September 10, 2012

Schools Closed Tomorrow -- Seriously?

Patrick Laverty

Maybe this is more of a venting post but why in the world are the schools closed tomorrow? Simply because it's an election day? Because some schools get used as polling places? I still don't get it. The middle school I attended was used as a polling location, more specifically the cafeteria. Rather than canceling school, we were encouraged to bring lunch from home and eat in our classrooms that day. The cafeteria was still available to purchase lunch, but instead of going there, they'd deliver boxed lunches, to be eaten in the classroom. That doesn't work anymore?

Now I'm not one of those parents who sees the school system as free child care and gets irate every time the school closes for any reason. I'm fortunate and those situations don't affect me the same way as they do for others. But this just seems like a terrible reason to close the schools.

My current town's school system started the year the Wednesday before Labor Day, and I was thrilled. I think this is a very smart move. Some in my town disagree and think school should never start before Labor Day. The way I see it, this is the time of the year when everyone is interested and engaged, not in mid to late June when everyone's tired, and the days are warming up. I'd rather they start in late-August and get out in early June than push it back. We'll get more quality educational days that way. Taking a day off for the elections just pushes the final day closer to the summer. It just feels like it can't be that easy for the teachers and the students to really get any good momentum going into the start of the year when these sorts of things happen, taking a day off so soon. And for what? The polls are open until 8 pm, so all the school staff will be able to vote. I just don't get it. We should be making every possible effort to keep the kids in school not looking for an excuse to take a day off. We should be prioritizing education over convenience of polling centers.

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Growing up I never had school on election day because elections were held in my school. I think it was primarily for safety reasons given the large number of adults coming in and out of the building. It was generally not permitted for just anyone to walk into the school during a normal day for the same reason.

I don't think it makes a big difference.

Posted by: Jason at September 10, 2012 4:44 PM

Don't kid yourself that this is for security of the children, there are police present at every polling place. The day off is for teachers to vote at their leisure, hand out cards at polling places, and otherwise ensure that the unions' picks will have full support.

Our schools started the week before Labor Day too, but won't have a full week of school until week 4, then a four day week again in week 5. I used to get public school mixed up with education too.

Posted by: riborn at September 10, 2012 5:13 PM

It's a scheduled PD day for the teachers.

Posted by: Cassie at September 10, 2012 6:02 PM

Its only one day, don't see it as catastrophic.

Posted by: Matt at September 10, 2012 8:53 PM is only one day, but Riborn's point is well taken. What, exactly, is the purpose of education? Why are RI teachers one of the highest paid, yet we rank 25th in the nation? Perhaps because we are so used to corruption and mediocrity that we don't care--and say it's just one day...

Posted by: Mike678 at September 11, 2012 8:51 AM

Wow. I thought I was the only person who had strong feelings about this. When I was a kid adults voted in the gym during school hours. But that was a long time ago. I hate this idea of closing schools for the primaries and general elections. In other communities around the country they have solved this inconvenience by using shopping centers to vote. In Worcester they use a supermarket in at least one of their precincts. And I'm not buying this hogwash that this is a union ploy. It's a stupid RI thing.

Posted by: David T. at September 14, 2012 9:09 PM
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