In a New York Times article published on October 16, 2009, “The Secret New York Minute,” the Metropolitan Transit Authority revealed that “every commuter train that departs from New York City—about 900 a day—leaves a minute later than scheduled.” This difference might seem small, but for many students who have a long commute to Stuyvesant, taking commuter trains such as the Long Island Railroad, missing the train by one minute means being late to school by 30. For the majority of Stuyvesant students taking the subway, the unpredictable timetables can cause students to be late by one second or 20 minutes.
Lateness is something almost every Stuyvesant student has dealt with, whether it’s because of the unpredictability of the subway system or the physical impossibility of running up 10 flights of stairs in four minutes. It’s understandable that if instruction has started a student may be marked late, but many Stuyvesant teachers mark students late for coming into class a minute or even a second after the late bell. Yet, class hasn’t even started. Nobody has really settled down, and the teacher hasn’t even begun to talk.
Teachers who have such strict policies and need to have a specific time when kids have to be in their classroom should consider marking students late two or three minutes after class begins for first period, and about one minute after class begins for classes during the day. These teachers usually believe the tardiness is because of idling in the halls, but if all the teachers just asked what floor students were coming from during the first few days of classes, reasonable extra time could be given and such assumptions wouldn’t be made. Also, for many teachers, tardiness brings down a student’s grade. When a student is late by five seconds 10 times, they haven’t missed any instruction but still receive a grade that doesn’t reflect the effort and time they have put into the class.
Classes at Stuyvesant are only 41 minutes long, so it’s understandable that teachers would like to make the most of their class time. It’s clear that when students are late, they may miss important information and useful parts of the lesson, and distract other students, so it is a student’s responsibility to get to school and class on time. Because of this, a grace period should be implemented at Stuyvesant, but it should definitely be circumstantial. Teachers should only allow some students to come into class a minute after the late bell, depending on whether they have to climb seven or more flights of stairs to travel. The same principle should be applied to first period. While all students should be given two to three extra minutes to get to class, if a student begins coming to class during the grace period every day, it is clear that they are abusing the privilege, and their right to have a grace period should be revoked.
Students already carry a large amount of stress with juggling homework, class work, tests and a social life. The majority of us do try our best to make it on time, but it’s about time for Stuyvesant to realize that it’s okay if we don’t always make it on the dot.