Many of us in North America are enduring the coldest weather in decades. This morning it is -39 Celsius (= -40 F). Bone chilling does not even begin to describe the experience of being out in this weather. Whenever we have frigid weather like this I recall my time as a classroom teacher. I taught in very high needs schools and when winter roared in, many of the children suffered terribly because they did not have adequate winter clothing. Last night on Chris Matthews’ show, Hardball, on MSNBC http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/watch/the-need-to-sustain-the-social-safety-net-108521539760
there was talk about the American Congress wanting to end welfare benefits. All those politicians who vote to end or reduce welfare benefits they should visit an urban school in the depths of winter and tell some children that they do not deserve a winter coat and mittens.
When I was a teacher, every year I would go to children’s clothing stores and beg for winter gear (coats, mittens, boots) for my students who were so inadequately dressed. Never once did I leave a store empty-handed. Many of the teachers on staff engaged in similar missions and many who were moms or dads would bring in winter clothes that their own children had out-grown. So those politicians who want to micro-manage teachers and impose an array of standards should accompany those teachers to children’s stores to beg for donations. I am sure this reality-check would have a real influence because they would learn what teaching is all about. Their view that teachers need to be told what to do and should be penalized for not focusing solely on the “basics” might change. Aren’t winter clothes a basic? I think so. Stay warm! Clare