After the hurricane, Mayor Bloomberg was eager to reopen the city’s public schools as soon as possible for the 1.1 million children enrolled. He worried that they were “losing time” and had to get back to their studies, back to normal. The facts that many of the schools suffered damage, that many were turned into shelters, and that many children were in shock because of their experiences were irrelevant. It was back to the routine.
In this brilliant post, Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn, has a better idea. He envisions classes across the city studying climate change, learning civics lessons, and engaged in public service to those in need.
This is what teachers call “a teachable moment.” But NYC rejects the moment and opts for normalcy, not fresh thinking. Such thinking and the activities it might inspire can’t be allowed to interfere with the real purpose of school, which these days is higher test scores.