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If you’ll recall the school year started, here in the land of 112 degree weather, with no air conditioning in my classroom. Now we are in the middle of a record cold spell — and there is no heat. All my students huddle with their arms inside their shirts and their coats over their heads. According to the thermometer on the wall it was 37 degrees in my classroom this morning. At 9:00 we opened the door because it was warmer outside.

My students were trying to write. Most of them had their sleeves pulled over their fingers and their pencils wrapped within the folds. One of the kids stood up to ask me a question. He saw me huddled at my desk with my coat over my head and my arms inside my shirt. “You can’t sit like that!” He exclaimed.

“Why can’t I?”

“Because,” he said. “You’re a grown up!”

Guess what? Grown ups get cold, too. And fed up and tired and angry — kind of like the way I feel about this school district.

It is now 2:20 p.m. and the heat has been on for about an hour. We are starting to thaw. The kids are just now starting to show some interest in their surroundings — and you understand that I am responsible for anything they didn’t learn today.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. That’s ridiculous Quilly, nobody can be expected to function when temperatures are that low inside a classroom. It makes me so angry that conditions like this are not being addressed by our government, but they have all kinds of time to try and legislate our morality. Your dedication is amazing, it wouldn’t have mattered what you tried to teach, the brains of your students were too busy trying to generate warmth to have learned anything.

  2. I saw something like your problem when I was school board president. We begged the public to pass millage to upgrade the heating system but they turned it down. We kept the heat up by diverting funds needed someplace else. Public education is such fun.

  3. Kat — my point exactly. I am constantly held accountable for things I have no control over.

    Dr. John — children don’t vote, so children don’t count.

  4. you could always burn a few books.

    KIDDING! i kid. still, i’m so sorry you and your kids (and everyone else in that school) have to suffer through such a ridiculous indignity. funny… i thought there was a lot of money floating around in Las Vegas. oh wait, there is, it’s just that they sink all the “educational bucks” into the UNLV athletic programs, where it can do some *real* good, right? so much for priorities.

  5. Any colder and there’s be icicles hanging on the ceiling. That’s really insane. I can understand not having air conditioning because the district I went to school at didn’t have too many buildings with air conditioning so I was pretty used to it, but I think not having working heat would be grounds for shutting down school.

  6. This sound like my house all winter!
    New england is so wonderfully chilled. lol
    Perhaps this would be the time to introduce some arobic exercise. Kids still enjoy jumping and moving their arms around no matter where they live.
    Just think heat is on the way…heat is on the way…heat is on the way.
    Best wishes

  7. Of course you are QD, and next year – you can expect a cut in salary and less money for supplies and less money for books and more criticism from parents and more rules from the board of education and more meetings and less recognition… it is the nature of the beast… i’ve never quite understood why we abuse those in the educational system so… seriously – i’ve talked to several people who have so much to give, so intelligent, love the kids – and yet are eternally frustrated by the system!!

  8. I am dumbfounded. I wonder if bringing a politician into the room would help, afterall they blow lots of hot air and do little else!

  9. This is horrible Quill, What is the School Admins problem. How could this school board survive if they were here in Calgary last week with our record breaking temperatures.

    It makes one wonder where the intelligence level of the policy makers are when they don’t heat a school.

    I will say a prayer that Divine Intervention will intercede in your cold classroom.

  10. Neva — have you seen Vegas’ electric bill? Their priority is not ecucation. How knowledgeable do you have to be to lug suitcases and serve drinks?

    Nessa — my sorrow is for the kids. I can walk away.

    Silver — my coffee chilled instantly

    Pauline, we did some jumping and stomping

    Amy — the pep talk is greatly appreciated … pft.

    Jan — there’s a thought!

    Bill — the heat came on this afternoon about 2:15. How long it stays on is anybody’s guess.

  11. oh hon how horrible. that is no way to treat kids and the teachers and staff they are so desperately in need of. their priorities as it is often in our world sucks. i wish there was something we could do. is there? like a writting campaign to someone or something?

    being a teacher is no easy task. being a teacher in some schools is very hard. being a teacher, expected to do so much with so little and no or little support is just darn stupid.

    hugs my sweet. hugs.

  12. oh hon, i’m so happy you laughed at the joke post. anytime you laugh another angel gets his wings. didn’t you see that version? ;p

    i’m seriously gonna do this slippers thing. i’m gonna give one to my sis. we are all having supper @ Christmas. it is not so easy to have us all together (even though we 3 live in the same city-how sad is that eh? šŸ™ ) anyhoo, i i will wrapped it up so nicely too and will hand it with such pride and a speech to go along and she will die, lol…

    and i’m also doing to Joe. he asked Santa (me) for slippers in his lists..i got to post it and my kids, the lists, they are hillarious.

    i love you so much. i’m sorry things have been so yuck lately. i know how horrible those foggy times are..wish i could help hon.


  13. Chana — until people learn to value their own kids more, education will continue to be about test scores and budgets.

    Have a camera ready when Joe sees his slippers! I want a pic of the look on his face!

  14. That is beyond ridiculous! And especially when dealing with kids and yes, as Neva so brilliantly pointed out, in a place with no shortage of money! Dios mio!

    Though yeah, I have heard quite a bit about the strange world that is Vegas by my close childhood friend who lives there…

    … here’s to much well needed and much deserved heat for all!!!!

  15. I’m with silver, school should have been canceled for the day!
    I know that adds a day on the end of the year, but at least it won’t be cold!
    Keep up the good work, Quilly, hang in there!

  16. Mz B. — I have lived on many places, but none quite as strange as Vegas.

    Dabich — school has to be closed here for 10 days before it adds time to the end of the year. You know, one school was without water all day and they didn’t close it. They say because there is 800 – 1000 kids oer elementary school, that is just too many parents to contact in such short itme. How do other cities manage it?

  17. OH, QD, the more you reveal about that place, the more I am amazed that anybody with your talents should stay there. Forgive the impudence but it’s well intended.

  18. [shakes head]

    This story needs to go to the education high-muckymucks at the National Science Foundation, who are convinced that special programs will get hordes of teachers and students hooked on science and charging into classrooms and laboratories worldwide to fuel the next generation of discoveries.

    (a) The special programs need to be delivered by the competent teachers who have all been driven out of the schools by the abysmal salaries and working conditions.

    (b) Guess what happens when you force-feed a market? The price for the commodity goes down. Already Ph.D.s in the sciences are, for the most part, working at salary levels far below what their qualifications should be earning them. So we want to shove more people into this? Great way for The Man to have highly-educated slave labor.

    In fact, this is what’s been going on in the Gaza Strip for decades (Palestinians are among the highest-educated, and poorest, peoples in the Arab world). And we have the damned gall to wonder where suicide bombers come from.

  19. OC — take this quote (Great way for The Man to have highly-educated slave labor.) over to Sar’s and enter it in her caption contest.

    Special programs? How about a little heat? Nobody is thrilled about anything in my classroom except coats and hats and mittens.

    Oh, and check your cold medicine. You might want to lower the dose just a bit. For that matter — why aren’t you sleeping?

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