Weds., Oct. 6, is International Walk to School Day!

Hi Folks! Yes, Wednesday is the day for kids to do what they used to do  without it requiring a special event. And let’s hope your school signs on without all the shenanigans of my friend’s school. There, any parent who wants to help out by, say, acting as a crossing guard, must first undergo a background check. Because obviously volunteering for a single day, outside, and molestation go hand in hand. Also: While her school is ENCOURAGING “Walk to School Wednesdays” it is FORBIDDING Walk to School Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Fridays. That’s right. Kids along the bus route are not ALLOWED to walk to school any other day.

Sigh.

It’s amazing how easy it is to take a nice, straightforward idea and turn it into a bureaucratic nightmare. But here’s hoping your kids, school and/or district have their feet on the ground — so to speak — and simply get started! Here’s some more info on the day and how to do things like start a “walking school bus.” Happy trails! (I’d walk to school Weds.,  but it’s about 14,000 miles. Flying home from Australia soon, though!) — Lenore

63 Responses

  1. My daughter’s elementary is the only school to sign up in the area for national walk day. It is a big city school. We always walk anyway. There are no buses to this school but the majority of kids get chauferred to school. Now if we could eventually get them to lift the ban on biking to school. . .

  2. Yep, nothing shows support fitness and independence like allowing it once a year.

    Maybe walking to school will become the new teenage rebellion.

  3. Seriously, though, sorry to double post, but this school clearly does not get the message. I’m glad they’ re doing it, but why are they doing it, when they clearly don’t think it’s a good idea? Peer pressure?

  4. Our school just stopped bus services for high schoolers to save money.

    I think all parents should walk with their kids to school, there are so many FAT parents out there who need to walk, and what a better way to spend a few more moments with your kids before they go to school. No need for crossing guards, each parents just walk with their kids to school. Simple, no need for a schedule or background check.

    My mom was a nurse and I was getting up on my own and getting my brother ready for school when i was 7 years old. Although I am grateful for the independence I learned, it was very lonely most of the time.

  5. As of this past year, I let my 10yo explore (always with a buddy) the woods behind our property and ride his bike to the local grocery store – on occasion. However, I won’t let him walk to/from school 1/2 mile away because 1) the pattern is too predictable for a predator looking for easy pickins’, 2) he’d be walking alone and 3) he hasn’t yet exhibited the emotional maturity, common sense and wit to handle similar situations where we got separated, although we’ve gone over emergency drills many times. It really depends on the kid and the situation.

  6. I’m just a lurker, never commented before, but wanted to now.

    My 7 year’s school is participating in this and they have no rules on who can walk or bike to school. My son has been wanting to walk to school since he started 2nd grade. We live about a mile away, and on Monday, we walked together, but I let him lead me, so that he knew where to go and all that. He did just fine. I don’t know what I was worried about. So from now on, weather permitting, he is going to be a walker.

  7. I’m with Cynthia – why would a school participate in walk to school day when they “forbid” walking on other days? What are they actually trying to accomplish? I’m completely baffled.

    I’m glad there are efforts going on to encourage walking to school. Hopefully by the time mine are at that stage it will be the norm again.

  8. My child’s school is actually giving out a prize to kids who walk to school on Wednesday. Every child who walks to school gets a ‘surprise,’ plus they get their name entered in a raffle and the grand prize is a scooter. That makes all the kids want to walk!

  9. The Houston school district requires paid crossing guards – mostly retirees who want to get out of the house for a couple of hours a day – to go thru the same background check as new-hire Houston Police officers. I suppose from a liability point of view this makes some kind of sense for employees – but one-day volunteers? Ridiculous.

    Keep in mind – as with the recent discussion about the GPS salesman – is that there is a financial incentive here for someone. Certainly these background checks are being done by someone in the private sector – suspecting the worse, I assume cronies of the school board and administration – and they aren’t doing it for free. Call it $500 for every volunteer background check (I’d bet it’s more than that) x 1000 volunteers for a medium-sized school district – that’s a half-million bucks that isn’t being spent on teachers and books.

