Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shooting Oursleves in the Foot

I'm not sure how it is where you live, but I have followed school buses that literally stop at every intersection in our development. Perhaps my memory is fading, but I seem to remember walking from the school half a mile away (according to Google) -- dear heaven! I thought it was only 1/4 mile! In all sorts of weather. Even when I had not listened to my mother, and I'd worn my favorite jeans and sweater -- in June. Even when I had to carry that cumbersome model of the solar system, home from the science fair. But half a mile, nonetheless.

Fast forward to 2014: It seems someone has stumbled onto a brilliant idea -- walking home from school!


According to reports, the children play learning games and develop face-to-face relationships as they walk a safe, predetermined route with a responsible adult. Officials laud the program as a way to reduce child obesity, incorporate fitness, and even save districts money by cutting bus routes.

Albeit a bit obvious, I'm really not taking issue with the program itself -- here's where I have a problem:
"Elementary schools in Columbia, Missouri, were among the first in the nation to have walking school buses. Piloted in 2003, the program, at its height, involved 450 children, 13 schools and about 200 volunteers. It was canceled this year because of funding issues..."
Huh? Seriously? A program that can do so much for children and their tax-paying parents, and nothing. 450 students, 200 volunteers -- people were obviously on board with this. "Many of these programs are funded by the federal Safe Routes to School program, which pays for infrastructure improvements and initiatives to enable children to walk and bike to school." OK, and what happened there? Are you telling me it's cheaper to fund healthcare? Let's Move? school districts? If you follow the money trail, I'm sure someone had plans for the money -- plans that suit a different, self-serving agenda.

A simple step -- literally, toward helping children develop conversational skills, life-long fitness habits, an interest in the outdoor world around them, and meaningful relationships, just to name a few -- and bureaucracy can't get it together?  We've got money for the core curriculum which does nothing to whet their appetites for learning, or teach them to explore and think for themselves, right? Past generations have put men on the moon, discovered vaccines and medical cures, made commercial airlines part of our daily lives, put computers in our homes, our cars, our phones, and even our bodies, and raised DNA technology to a Orwellian level. This from childhoods spent playing until the street lights came on and delivering newspapers on those marvels of modern engineering, our bicycles.

We "red tape and politic" ourselves to our children's peril. When we will put aside our prejudices and egos, cross party lines, and selflessly do what's best for our own future?

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