HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Chauffeurs wait for school to end

Written February 24th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

The lineup of cars waiting outside Liberty School left a gap for the crosswalk on Feb. 12.

Of all the issues our schools face, traffic jams at day’s end may be among the least important. Still, what does it say about our way of life when so many children need to be chauffeured home from school?

On a bike ride during a sunny afternoon this month, on Feb. 12, I noticed that the westbound traffic lane for the entire length of 24th Avenue in front of Liberty School was blocked by parents or others in parked vehicles, waiting to pick up their kids.

It’s not a new phenomenon, or unique to that school. A few days later I read a Facebook comment in response to the school district’s plans for a new bus garage: “I have to say,” the commenter wrote, “there’s a pretty damned big issue with (the North Albany Elementary School) driveway and pick-up, drop-off area that is getting completely ignored. The traffic blocks the main road almost all the way back to the credit union…”

I asked GAPS Superintendent Jim Golden about what I had seen at Liberty. “Our hope,” he replied, “is to use some of the bond money to create better off-street parking at Liberty and extend that into an off-street parent drop-off as well.” It’s on the project list of the overall $159 million bond construction program, but not for this year.

As for blocking the street, Golden said, “This issue has been brought to our attention before by the city and some of our police and first responders.”

Ideally, elementary-grade children should be able to walk to school and home again, but the size of the attendance areas in parts of the Greater Albany Public Schools makes that pretty hard. There are buses, but for some reason children don’t or can’t use them on some days, or any days.

Once they get old enough, grade school kids could ride bikes to school. With that in mind, state and local transportation officials have tried for years to promote “safe routes to school.”

This effort has a long way to go before most parents will be convinced that safe routes exist. But it’s worth pushing along, so that one of these days, many more children will be able and confident enough to get to school and back on their own. (hh)



16 responses to “Chauffeurs wait for school to end”

  1. Michael Dee says:

    Every child should be required to walk or take a bus unless there is a medical excuse. Not as a law, as a point of public embarrassment! The school should require a sticker to enter school property, says, “Parent Raising a Wimp”.

    • Leroy says:

      Every child should be home schooled, to avoid the need for buses.

    • Robin N says:

      I think that is the most ridiculous notion! The first issue with forcing kids to ride a bus or walk is the fact that many children come from multi home families. Meaning they live part time with each parent and not both parents live in the same district. The second issue is safety. Either there is a lack of safe routes to school, an individual security risk to some of the kids, or a concern of potential abduction from one of the several hundred sex offenders in Linn County.
      Wake up! The world is a very different place than when we grew up in. Parents have the right to do whatever they want to protect their children. No one should judge or mandate a solution for something they do not understand.

  2. Susan Gatliff says:

    It’s not just Liberty. We live near Periwinkle and morning and afternoon is a nightmare to get through there or out on Waverly or Geary. Also my granddaughter goes to South Albany and the afternnoon pickup is horrendous. Sometimes there are three rows of cars bumper to bumper.

  3. HowlingCicada says:

    “””what does it say about our way of life when so many children need to be chauffeured home from school?”””

    The ever-increasing overprotection of children: it’s mostly not kids being wimps. It’s irrational fear being sold for profit by industries like TV, tabloid magazines, and social media, aided by modern technology and some disastrous aspects of “human nature.”

    The story of one person’s mishap matters more than a whole country’s plight if that person was lucky enough to have a “journalist” with a camera. Statistics don’t matter, the important things now are stories and “narratives.” The fact that violent crime is lower than in past decades is lost on most people, as is the fact that only a small fraction of abductions and other crimes against children is committed by strangers. The only cure for this mess is critical thinking.

    Back on topic, search “free range kids.” You’ll find enough to read all weekend.

    Back to Albany, this stupid state of affairs is being compounded by the desire for yet more off-street waste of space at great expense, opportunity cost, and environmental degradation (impervious surface = rain tax).

    • HowlingCicada says:

      A couple related problems, especially among the affluent, are rising expectations for:

      1 – Childrens’ activities, planned and timed and all over the place.

      2 – Parents’ involvement in their childrens’ lives, having to witness and record every little whatever.

      Again, a lot of profit centers.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Howling:

      “Back to Albany, this stupid state of affairs is being compounded by the desire for yet more off-street waste of space at great expense, opportunity cost, and environmental degradation (impervious surface = rain tax).”

      To be sure, it’s definitely NOT “a desire” by any means. We are are trying to be proactive ahead of the mandates from DEQ & EPA — and we are trying to push back to same. Time will tell whether or not we are effective in doing so.