    Of course, I’m a cynic about background checks. As a clerk/ typist on a nuclear submarine I had a Top Secret clearance, which I’ve read somewhere costs over $100,000. All my high-school buddies were in a tizzy when I went home on leave because the FBI had been nosing around asking questions about me. I passed on their offer of refuge (usually in the hayloft of a barn) and explained that I was getting a Top Secret security clearance. Given my rather well-known (in a small-town kind of way) history of teen drug use and anti-social behavior no one believed me. But everyone kept their mouths shut, and I got the clearance.

  10. “1) the pattern is too predictable for a predator looking for easy pickins’, ”

    I won’t even touch on the fear in this statement, but as a kid who walked to school starting at age 6, let me tell you there is no predictability in how kids walk home. I found all kinds of different routes home and things to distract me on the way. If somebody was setting their watch to my trips home, they were going to miss the sunset.

  11. Pfft, unles the weather is really lousy, every day is walk to school day. Walking is common and popular at our school for the people who live nearby–both for parents and kids alone. Even better–the bike rack at my children’s school is back!

  12. My daughter’s school is doing it. She is a kindergartener in a smallish private school. Since no one really lives close enough to walk from their home (we live a 15 minute drive away), the kids are meeting at the local bakery and walking together in a herd from there. The bakery is getting in on the action by giving free muffins to kids that bring in a can donation or a dollar for the local ministry to those in need.
    I really wanted our daughter to just jump in the group and walk along, but it seems all children must be accompanied by an adult. If our daughter wasn’t only 5 I might raise a fuss. As it is I am happy they are excited about the idea. I don’t know that anyone is forbidden from walking if they live close enough to the school.
    Now I am curious about our rules on such things.

  13. How do they enforce a ban on walking to school? Our school has a ban on biking to school for kids younger than third grade. But really, it is a ban on storing a bike at school for kids younger than third grade, because that’s the only thing they can enforce. (I’m not at all sure that they do enforce it, either.)

  14. I’m with jhm: where does a school get off dictating to parents how kids get to and from school? I’d like to hear from parents in such situations, to know how that works.

    I’d tell my kids “lock your bikes to fences and trees:” screw admins & their nannying ways.

  15. My school is participating by stopping the buses a few blocks from the school so the kids that choose to can walk. Of course, if you don’t want to, they will bus you the last few blocks.
    My kid walks everyday. He gets annoyed about walk to school day because the get a sticker and he won’t. He walks from the other direction.

    I think last year he rode his bike to school just to spite “walk” to school day.

  16. the school gets the idea that they can dictate and nanny the kids because lousy parents give them the excuse. How many city schools have to offer breakfast because parents can’t seem to feed their kids or have something the kids can make themselves at home? In our school district teachers can’t even get the parents to show up to the parent teacher conference twice a year. They think they have to make up rules on walking to school because in our district we have five year olds walking all alone from school to home and home to school, and in my neighborhood that isn’t safe. We do have sexual predators and crime. Not everyone lives in suburbia.

    How many kids are in after school programs because their parents can’t make it in time to be home for their kids at a decent hour? Kids are in school until 6pm at night, thanks to all the after school programs. We need to quit depending on the schools to take care of our kids, then maybe schools would think twice about nannying every situation. We brought this on ourselves.

  17. My godson’s children walk the four blocks to school, but their mother insists that they be picked up after school because it is “too far to walk home”.
    I didn’t mind driving over to the school today for them. We got a sudden rainstorm. Then when they got home, the found a puddle and splashed it all over themselves.

  18. My kid’s elementary school is participating in this. They are going to drop off the bus riders about 1/2 mile from the school and let them walk the rest of the way. My kids always walk about 1 mile each way.

  19. Wait, WHAT? They won’t LET you walk? How can they even enforce that? What if I was choosing to drive my kid because he/she had issues with riding the bus?

    Again, WHAT?!? You can’t WALK if you’re on the bus route? That is PUBLIC property. They have no rights to even TRY to enforce that. Any parent with a child in a school that tries that baloney will hopefully realize the crock they are being fed and just laugh at that “rule.” That’s like saying the kids can’t stay up past 8 pm at home on school nights. How do they get off trying to control the children before or after school hours???

