School will be in session on Monday, Dec. 23 — unless a group of teachers get their way.
A caucus group within the United Federation of Teachers has launched a petition asking for school to be canceled the day before Christmas Eve, and more than 1,000 people have signed in a matter of days.
The petition argues that having school so close to a holiday cuts into travel time for educators and students, meaning attendance is likely to crater and little teaching or learning can happen. It was launched by the Movement of Rank and File Educators, or MORE, a caucus within the teacher’s union that advocates on social justice issues.
“Ask anyone who works in a school. They would be like, ‘This is a horrible idea,’” said Rosie Frascella, a high school teacher who wrote the petition.
The 2019-2020 school calendar was released by the education department at the end of April, and educators immediately took issue with the single-day workweek just before Christmas. The teacher’s union Facebook page was flooded with hundreds of comments, many blasting the district’s decision to keep schools open that day.
“It is absurd to open school for one day and then close for break. It is not cost effective. There are other alternatives,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the teachers union, said in an emailed statement.
The education department noted that winter break will last just as long as past years, and seemed to stick by the decision to keep class in session.
“Every year, we work towards a calendar that meets the needs of students and families, while taking into account holidays and the potential for snow days. The 2019-20 school year calendar is no different,” department spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said in an emailed statement.
MORE dug up old school calendars and found that on at least four other occasions when the 23rd fell on a Monday, schools were closed. The caucus claims the school calendar already has enough wiggle room to call for a holiday and still bank a day for a possible snow closure. Alternatively, MORE suggests simply ending the year a day later, on June 27.
“If the 23rd is on a Monday, nobody’s going to be coming to school,” Frascella said. “I would much rather work until June 27 to have that day off, to travel and prepare for the holidays, and also to have an instructional day that makes sense.”