      • HowlingCicada says:

        Ray or Hasso:

        What DEQ & EPA mandates? I only need a little hint to find them.

        To avoid a possible misunderstanding, I interpreted …

        “”” “Our hope,” [Golden] replied, “is to use some of the bond money to create better off-street parking at Liberty and extend that into an off-street parent drop-off as well.” “””

        … to mean construction of much new asphalt. Or do you intend to re-purpose the space behind the school (in which case I was off the mark but with new complaints)?

        Questions for Hasso: If the traffic lane was completely blocked, what was in the parking lane? Or, why were they in the traffic lane instead of the parking lane? Stopped, not parked, right?

  4. Jennifer says:

    I am an NAE parent. We love to bike but are in the minority. The District encourages riding the bus but my young elementary children really dislike riding the bus because of the obnoxious and loud behavior of other children on the bus. I watch bus drivers stop regularly in the middle of the road to try and get kids to behave. There is no control or supervision over rider behavior on the school buses and the drivers can only be expected to do so much. Second, North Albany Comminity Church generously offers its parking lot for parents who want to park and walk over to pick their kids up at NAE. Most parents are not interested in walking or getting out of their vehicles. Last, the school district appears to be interested in adjusting North Albany elementary (all three) schools make up in a couple of years when Oak Grove school is complete. This means our family might be split up at different elementary schools in North Albany and have to travel up to 4 miles to attend their assigned elementary school. This is something to keep tabs on in my opinion as they seem to motivated to break up the K-5 elementary school experience into a series of one to four-year schools rather than a K-5. It would add additional pressure to already congested intersections at Gibson Hill/Crocker and Gibson Hill/Scenic if the School District decides to send elementary students who live near Hickory Station all the way over to Oak Grove or Fir Grove with their parent drivers! Hopefully this won’t come to pass but is already being discussed by the School District leaders.

  5. centrist says:

    Wow, lots of presumption here.
    I never rode a bus. Dad was at work, Mom didn’t drive, parochial schools didn’t have buses.
    We lived within walking distance. I never came home to a parentless house.
    Leap forward many years. The service area of many schools precludes walking, but the pickup and dropoff times don’t match the scheduled of no-longer-nuclear-family.
    Helicoptering wimp-raisers? Maybe, maybe not. That’s a whole ‘nother thread

  6. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The districts have integrated the school bus into the institutionalized babysitting program that schools have become.

    And the kids sit on the bus for double the amount of time it takes to drive to and from school.

    And the kids have to put up with lots of bullying by older or bad behaving heathens.

    No thanks. Family chauffeurs are a much better choice.

  7. Mary Brock says:

    Getting to and from school is not the same as it used to be. It is a dangerous world out there. Kids are abducted nowadays, not just by people seeking ransom from rich parents, but by any number of deviants or criminals. One abduction is one too many.

    Also, drivers are distracted by smart phones and may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They often hit pedestrians or bike riders.

    If the buses are too full of bullies, then taking the kids to school and picking them up is the best, but not perfect, solution.

    Our country is deteriorating in many ways, and so is human nature.

  8. Floyd says:

    This really made me think what I would do if I had kids in school. For me, when it was time for middle school, the school was about 3 miles away. I’m guessing would be a little less than 1 hour walk, not too bad? It seemed like WAY farther than that to me! The other option was walking to my grandpa’s car shop, which was about 10 minutes away but did require me to walk through a neighborhood & commercial district not deemed as “safe.” Plus he didn’t really want a kid around the shop to entertain. Parents made up bad names for that neighborhood which made me nervous to walk through it as a kid. Now as an adult, I wouldn’t mind walking through it or sending my middle schooler through it, but I do remember a lot of assumptions and fear about around that neighborhood.

    My bestfriend’s mom always “chauffeured” her to and from school, so often I would catch a ride, kind of like a car pool. When she was sick or had an after-school event, It was the bus or walk to grandpa’s shop for me. I had some bad experiences on the bus, including getting someone’s left over lunch (juice and spaghetti included) intentionally dropped on my head because the girl in front of me didn’t like my hair. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but whatever, it still sucked. I really don’t know what I’d do with my own kids (if I had any). Part of me wants to say walk or take the bus, learn how to deal with difficult people, etc, but I always forget how hard it can be to be a kid sometimes. I’m still undecided.

  9. Laurie Bissonette says:

    Parents work, so grandparents and babysitters often pick children up at school. They are often not in walking distance or on a bus route from the school.

 

 
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