Mayor Bill de Blasio has been on the job for only six weeks, but he has already thoroughly alienated one constituency.
Luckily for him, they’re not old enough to vote.
“GO AWAY NO ONE LIKES YOU” and “are u stupid?” were just a few of the angry Twitter messages blasted at the New York City public schools’ official account by the city’s school kids, after de Blasio announced late Wednesday night that schools would not shutter in the face of 14 inches of projected snowfall.
On Facebook, New York kids and others joined a newly created “Impeach DeBlasio” page, whose description is “RIP Snow days.” The page features images of cars completely covered in snow overlaid with de Blasio’s advice to travel safely.
Parents are sensing a new-found interest in the city’s politics among their young, who have been granted only one snow day by de Blasio despite braving six major snowstorms this year.
“It is pouring snow and de Blasio says no snow day, my 7y old just said ‘I miss Bloomberg,’” recounted one New York parent on Twitter.
Classmates of de Blasio’s 16-year-old son, Dante, pestered him last month in Facebook messages to lobby his dad to be less stingy with snow days. “I’m trying to convince my dad,” he replied, according to the New York Daily News. (He failed.)
The mayor defended his decision to keep New York City public schools open Thursday as school kids and parents barraged him with angry criticism. He mentioned that mayors have closed schools only 11 times since 1978 due to weather. Fewer than 45 percent of New York's 1.1 million school kids showed up to school Thursday, compared to the usual average of 90 percent.
“It is a rarity, and it’s something we do not do lightly,” de Blasio said in a press conference where he spent nearly an hour defending his decision, alongside schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.
He appeared to deflect some of the blame for his decision on the National Weather Service, which had predicted between three and five inches of snow by Thursday at 8 a.m. This set off the ire of "Today" show anchor and New York City parent Al Roker, who took to Twitter to blast de Blasio. “Forecast was on time and on the money,” Roker said. “Mr. Mayor, I could never run NYC, but I know when it's time to keep kids home from school.”
De Blasio, who won his seat on a populist campaign platform that emphasized narrowing inequality, said that many parents depend on schools to be open because they do not have the option to stay home from work. Poorer children need a safe and warm place to be, where they’re guaranteed a meal, he argued.
“It would be very, very easy to call off school constantly,” de Blasio said. “It would be very easy to say let’s call off school at the slightest hint of snow.”
Even as kids and parents trudged their way through the snow to school, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Thursday for New York City and surrounding areas, warning people to stay in their homes if possible.
“New Yorkers should stay off of the roads and remain in their homes until the worst of the storm has passed,” Cuomo said.
NYC schools spokeswoman Marge Feinberg says there are no reports of students injured on school buses.