  20. This has nothing to do about today’s post (at least not directly) but I wanted to share with everyone I can about the film “Race to Nowhere.” I saw it last night at a screening in my city and it does an excellent job of highlighting the type of pressure kids get in school (and from their parents and colleges) to excel beyond their abilities.

    It especially speaks to the fact that most kids are so closely watched, monitored and evaluated (by their parents and the schools) that they don’t even have time to play. I’m not surprised that they don’t get to walk to school: where would they find the time in their overscheduled, overtaxed young lives? It’s a very sad commentary on the state of the nation’s schools and misguided governement policies to improve them.

    Another point the film discussed was that because parents micromanage every aspect of their children’s lives, the kids don’t possess simple life skills or the ability to make their own decisions or function when they get to college and don’t have their parents helping them make every decision. Just another reason to promote the freerange lifestyle in my opinion (and homeschooling, too, but that’s another discussion).

    You can find more about the documentary at the “Race to Nowhere” website. I figure any film that keeps me up at night discussing it with my husband and then thinking about it even more the next day is worth watching.

  21. I am proud to say that my 9 year old fouth grader started to walk to and from school last year. All I had to do was sign a permission slip.

    I have noticed how much more mature he has become. He is able to follow directions and make decisions for himself.

    I refuse to baby him. I want him to understand that I won’t always be around to solve all his problems so he has to know how. I raised my other son the same way he is now 26 and I could not be prouder of all that he has done with his life.

  22. HOW can they enforce such a ban for the elementary school? By ensuring it’s impossible for anyone to walk. No sidewalks. Isolated school site. On roads with high speed limits.

    Oh, and they want to move the high school out of the core downtown to the same desolate location.

    Since I’m the pro-walkable school sites person locally, everyone wants to know if I’m organizing a walk to school day event. No. I’m struggling to keep the most walkable school in the district where it is. No point in buying into the token, one-day-only lip service events otherwise (hurrah, the kids get to walk around the playing field out in the boonies).

  23. My daughter and her Robotics team tried to start a walking school bus. The principal put in so many things that had to be done first from background checks for Megan’s Law to lists of “acceptable parents”, TB testing, etc. The kids abandoned the idea. So many people drive that there is always a massive traffic jam. Pathetic since very few live further than walking distance as that was how to school was designed.

  24. My kids’ school is doing a walk to school event tomorrow. I would love it if they could walk everyday but they go to a magnet school about 3 miles away with not a sidewalk in sight. We meet at a neighborhood church about 1/2 mile from the school and walk as a group. The kids are supposed to have a parent in attendance but not everyone does- even my kindergarteners think it’s silly that Mom has to go too. The kids love it, it’s fun and it’s not a fundraiser so I can’t complain.

  25. This issue really irritates me.

    Our schools are participating and really talking it up. It’s FOR THE CHILDREN, after all. But I have to admit I don’t grok the point of Walk to School Day if a student can’t actually walk to the school.

    In our small southern US town, the schools used to be in the actual town itself, centrally located. Many, many families lived close enough for the kids to walk, and a lot of them walked. Some rode bikes. The kids out in the country rode buses, and a few kids were parent drop-offs. Until fairly recently the drop-off rate was low enough that there weren’t huge car lines that required a bunch of teachers to direct traffic. You could pretty much just drive up and have the child hop out unless it was really pouring rain.

    (What did they do with the old school buildings, you ask? They sold them to a community college with a 90% commuter rate, thereby ensuring horrible parking problems all over our “still vibrant” downtown area, much to the delight of local merchants.)

    Anyway, but now here they’ve gone built the new schools on the edges of the city limits, and the middle school and high school are on a very busy highway with no sidewalks except right around the schools themselves. There is one small neighborhood of starter homes with sidewalk access to these two schools. Unfortunately, most of the children in this neighborhood are young, and they’re probably a couple of miles as the crow flies to their school–further if you don’t expect them to trudge through woods and farmer’s fields. The elementary school is bordered by two huge retirement villages, and the rest of the surrounding area is commercial. There are sidewalks there, but almost no children live anywhere nearby. This entire set-up is walkable to very few.

    I think that the whole drive-someplace-park-and-then-walk-with-a-group is a bit silly. It’s just another pointless gesture that doesn’t really mean anything. Since when is this enough?

