Monday, May 28, 2012

Educating The Future

I am sure many of you have read about the Walker, Michigan high school Seniors who were suspended from the last day of school and then told they would not be allowed to walk the stage at the graduation because they rode their bicycles to school (with the Mayor!).  What a stupid situation that was.  My favorite quote from it so far has been School District Superintendent Gerald Hopkins-

"Superintendent Gerald Hopkins told the meeting that the district would have supported the bike ride if students had alerted officials ahead of time."

Who calls a school superintendent to ask if it is OK to ride a bicycle to school? What kind of power do they think they have?  A lot of those kids are 18 and are no longer required to ask anyone's permission to do anything.

Cameron in danger? He is a high school Senior.

Anyway, just when that whole idiocy starts to work its self out we get this next beautiful example of education and reasoned response to the needs of children and families in Gilbert, Arizona.

The Board of the charter Edu-Prize School in Gilbert has banned children from biking or walking to school!!!!! I am sorry, but who the hell gave a charter school board the power to  say anything about anything that happens outside their school, outside of school hours when kids are with their parents?!!!  The school's chief operating officer (just that title should let you know this is coporate, not education) Barbara Duncan is quoted as saying-

"All have put children at considerable risk, and our board has acted to keep children safe before there is a predictable event," Duncan said in an e-mail. "The streets are marked with bike paths but are not wide enough for children or parents to safely use them."

So all of the parents have had to sign an agreement that they will drive their kids to school- mistake number one.  I am a parent in a school that tried to prevent me from letting my daughter walk 3 blocks home by herself after school.  After pointing out that they had no problem with her walking to school alone everyday and then providing them the name of my attorney should they feel the need to push this further, Úna was never again prevented from walking home on her own.  Parents can and must fight this kind of idiocracy.

Mistake number two?  If the Charter Board of Edu-Prize School wishes to throw their power around, do something to make your streets safer!!!  That is what we are doing here at many schools in San Francisco.  We are returning the streets around 181 of our schools to the 15 MPH spaces they are supposed to be, we are expanding our bicycle lane network and working for even more (and with this and other changes our elementary school had 31% of our student body participate in Bike To School Day even though it was raining), we are using our Safe Routes To Schools money to make needed changes, and most importantly, we are not letting the world just keep on trudging along running over our children.

Traffic Guard
Children in imminent danger?
Girls Take The Lead
Obviously these kids will be killed any moment.  Yeah.

Schools are supposed to be places that teach kids how to think.  Schools are not there to police a parent's transportation decisions.  Forget the "my kids get great exercise" argument.  How about the "I am out of work and the car isn't working so we will be using those bicycles we all got for Christmas" argument?  Or the "We live three blocks from school so we are walking"  argument?  Or my personal favorite "My kid is still having trouble reading because you are too worried about her using her scooter" argument.


If this we Gilbert we would be rebel outlaws!

Kids have to take classes in critical thinking to graduate and go to college.  I think some "educators" could do with some brushing up in that area, don't you?


  1. Awesome! Too many people involved in education are worried about the wrong issues. Part of the reason we chose to move to the neighborhood we did was because the safe routes to school group was working so hard. Who doesn't want to live in a neighborhood where it is safe for kids to walk and ride to school?

    1. A lot of people want it but not many are willing to do the work to make it happen. Not that the system makes it easy.

  2. Although I totally agree with you on this issue, since it is ridiculous to ban riding or walking to school, however here in CA, schools are actually responsible for the students during the time period when they may be going to or from school, such as walking or biking. It's called "in loco parentis" and applies to primary and secondary school levels of public schools (though there is much more involved than I'm explaining here). Don't know if it applies to private schools, though.

    1. While that may be the case, my guess is that "in loco parentis" can not supersede the rights of the actual parent. It also can not bar civil liberties. So how could any school tell me that I am not allowed to use whatever legal form of transport available to me to bring my child to or from school?

  3. Quite nice. Riding a bike to school certainly saves up money as well as give the body a little bit of exercise.

  4. "Idiocracy" is so apt here. I hear about these stories and my brain just can't handle the idiotic ways in which school (and other so-called) officials think. Instead of helping to make walking and biking to school safer where they are, the only 'solution' they have is to ban walking and biking?!?

    This is car-centricity run amok. They are so entrenched in car culture that even considering other modes of transportation or challenging the status quo of transportation legislation might actually cause physical harm.

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  6. We're moving down to the Valley over the next two months and chose to live in Central Phoenix for the transit oriented development and it's mix of bus, light rail and bike lanes. When I originally read this post I assumed it was another reflection of the suburban car culture mindset that really seems to dominate that metro area. However, when I linked to the AZCentral ariticle I learned that Gilbert enjoys bike friendly distinction from the American League of Bicyclist and that the policy of the Gilbert public schools is to encourage biking and walking to school. It's strange that at a time when most schools are struggling to discourage helicopter parenting the Edu-Prize School seems to promote it. Instead of allowing children to develop autonomy and the skills to use the road responsibily (including under the watchful eye of parents biking with their kids to school!) the Edu-Prize School has decided to keep kids helpless.