As New Yorkers were urged to stay cool on a record-breaking day of intense heat and humidity, Mayor Bloomberg expressed little sympathy toward public school students taking exams in sweltering classrooms.
"Nobody is asking them to do something in 110-degree heat inside," Bloomberg said during a news conference at a senior center Wednesday afternoon. "I'm sure they're a lot more worried about passing their exams than the temperature."
The mayor made the remarks during a question-and-answer session after a news conference at the Bronx Works Senior Center, one of several designated cooling centers across the city. He was there with other officials to warn the public about the "dangerous" heat conditions and to urge vulnerable demographic groups to take proper precautions.
When a reporter pointed out the seemingly contradictory messages Bloomberg was sending about how the young and the old should be responding to hot conditions indoors, he became irritated.
"I don't know quite how to answer your question," he said. "Life is full of challenges, and we don't have everything we want. We can't afford everything we want. And I suspect if you talk to everyone in this room, not one of them went to a school where they had air conditioning."
When the reporter tried to follow up, Bloomberg interrupted, "Miss, I've answered your question. There's nothing unsafe about it."
He continued, "It may be a tiny bit uncomfortable, and these are young, strong people, and we're not going to ask anyone to stay in a building where we think it becomes dangerous, whether they are taking a test or not."
"Once their safety, their health is OK, yes, they have to take the test," he added. "That's what life is all about. If they can't pass these tests, they're not going to pass life's tests and then they are really going to be in trouble."
New York City's 1.1 million public school students are still in session for another week, and just 64 percent of classrooms are air-conditioned.
I proctored an exam in a room without air conditioning yesterday.
It was brutal.
I am sure students would have done better had they been in a room with air conditioning.
I am sure students who took the test in a room with air conditioning did perform better.
Certainly students who took the test in a room with air conditioning were given more advantageous circumstances in which to take their test.
But clearly Bloomberg doesn't care about this or even consider it a big deal.
The heat is "dangerous" for everyone else, but for kids and teachers in schools without air conditioning, it's just fine - shut up and take your test!
Now that the only thing that matters in Bloomberg's New York (indeed, in Obama's America!) is test scores, I wonder if a student cannot sue over these adverse conditions where they're forced to take a high stakes test in a room that is 100+ degrees when other students are allowed to take their tests in air conditioned rooms?
And now that teacher evaluations are based in part on student test scores and some students are forced to take tests under adverse circumstances (like a 100 degree heat), I wonder if a teacher whose students are forced to take a test in a room without air conditioning on a day declared a "heat emergency" cannot sue the city over the validity of his/her evaluation based upon those test scores?
Is it fair to compare teachers using test scores from students who took tests in differing conditions?
I dunno, but once the vaunted new Cuomo/Tisch/King teacher evaluation system comes into being, I am telling you, I intend to find out.
Finally, you'll note the lack of empathy Mayor Bloomberg shows for students and teachers in adverse conditions, indeed, you'll note the lack of rationality too.
He says "Nobody is asking them to do something in 110-degree heat inside" when indeed, that is exactly what he is asking them to do.
Or is trying to pass a high stakes geometry test on a 100 degree day when temperatures are closer to a 110 inside a hot building with windows that do not open not asking them to do something?