I'm going to defend Mayor Moneybags.
That's right - Bloomberg, the King of New York himself.
The mayor took some criticism for closing NYC schools yesterday because it was a Regents test day for students taking the U.S. history, geometry, physics and chemistry exams.
Gotham Schools says 98,438 Regents in all were ordered for today.
So presumably at least 90,000 students were taking Regents yesterday and since the exams were ONLY given yesterday, many might have to wait until June to take the exam again.
This includes some students who are slated to graduate at the end of the month but need to pass all five major Regents exams first - including the ones given yesterday.
The mayor got a little testy when pressed about his decision to close schools on a Regents test day (and make no mistake, it was HIS decision, not Cathie Black's):
1st Reporter: And so, all of these thousands of people will have to take the exams in June and will have to study for them again?
Black: That’s correct.
Bloomberg: Well, hopefully if you learned the material, you don’t have to study again? I mean, think about what you’re - they should be learning the material. That’s the whole idea of the test, to see whether you know the material, not whether you can pass the test.
2nd Reporter: The idea is that you can take it three times and pass it with at least a 65, so like, if you are not given that time in January to take it, you fail it in June…
Bloomberg: You know — unfortunately, we have a snow storm which we didn’t want, but God gave us. And the state will figure out ways to work it out, for the kids who need to take the test, but learning the material is not a bad idea. As a matter of fact, they’ve got the day free, they can go back to the books, and I’m sure most of them will want to spend this day doing that.
Leaving aside the mayor's incredulity that students who have been prepped for a January test might actually forget that preparation if forced to wait until June to take the test, let me note a few things here.
This one WASN'T Bloomberg's fault.
Had he kept the schools open, he would have been hammered for bringing children and teachers into schools on morning when the MTA buses were still suspended, the LIRR was running one train an hour, Metro North was partially suspended, and NJ trains were mostly suspended.
A delayed opening wouldn't have helped students taking the Regents exam since they can only be given right at 9 AM and even had he kept the schools open just so that high school students could come in to take their Regents exam, the percentage of student absences would have been incredibly (and legitimately) high.
Many teachers also would have difficulty getting in.
19 inches of snow falling between midnight and 5 AM kinda does that sort of thing.
So even had he kept the schools open, many students would STILL have their Regents problems, but on top of that, Bloomberg would have opened himself and the city up to criticism that he was putting students at risk.
And that would have been a valid criticism.
Bloomberg had a heads he loses/tails he loses proposition here.
He was going to get criticized no matter what he did.
Now this is his own fault - after the Bloomberg Blizzard Disaster of 2010, after CityTime and after the Cathie Black nomination, neither citizens nor the political press are in a mood to give him a pass on anything.
That is because he has worn out his welcome and people are sick of him and his arrogance.
That said, I think he made the right call here.
He could have called school off earlier than he did (which was 5 AM), especially since MTA buses had been suspended from midnight on.
But since the storm was much stronger than forecast and left a lot more snow on the ground than the weather people were predicting, I think he did the right thing by closing schools and waiting until the morning to do it.
As of Wednesday night, most media outlets were forecasting somewhere between 4-9 inches of snow overnight and even those forecasts came with caveats - they weren't really sure because of the unpredictable nature of the storm.
If they weren't sure about the forecast, Bloomberg couldn't be either.
So there you have it - hell has frozen over and I have said something nice about Moneybags.
And that will be the LAST time I say anything to defend Bloomberg.
Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled Bloomberg-bashing.