New York City Schools Stand Up To Sandy

Michael Bloomberg set an excellent example yesterday evening when he publicly thanked New York City's "teachers, principals, and school custodians who’ve done a fantastic job getting kids back to school." While those working in education frequently come under fire, it is always worth repeating that many are unsung heroes doing extraordinary work day in and day out.

Albor Ruiz of the New York Daily News reported yesterday on the efforts of school maintenance workers, summing things up well in a headline and caption: 

School maintenance workers unsung heroes of Hurricane Sandy: When the city turned schools into shelters for the homeless, drug addicts, psychiatric patients, families with children, senior citizens, pets – all mixed together – staffers like Jesús Ayala suddenly became first responders. 

The article gives a great sense of how workers in the public sector are going above and beyond in the current crisis.  

As Bloomberg noted, New York's teachers are another group rising to face post Sandy challenges. First and foremost, they are trying to help 1.1 million students focus amidst the uncertainty and chaos which is beginning to feel routine in the city right now. Buses and public transportation are not fully reliable. Some teachers are teaching in schools without power. Many are trying to integrate students who have lost their homes, or whose regular schools were heavily damaged.

Teachers must also provide stability and a safe atmosphere as their traumatized students struggle to make sense of an unprecedented natural disaster. They are doing this while facing trials in their own lives, such as homes without heat or hot water, complicated commutes, friends and relatives who have lost everything, and the emotions, fear, and sense of frustration that come along with all of those things.

Yet 95 percent of teachers showed up on Wednesday, according to the Department of Education. You might say this is nothing special. Teachers are just doing their jobs. That's true. But the job is a hard one, especially now. And teachers deserve our great respect and thanks for doing it.