Unplugged — and unheated

Superstorm Sandy forced digital kids to unplug, notes a lifestyle piece in the New York Times.

BLANK screens. Cellphones on the fritz. Wii games sitting dormant in darkened rec rooms. For a swath of teenagers and preteens on the East Coast, the power failures that followed Hurricane Sandy last month represented the first time in their young lives that they were totally off the grid, without the ability to text, play Minecraft, video-chat, check Facebook, or send updates to Twitter.

And so on. Some poor teens were forced to talk to their parents.

Unmentioned are thousands of kids and their parents who’ve been freezing in the dark for nearly two weeks. They don’t have running water or toilets that flush. No wonder they think they’ve been forgotten.

A good school washed away

New York City schools have reopened, but nothing is normal in hard-hit neighborhoods, writes Robert Pondiscio on Core Knowledge Blog. Citywide, 79 schools in 44 buildings have been relocated.

P.S. 333, the Goldie Maple Academy, is less than two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Queens’ Rockaway Peninsula. A Core Knowledge school, it started the year with 578 students. Fewer than 30 children showed up for the first scheduled day of class since hurricane Sandy devastated the neighborhood and the school building. Even fewer made the 90-minute bus ride to a Long Island City intermediate school, which will house P.S. 333 students for a week.

P.S. 333’s principal, Angela Logan, was not surprised.  She can’t even estimate how many of her school’s families have left the neighborhood, for now or for good. “When you look around, you don’t see people outside.  There’s no reason to come outside.  The stores are all gone.  There was a lot of looting and there’s a curfew in place,” she says.

Logan and her teachers are trying to reach parents who find out how many students plan on coming to the relocation site, which will change next week.

The storm surge flooded their own school’s basement, destroying its boiler. Water damaged the first floor. Power may not be restored for weeks. It’s one of 11 schools out of commission in the Rockaways.

P.S. 333, which serves low-income black and Hispanic students, was one of ten New York City schools that tested the Core Knowledge Language Arts program, posting such good results that the program is being used in school statewide.

(Core Knowledge) materials are still in the school in undamaged classrooms in the upper floors, but Logan and her staff are not able or even allowed to retrieve them.  “The Department of Ed said we’ll just purchase you new materials.  I guess for them that’s just easier,” she fumed.  “They have no idea we’re a Core Knowledge school.  I don’t need Dr. Seuss books.  I need the Romans and Greek books.”

. . .  With the loss of instructional time, the lack of continuity, and the disruption wrought by Sandy, Logan fears it will be a lost school year for many of her children, most of whom can ill afford it.

Eleven school buildings are closed in the Rockaways alone.

Gotham Schools reports on the challenge of getting displaced students to their new school sites. To start with, there aren’t enough buses. Some schools were used as shelters for storm victims, who’ve been moved out to make room for students.