‘Snow day’ a tough call

What ever happened to Doppler Radar? That’s what I want to know.
All we hear about now are American models and European models, and which will prove correct.
Not that Doppler Radar was all that impressive. I recall thinking when it first made the scene that what it seemed to do was tell us if it were raining or snowing outside at that moment. In other words, it replaced the good ole hand out the window.
I also recall thinking that when I was a kid I had my own version of Doppler Radar. It was the street light on the corner near my house.
At night, you could tell if it were snowing only by looking directly under the street light. I actually got pretty good at predicting snow amounts that way. Size and density of flakes came into play. Also time of night.
Of course, there were no text alerts back then and nor did the TV stations list school closings. Perhaps that “crawling” on the bottom of the screen technology had not yet been invented. School closings then were the domain of local radio. And in the ’60s, that meant WARM, the Mighty 590.
My street light was trustworthy enough, however, that I usually went to bed pretty confident of whether there’d be school the next day.
Usually there was.
That had a lot to do with the fact that most kids walked to school in those days. School buses served outlying areas, but that accounted for only a small number of students. The rest of us came to school on foot, and it took a lot of snow to make our trek too treacherous.
Plus, we were a much less litigious society then. Superintendents were less likely to make a snow day decision based on concern for a possible law suit.
By the way, but I don’t remember there ever being a delayed start. It was either school day or snow day, nothing in between.
For the record, I would not want to be a school or college official assigned with making the snow day call. It’s a classic damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. The ‘rule’ is actually a no-brainer: err on the side of caution. But a snow day or delayed start results in such havoc in the lives of the average family, it’s hard to come out unscathed, no matter what.
How about this for a possible solution? Let’s stop sending kids to school in the dead of winter.
Summer off from school made sense 100 years ago when kids had to help out on the family farms. But in 2015, what’s the point, other than perhaps tradition?
The case can be made for a school year longer than 9 months. It’s a much more competitive world than when the 180-day school year was conceived. But that aside, wouldn’t it make sense to split up that summer vacation with maybe six weeks off in winter and the remaining six in summer? Sure it gets hot in summer. But probably not hot enough to cancel school.

Ed Ackerman