Politics

Alexandria Schools Will Close for ‘A Day Without a Woman’

Public school district bows to pressure after 300 staffers request leave to join left-wing, anti-Trump protests

All of Alexandria, Virginia’s public schools will close March 8 to accommodate the approximately 300 staffers who reportedly requested the day off to participate in the “A Day Without a Woman” strike organized by left-wing activists, according to an announcement from the Alexandria City Public Schools.

The D.C. suburb said 300 staffers from the 16 schools in the district requested to have off March 8, which is both International Women’s Day and the date set for the progressive Women’s March redux. But rather than rebuff the “unusually high number of requests,” the ACPS simply decided to cancel the entire day of classes and interrupt children’s education to accommodate a political agenda.

“Women’s empowerment shouldn’t rely on putting other women and children in precarious situations just to make a point.”

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“Given the unusually high number of requests, this may be attributed to the observance of International Women’s Day. This day has also been deemed A Day Without Women,” the ACPS said in an announcement on its website Monday. “Consequently, ACPS has decided to close schools for students for the day. This day will be a teacher work day for ACPS staff.”

Although the school system claimed that this was “not a decision that was made lightly,” it tried to couch the cancellation in terms of the 2016-2017 season’s lack of snow days.

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“Students will not be required to make up this instructional day,” the announcement read. “As this winter has not seen the usual snow accumulation across the region, we have sufficient days in the calendar to close on Wednesday without adversely affecting the number of teaching days required by the State.”

Bowing to staffers’ desire to make a political statement by participating in the leftist strike, the ACPS insisted the move wasn’t politically affiliated.

“The decision is based solely on our ability to provide sufficient staff to cover all our classrooms, and the impact of high staff absenteeism on student safety and delivery of instruction. It is not based on a political stance or position,” the announcement read.

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Nevertheless, the school apologized for the “unforeseen burden” its cancellation would place on working families’ shoulders.

“We understand that when schools close there is an impact on families, who may have to find unanticipated childcare,” the announcement read. “We apologize for this unforeseen burden on parents and thank you for your patience and understanding.”

But Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, insisted that the meager apology wasn’t enough.

“Alexandria City Public Schools has apologized for the ‘unforeseen burden’ it is now placing on parents who now have to seek last-minute childcare in one of the most expensive areas of the country to live in,” Hawkins said in a statement. “Add this to the list of ways the Women’s March movement is empowering women, especially those who are barely making ends meet and now are forced to either take an unpaid day off of work because taxpayer-funded teachers are striking or shell out money for unexpected childcare. Additionally, many low-income children who rely on at least one, maybe two, meals a day at school are going to go hungry on Wednesday as their teachers strike for a meaningless agenda.”

“Does Planned Parenthood, a main sponsor of the Women’s March, approve the closing of schools and putting unnecessary burdens on women, especially working mothers who rely on a regular school schedule?” Hawkins continued. “Are they okay with children from low-income families who will go hungry on Wednesday? Women’s empowerment shouldn’t rely on putting other women and children in precarious situations just to make a point.”

The “A Day Without Women” strike follows on the heels of the Jan. 21 Women’s March success that protested against President Donald Trump the day after his inauguration. The strike will be held “in solidarity” with the International Women’s Strike organizers, among others.

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“In the spirit of solidarity and internationalism, in the United States March 8th will be a day of action organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women,” the International Women’s Strike’s website stated.

“March 8th will be the beginning of a new international feminist movement that organizes resistance not just against Trump and his misogynist policies, but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the decades long economic inequality, racial and sexual violence, and imperial wars abroad,” the website added.

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