22 March, 2012

Slightly Off-Topic Rant

Throughout and intertwined with nearly every political narrative, national or local news story, or MPAA rating is a common thread - "Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?!"

I don't know how it works in other parts of the country (or the world, for that matter) but there is an epidemic in Southeastern Virginia - School Zones. They are EVERYWHERE. It is virtually impossible to travel from any one location to any other location in the hours most would consider reserved for transit from their homes to their jobs without passing through at least ONE, and sometimes SEVERAL school zones.

For anyone who has been living under a rock on Mars for the past fifty-some-odd years, a School Zone is designated generally by signage and amber blinking lights instructing drivers to slow from the regular speed limit (let's say 45 MPH) to the state-mandated urban residential neighborhood crawl of 25 MPH. I understand the basic premise that slower speeds may somehow prevent students who happen to live within each school's designated "walking" zones from being run over because their parents never taught them to look both ways before crossing, but strangely, I rarely see students actually WALKING up to the schools. Ever.

But never mind that. There appears to be a new and much more unnecessary purpose for these zones, and that is to facilitate all of the mommies and daddies whose little prodigies are too good to ride the bus. We no longer have JUST blinking signs and a ½-mile pub crawl, we have a crossing guard occupying space in the median stopping four lanes of traffic so that literally HUNDREDS of minivans and 2wd SUVs (a topic for another rant altogether) can queue into and out of the school's drop-off lane.

When did so many kids become too "cool" to ride the bus or so many parents become so helicopteringly overprotective that they have to actually see their children enter the school building each day to assuage some crippling fear that their child might be assaulted/abducted/injured... it borders on the ludicrous.

I remember as a child the ONLY time my mother drove me to school was when I MISSED the bus, and that was if she didn't make me walk the six-plus miles as PUNISHMENT. What happened in the past twenty years? Why are today's parents, the ones who are largely my "peers" and went to school under the same conditions that I did becoming such lameoids?

Every day the queue and the delay seems to get longer as I drive a stretch of road which, under even moderate conditions, takes about ten minutes to traverse. Sometimes there are mornings when that same trip takes over twenty minutes because of that asinine School Zone and the hundreds of inconsiderate, "I'm better, more important and my kids shouldn't have to ride the bus" interlopers.

All of this falls back to the most primary of arguments which is that public schools, on the whole, do more damage to students and communities as a whole than good. These school zones alone likely cost millions of dollars in lost man-hours and fuel spent idling as we wait for a white-gloved academy washout to flag us through an intersection choked with semi-luxury vehicles festooned with decals proclaiming whether their child is an honor student, student athlete, super citizen or gosh-darn special in any number of other ways.

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