The Yellow School Bus and Buttered Coffee

I remember when I used to call a phone number on my parent’s rotary telephone to get the current time and temperature.  When I wanted to watch MTV, I had to get up off the couch and use the slider on our cable box. cableslider  And until I was 16, I rode the bus to school.

I know it’s not the 80’s anymore, I get it.  Most societal progress is good.  Like buttered coffee.  How did we not think of this until recently?

Now with both my kids in elementary school, they can finally take the bus in the morning.  But what happened to riding the bus?  I watch hundreds of cars snake through the school parking lot to drop off their kids.  It’s so pervasive at our school that they send out a note each year that specifies which door to drop off (depending on grade level) with a diagram on how the line moves through the parking lot.  They even created a second entrance to the school, which I’m willing to bet was primarily motivated by how to handle the increased car traffic.  Crossing guards?  Nope.  Bike racks?  Not that I can see.  Employees sitting out in the parking lot to coordinate traffic flow and facilitate drop-off locations?  At least 6 that I could count.

So why are so many kids chauffeured to school these days?  Open enrollment parents where busing isn’t an option; congratulations, you get a hall pass on this one.  Maybe you believe your precious ones are safer in your back seat than on a bus with no seat belts?  Here’s a data point for you: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that students are 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus instead of riding with adults or other teens.  Or maybe you’re anti-environment?  School buses keep an estimated 17.3 million cars off roads surrounding schools in the US every single morning.  Perhaps you are concerned that your child will be harassed or bullied by older kids?  Good luck protecting them for the other 6 hours at school.

If I had to guess the reason?  It’s because it’s a lot more convenient for the parent to pull out of their garage with the kids in the back seat, stop off at the Starbucks drive through, and swing by the school on the way to work or yoga class.  I mean, who wants to walk with their kids to the bus stop, have them interact with other neighbor kids, chat with other parents?  And what if it’s raining or cold?  The kids don’t seem to mind, it’s probably the parents who don’t want to deal with the elements (why would you when you have nice leather heated seats!)  And if your kids are old enough to walk to the bus stop themselves, it’s likely that piece of mind of seeing them walk into the school versus the unknown of allowing your kids to walk freely in your neighborhood.  Because you once saw that kidnapping story three years ago on CNN in a small town you can’t remember the name of, that included a bus stop and may have been a stranger, or was that the one where the estranged father abducted her…

Whatever the reason, it’s disappointing to me.  I have many memories of the school bus growing up and I’m hoping my kids have the same.  I can’t wait for tomorrow morning when I walk my kids to the bus stop with my buttered coffee in hand.

1 thought on “The Yellow School Bus and Buttered Coffee

  1. I’m one of those that gets a hall pass due to open enrollment. I believe the vast majority of chauffeuring at my school is due to open enrollment. I don’t have any statistics and maybe I believe because I want to believe. But even when I exit my out-of-district neighborhood in the morning, I’m typically amid other cars that are headed to the same school and must have open enrolled. When I mingle with other parents, I no longer assume they live within the school boundary, because so often they don’t.

    The schools are great, the district demographics may not support full schools these days (making room for open enrollment), and I wonder if the immersion programs have increased the open enrollment as well.

    I am looking forward to my kids riding the bus. It’s a far bigger parental commitment to deliver kids to school as opposed to ushering them to the curb.

    Here’s to hoping the traffic is due to increased involvement and commitment to our kids education, and not fear.

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