    If we put half the effort into planning than we do into some of this really silly stuff, we’d all benefit.

  26. My five-year-old daughter is walking to school today, but then she also walked by herself yesterday and will do it again tomorrow.

    In a recent school newsletter parents were cautioned again not to drive their children to school and to actively encourage their kids to walk by themselves or in a small group – without parents.

    But then we live in Switzerland.

  27. Thought you all would appreciate this article: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2009/06/29/walking-school-bus-searches-ways-find-funds/

    It’s about a walking school bus program at a school in Missouri that needed to raise $75K so it could continue. The money was needed so they could get a) a paid coordinator; b) interns; c) snacks for the walkers; d) background checks.

    Glad theyr’e walking to school, but $75K? Really?? I would have thought the article was a parody but apparently it’s real. Anyone know what happened?

  28. Every time I read articles like this, it makes me glad that I live in Germany.

    When I lived in San Diego, the elementary school in my area was about a 10 minute (at most) walk from my house. But the kids were required to either be driven by their parents or take the school bus because it was “too dangerous to walk.” The kids had to (horror of horrors!) cross a main street with a traffic light. Then the parents complained about traffic congestion at the dropoff/pickup point for the school.

    Contrast this to where I live in Germany. Kids in first grade walk to school daily, either alone or with friends or siblings and even have to cross busy streets. When kids here are in kindergarten (preschool) they go out with their classes in town and learn about street crossing safety. By the time they’re in first grade, they know when and when not to cross the street. The kids even walk to school in inclement weather–they simply wear waterproof clothing and carry an umbrella. Like Kate Paine’s school in Switzerland, my son’s elementary school encouraged parents to have their kids walk, ride scooters, or ride bikes to school because of limited parking.

  29. America, land of the free? It seems that liberal America has more rules than most European countries. If a Dutch school would ban biking to school all hell would break loose. It’s my child so I’ll decide whether he/she can walk/bike to school. I don’t understand why American parents let schools treat them like little children….

  30. “I think that the whole drive-someplace-park-and-then-walk-with-a-group is a bit silly. It’s just another pointless gesture that doesn’t really mean anything. Since when is this enough? ”

    Bravo ! Finally, someone with thinking abilities. This whole notion of having this day planned and arranged is ridiculous. Pretending to walk that one day by dropping off at a location a little away from school for people that live too far is beyond common sense. Who is helped by this action?

    I am worried about this country and all those people that think they can compensate bad trends by installing even more “events”, “policies”, or “rules”.
    It is like Christians that only show up to Church at Christmas.

    You either like the idea of walking or you don’t. Why has everything to be so overcomplicated.
    Walking in the US is a long forgotten skill. Noone walks here unless for “exercise” or for a charity events. Most areas are not laid out to make walking a common habit to get from A to B. There are insufficient side walks, drivers do not pay attention to bikers and walkers, and the few areas that actually allow for walking and biking are just that – too few.

    Do not make “walking to school” just another awareness day. Our kids and their daily well-being is not just another charity case that you can help by fundraising or making an official awareness day out of it.There are way too many of those anyways in this country. It just does not mean anything, anymore.

    The only thing kids learn is that walking requires so much effort (because of the need to follow all these rules) and that if you do it you deserve a reward, a muffin, candy or whatever they hand out to the walkers. Walking to school is not an accomplishment, it does not require a reward. It is an action that is a normal means of transportation in most countries of the world. Treat it as such. Let your kids be kids. Stop this nonsense.

    To me this just means people have way too much time to occupy themselves with unreasonable things if they find they time to organize these events. Isn’t there something more worthwhile to do?

  31. I think most kids don’t want to school because it would take up too much time, and their parents have scheduled a ridiculous amount of activities for them after school like ballet, soccer etc. If they walked home they would prob be late for all their activities. It’s ridiculous. It’s not the schools fault, it’s the insanity of parents today.

  32. This is the city to which we are relocating next spring. I am soooo happy that this was in the local paper there! I think I’m going to be just fine with the schools.

    http://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=4001

    The city master plan is dedicated to get ALL citizens out walking and biking more. The goal is to have everyone not more than a half mile to a neighborhood park, and not more than three miles to a city park, and that every home be within 10 blocks of a bike path spur and 3 blocks of a bike route. Love love love.

