I vote at P.S. 6 on Madison Avenue and 81rst street in the heart of the upper east side. This morning I arrived at 9:15 to discover a long line snaking through the entrance hall to the back of the auditorium for those people who didn’t know which Election District they were in. Only one beleaguered gentleman at one table was in charge of looking up the addresses and answering the questions of approximately 100 people, telling them which district they were in and directing them to another long line to get their ballots. Taking advantage of the huge crowds, the school was running a bake sale and some polite little boys were working the lines, selling baked goods and snacks to raise money for the school. This is in a neighborhood with some of the wealthiest people in New York including our mayor.
I was shocked that neither faculty nor parents had thought to alter the focus of this annual project in light of the biggest natural disaster to have hit New York in their lifetimes. What a valuable lesson it would be for privileged children who still have homes, a school, electricity and a whole lot more, to give the proceeds of their volunteer effort to needy children and families victimized by Hurricane Sandy. How nice it would be if the children underestood that they were giving up some of their perks so that less fortunate children in the same city could have the bare minimum that they need to survive. How fitting it would be if the children learned to write the appropriate letters to accompany their cash contribution.
Lastly, what a much better impression PS 6 would have made on all the voters who spent at least an hour in the school if we had seen evidence of their re-ordered priorities. A great deal of time is spent discussing diversity in pedagogic circles - this was the chance for children with more to become aware of children who had less but who now have nothing. The acknowledgement of that disparity and the gesture of giving might be the most important lessons these children could have learned this semester.
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