Monday, September 30, 2013

The Uglies

I've been a real peach the past few days.

It started Thursday when the district rerouted our kids. No longer on the local, 1-mile radius "neighborhood" route, they've moved us (as apartment dwellers) to a 9-mile long route that ONLY picks up at apartment buildings all across the school's boundary. No other routes take nearly that long and no other routes pick up at apartments.

Classism, anyone?

Our last route was a 13 minute ride---the school is two whole miles from our front door. The new route, coupled with the nastiest human being who had two kids (one of them mine) crying on her first shift, takes 25 minutes (up to 45 in the afternoons) and drives nine miles down an I-10 frontage road and into neighborhoods that are miles past the school. This bus criscrosses the three most dangerous intersections in the city.

Some fellow parents and I are knee-deep in bureaucracy right now trying to get things righted, but you're dealing with people who really, really at-the-end-of-the-day don't care. They don't. My children are two tiny drops in a sea of bus riders.

So in the meantime, I refuse to let them ride this bus. It's an accident waiting to happen.

I drove them to school this morning and walked them up to the building, hoping to drop Boo off in his new classroom (overcrowding forced a new class to be made...he's in the new group) and get a feel for the teacher and the students.

Three steps in, I was stopped by a small group of staff.

Turns out, parents aren't allowed to walk their children into school anymore. They aren't even allowed to walk through the double doors that separates the school from the world outside now. Too many adults wandering around would be too difficult to manage. People are crazy. They do crazy things.

I guess I get that. I was horrified as anyone else at Newtown. My heart broke at the Spring stabbing. I get sick to my stomach when another arrest is made because some creep makes threats against elementary school kids, promising to storm in and take out as many as possible.

But I also remember the days I could walk my son to his classroom and wait right outside when his bell rang. When I knew the teachers and the assistants and the classmates. When I wasn't presumed a threat to the children until proven otherwise.

And on the ride home, I wondered, when am I a bigger threat to my children than the dangerous route they've put them on during morning and afternoon rush hour? Why is this horrible woman driving the bus and yelling at our children trusted with them and I'm not?

When did the school become a physical barrier between my child and I?

I can't explain how I feel about it right now, but more and more, I start understanding why so many friends of ours have gone "off the grid" and educate their children themselves.

It's ugly, this feeling.

Thinking the district I place my children's fate in really has it all wrong.

That, really, it's all about test scores and attendance funding and less about smaller things like safe, efficient bus routes that aren't manned by cretins, and even less about making parents feel like they're any part of the process at all.

I have a case of the uglies. A great big dose of the uglies and it's so much worse because it's my children they're putting in danger and keeping me from.

Would you understand if I reach my breaking point? Would we still be friends if we drop off the grid and grow our own tomatoes and educate our own kids?

I'd save some canned green beans for you, I swear.

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  1. I thought parents were supposed to be involved in their children's lives at school. That's what many newspapers, psychologists, sociologists, etc. have been saying for years. Our kids are turning into crazies due to the fact that parents aren't engaged in their children's lives. So for a school to say that you aren't allowed to walk your children to class not only has me shocked, but saddened. These rules have been put in place because the school district is scared. Scared to be sued. Scared to be responsible for anything that may go wrong. So instead they are making up rules to place children in to environments that are much like prison. Test scores show that it isn't working. I wouldn't blame you if you did home school your kids. I think you would be great at it. Your tomatoes would be awesome too. :)

    1. I agree, Cindy. The staff weren't rude. They weren't pushy. THey were enforcing a rule that came down from above and it's that "above" that's got me so frustrated. They're in positions to make decisions about what risks are acceptable (unsafe bus routes) and what aren't (me walking my child to school). Sad banana day!

  2. Oh honey. I'm so sorry. That is just awful. A sign of the crazy times we live in.
    Makes perfect sense to drop off the grid. My husband has been threatening that for years!
    If that happened to me, I would seriously consider it... I'm already so disgusted and sad about the state of our country. :(

  3. I am almost there with you! It's not only the district policies, but this it's also the other kids... luckily there is another option, it's just not the best option.

    Do I put my child in the nearby school where I know everyone and can get all the information I need, even though I don't agree with all the policies or bus her to a far away school (long bus ride!) that would take an hour for me to reach in an emergency, but might be a better education experience.

  4. Thats crazy... And I can't help but feel like it's just one more step taken that only serves to make things worse. You know? Causing further division between home and education, making a child's life that much less whole isn't going to help...