First, help me out, y’all: Remind me why the name “Lenore Skenazy” rings such bells in my head. Yes, I Googled her, and learned her work history (she was canned by The NY Daily News after 18 years — whoop-tee-doo, I was at The State for 22), to some extent her personal life, and the ideas, or idea, for which she is best known.
But none of that explains it. I’m pretty sure I had some kind of interaction with someone of that name at some point. Did she interview me, or did I interview her? Wait — did she used to run in The State? If so, I might have paid for her columns, even though she wouldn’t have run in editorial. There were some weird deals whereby I paid for newsroom features, and the newsroom paid for some of ours. Maybe that’s it.
Anyway, in the course of pushing her one big idea — set kids free (an idea with which I agree, by the way; their lives are indeed too regimented) — she wrote a piece that ran in The Wall Street Journal today.
It was an intriguing piece. It went beyond the usual kids-don’t-walk-to-school-enough theme, to this extent:
Take the bus. Sure, about 40% of kids still ride the cheery yellow chugger, but in many towns it doesn’t stop only at the bus stops anymore. It stops at each child’s house.
Often, the kids aren’t waiting outside to get on. They are waiting in their parents’ cars—cars the parents drove from the garage to the sidewalk so their children would be climate-controlled and safe from the predators so prevalent on suburban driveways.
Sounds pretty horrific. But is it true? I doubt that it’s true here in SC, where we seem to have trouble keeping the buses running at all. Or is it? Your anecdotes would be appreciated.
Most kids, though — including those who live three blocks from school — are driven there and back, to the point that:
…the language itself has changed. “Arrival” and “dismissal” have become “drop-off” and “pick-up” because an adult is almost always involved—even when it doesn’t make sense.
And then there’s the picture of the schools’ containment of the masses waiting for Mom and Dad:
… afternoon pick-up has become the evacuation of Saigon. At schools around the country, here’s how it works:
First, the “car kids” are herded into the gym. “The guards make sure all children sit still and do not move or speak during the process,” reports a dad in Tennessee. Outside, “People get there 45 minutes early to get a spot. And the scary thing is, most of the kids live within biking distance,” says Kim Meyer, a mom in Greensboro, N.C.
When the bell finally rings, the first car races into the pick-up spot, whereupon the car-line monitor barks into a walkie-talkie: “Devin’s mom is here!”
Devin is grabbed from the gym, escorted to the sidewalk and hustled into the car as if under enemy fire. His mom peels out and the next car pulls up. “Sydney’s mom is here!”
She also tells of a school removing its bike racks to discourage kids from pedaling themselves to class.
So is it really this bad out there? I’m curious.