -- which we can bet will not happen during the de Blasio years -- include the incredible manipulations of social service contracting in the Mayor's last term.

A particular clue to this media attitude was that New York Post, of all places, sternly denounced the schools opening as "dumb" and the Mayor's justifications as "pathetic." Ordinarily, without a new Mayor to put in place, wouldn't the view of the NY Post be that all these slacker children should be happy to trudge through blizzards for the privilege of an education?

Meanwhile, back in Sochi, Al Roker might have taken a look around to see what happens in places where governments have no standards for anything, even something as basic as opening the nation's largest school system.