It was the day before the night before Christmas and all over the city of Philadelphia students were preparing to attend their final day of classes before a nine day winter recess.
Not all students and parents were thrilled about schools being open on the eve of Christmas Eve. In fact, many parents opted to let their children stay home today because they say it just made no sense for kids to be in school.
"I’ve been a teacher for 27 years and I do think it’s silly that they were brought in to school today. I just don’t see why it would be a big deal to have them there that extra day," parent Jean Gabl said.
According to Gabl, her two sons that attend Abraham Lincoln High School in the northeast section of the city were in for somewhat of a lounge day at school today.
"My son told me that his teachers already told him they would be absent today. So, the plan is basically for them to watch movies for the whole day with substitutes. It’s a waste of a day."
Stephanie McCue, 37, said her two daughters did attend their fourth grade classes today at Edwin Forrest Elementary School, but she’s not so sure that they learned very much.
“They didn’t do anything today. They watched movies and had snacks,” McCue said. “If they’re gonna go to school today I feel like they should do something; even if it’s just light work, in my opinion they should have some work to do.”
According to McCue, her daughter’s classrooms were half empty today because many parents told their children they could stay at home. McCue says one of her daughters’ classes that normally has 31 students had only 17 students in attendance today; another had 24 of 30 students show up for class.
"Their teacher told us two weeks ago that even he thought it was ridiculous that they had school today because nobody comes," McCue said.
According to Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard, all PSD schools were open today for a full day of instruction as part of the 180 days of minimum instruction hours required by the state Board of Education.
Gallard said rumblings about schools being open on Dec. 23rd are common and that, despite parents’ decision to keep their children home, the District intends to keep the eve of Christmas Eve as a full school day.
"We always hear about parents keeping kids out this time of year. I don’t know that this is different from any other school year," he said. "We are required to have a full day at school and we expect everyone to have a full day of instruction, though that instruction may vary."
Milton Martelack Jr., a parent from Mayfair, disagreed with parents who were letting their kids stay home from school today.
“As a parent, my responsibility when schools are open is to make sure that my child attends school. When you keep them home for no valid reason, it teaches them to be irresponsible. Any time a child is in school there’s an opportunity to learn,” Martelack said.
Martelack says his son attends fifth-grade at the Decatur Stephen School and that he has never missed a day of school or been late since first-grade.
Another parent, Eric Munion, felt it was a bit unreasonable for schools to be open today but agreed with Martelack that children should attend whenever schools are open.
“I thought it was a little ridiculous that they had school today. I’m sure they didn’t have much work to do. But just like work, in order to get that check you gotta show up,” Munion said.
“We’re trying to instill in them good work ethic. We preach it as school is your job. Whether you want to go or not, you need to go. School is their paycheck so they should be there.”
PSD was unable to confirm exactly how many students were absent from school today.