Saturday, December 15, 2007

I criticize schools for once :)

I've been reading the post-mortems after Thursday's snowfall and accompanying traffic nightmares in the local papers in Southern New England. The Globe had this cool graphic:

Graphic of how the snow affected the traffic.

Meanwhile, in Providence, school kids on buses didn't get home for hours. I'm an easygoing kind of person who understands problems, but seriously? I would want that school superintendent fired. His comments reek of ass-covering.

Back some 20 years ago, when I was a grad student home for the summer, I worked as the administrative assistant for the director of a preschool summer program for kids with developmental disabilities. We bussed a lot of kids. One of my jobs was to wait at the school till the buses finished dropping off the kids. Hudson, the bus company, would call me when they were all delivered home safely. If there was a problem/delay, parents would call me and I'd call the bus company and say "Hey, where is X bus? and why hasn't it dropped off Y kid yet?" I also had to call the social services department if no one was there to pick up a child.

We had a few problems here and there, but mainly it was a low-key part of my job. But I took it seriously. These were 3- and 4-year-old kids, some high-functioning Downs kids and many with communication issues, and the thought of them being left on the bus freaked me out. We didn't even have cell phones back then; the bus drivers and the companies kept in contact via radio.

I want to know whose job it was in the Providence transportation department to make sure that those buses got the kids home. Apparently, in Warwick, RI, they had similar issues, but district directors stayed in the transportation office till the kids got home.

Someone in Providence fucked up royally. The buses not getting home because of the snow/traffic is understandable. The lack of communication is not. The superintendent sitting in his car for 2 hours getting home instead of being at the transportation office is not.

My story: I left work in Providence at 11:30ish. It started snowing just as I was exiting the offramp on the highway near my house. I picked up my son at kindergarten, then we hung out at home for an hour or so till my daughter's school closed. We live across the street from the school, so we just walked. My husband was still at work and I began a series of calls to him begging him to come home so as to avoid 1. dangerous driving conditions and 2. serious traffic. He ignored me so that he could take photos of the snow. *sigh* Such is the life of a photographer's spouse.

At around 3:30 I told him to get his ass back home and he finally agreed, but he said he could see traffic was already backing up on the side streets. I prepared myself not to see him for hours even though we live only 6 miles away from his workplace, but he took the back streets he usually bikes on, and he said he had a smooth ride, no delays. He just avoided the highway. I am still amazed. He also had the Subaru (with all-wheel drive) just in case he got stuck or something, but there was no need.

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