Saturday, September 6, 2008

I just recovered from a dead faint

I read this week's column by Taylor Armerding in the Daily, and I (mostly) agree with him!

When I was a kid (I know, that was before the internal combustion engine was developed), my mom neither drove me to school, nor to the bus stop. The school bus only stopped every half mile or so, not every bloody block.

Granted, we lived out in the boondocks of Genesee County, MI, so in actuality there were no blocks, just crossroads every mile.

The school bus for junior and senior high (told you I am old) didn't even come down our road, which dead ended at the county line, so some kids had to walk a full mile to get to the bus stop.

None of us were fat. We got a lot of exercise, running for the bus. The driver was not inclined to wait very long for us to get there, and if we weren't there, we were told off. George Pickle was his name.

Sometimes I can't remember my Social Security #, but I remember George Pickle.

I think I've mentioned before how living out here on Plum Island, with sand and beach within easy walking distance, you'd think the neighborhood kids would be outside all summer. Not so.

Of course, I don't think I've mentioned the registered pedophile I've heard lives somewhere across Old Point Road. I could never find any listing for such a pedophile living out here, but perhaps the talk of one is enough for parents to keep their kids close.

Not enough to make them move, mind you - but that's another story altogether.

Anyway, I agree that the school district should at least consider (which I believe they do) ending all non-mandated school busing. That would be anyone closer to school than, if I recall correctly, 2.5 miles.

Still, parents would be in their cars with the kids, and on the streets. Have you seen the parking frenzy at the Bresnahan school when it lets out for the day? Buses idling, cars and SUVs idling ... it's a nightmare for anyone who likes to breathe.

If there were ever a time for your kids to walk to school, parents, the time is now. School departments think they have found a vulnerable spot in your wallet. Maybe you won't vote for annual budget overrides, but they figure you'll pay whatever they want to charge you to keep your kids riding the bus. Those fees they're charging won't have anything directly to do with busing - they'll be used to "preserve jobs," not to mention pay and benefit increases but if they call it a busing fee, they figure you'll do anything, pay anything.

I don't agree with this, however, at least in the case of the Newburyport schools. The fees cover the cost of leasing the buses, and have nothing to do with preserving jobs.

And I liked his concluding sentence: Save the children. Make them walk to school. Just don't make me walk to work.

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