Monday, January 24, 2005


The red needle is centered smack-dab in the middle of the zero on my outdoor thermometer. The numbers are big and bold, easy to read from the warm comfort of my kitchen window.
Oh yeah, it's a Monday morning, and I'm still at home.

The Cleveland city schools are closed today. Unplowed sidestreets, impassable sidewalks, and dangerous temperatures,I'm certain, made the decision fairly easy. I can't help but think that the school district, beleaguered by a debt, that at one hundred million dollars can only be described as awesome, will also save a few dollars by not heating the buildings on this most bitter of days. Probably more than a few.

Cold mornings in Cleveland will find the students in my morning classes bundled up in wool afghans,working Cratchet-like at their drawing boards. No matter how hard or hot the uni-vents blow, they will not often keep pace with the icy drafts of air that pour through the cracks, spaces, and holes of the single pane windows in their ill-fitting frames, along the north wall of my classroom.
Winter morning room-temperatures in the forties prompted my purchase of about fifteen hand-knit blankets and afghans from church rummage sales. I keep them in a box at the back of the room, and the kids will sometimes argue over their favorites.
We laugh at how pathetic we look and how "ghetto" it is for us to have to work like this.
We console ourselves with the idea that hardships make us stronger, scrappier, tougher.

Still, I get angry when I think about the public schools a few miles up the road, in the suburbs, whose communities would never tolerate such conditions for their children.
The taunt "No child left behind." infuriates me so much more during Cleveland's long, cold, winters.


Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Mary Beth,

I was down in East Cleveland this morning at Rozelle Elementary. The building was warm and the kids working afghan-free. If East Cleveland can do it, you have to wonder what the folks at the top are doing in Cleveland. I doubt that Mayor Campbell ever has to put her sweater on.


Jeff Hess

sage- Bflo and WNY said...

I am a lil concerned about this whole NLCB thing. I wrote about my experience based a conversation with my child's teachers. Take a look and feel free to add something.


- Ali

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