  33. They also have an incentive called No Child Left Inside. I can. not. WAIT to move. But yay! We’ll be there for the start of boyo’s kindergarten year.

  34. http://www.clickondetroit.com/video/25277368/index.html

    (school secrets for keeping kids safe—if it doesn’t show up)

  35. Wow Natasha, for someone who states she lives in an unsafe neighborhood for walking/being alone, indicating perhaps low-income families, you demonstrate a remarkable lack of compassion for parents who can’t afford full cupboards, and who must work, don’t have the flexibility to say to a boss, “I have to leave by 2:30 to pick up my child.” if they want to continue HAVING a boss ie. a paycheck at all.

    We did bring it on ourselves, but I don’t agree with the manner. By allowing the gap between rich and poor to become the widest it has ever been, where 90% of our population fights for 10% of the country’s wealth, and by blaming low-income and unemployed parents for their own situation, rather than looking at policies which encourage sending jobs away, and underpaying employees, society as a whole has set up a system where privileged children have parents who are home and the rest of the kids have parents who have to work a lot for a little tiny bit of money.
    In this situation, who else is going to feed the kids? And should they sit in school hungry, unable to concentrate? Who else is going to be there to help with homework after school? Should they go sit alone at home, with tv, video games, and no supervision, bored, not understanding their math and becoming further disengaged?
    Kids are the responsibility of the society. They are our collective future.

  36. Thank you, gramonster.

  37. In our school district, all schools require parents to fill out 2 forms to be able to attend class parties, go on field trips, or volunteer at the school (basically anything other than pick up or drop off your child). One is a confidentiality agreement and the other is for a background check. I am all for looking after the kids but background checks to go to class parties is beyond ridiculous.

    The worst part is we live in a county that has very low crime rates – especially violent crimes. There just isn’t anything to justify that kind of paranoia

  38. Gramomster-
    There is no point fighting and complaining about school rules when the school has had to step up to the plate because parents are irresponsible.

    Complaining because the school has too many rules (walking to school, the school needs to get out of parents business) YET you want the school to feed kids and babysit after school hours?

    No I don’t want kids to go hungry and be home alone. I want parents to be there for their kids, you know take responsibility for the children they bring into the world.

    Where is the school to draw the line? Provide kids with their basic necessities like food and education ( which is a parents responsibility) and also provide the transportation to the place of education, but they should NOT put restrictions on kids walking to school. It’s a slippery slope.

    We can’t just take and take from the school system and expect them to meet our needs but then jump down their throats when they become too overbearing and nosy.

    And for my lack of compassion, perhaps that because I am a stay at home mom ( have been since before my first was born) I have a husband that takes responsibility and provides for us ( yes even health insurance) My husband has ZERO college degrees, yet somehow manages to provide for us without any financial help from his wife or his parents or any govt agency.

    The children in the after school program I worked at, had parents driving up in decent cars, nails all done, hair done, and cell phones, all while dropping their kids off at the school at 6am. Oh yeah and none of those kids had breakfast, the parents relied on the school to feed them. Your description of the truly poor ( people who have no other options, they don’t have cars or cell phones, and they don’t get their nails and hair done, no cable, and people who stay in their marriage instead of having babies with a couple of different men) are NOT the majority.

    Yes we want our kids to be independent, yet we don’t expect adults to be independent.

  39. I’m really glad we home school. I know most of our neighborhood walks to school in all kinds of weather (and the majority without parents) but it seems to be becoming more and more common for kids.

    I can’t imagine kids not walking to school when they live close by and have access to safe walk ways. The congestion that all the dropping off creates is a traffic hazard. We have police directing traffic int he mornings and afternoons at almost all of our schools (big city with lots of schools) because of the traffic congestion. It’s crazy. Those officers could be doing a lot more productive things than directing traffic if people would just encourage their kids to walk the mile or so they drove to school.

    As a kid I not only walked (or biked) to and from school but I crossed busy streets without a crosswalk light or crossing guards and I walked home and back for lunch several times a week. No permission slip, rules or anything from the school. This was in the 80’s so really not that long ago.

    I know I would pitch a fit at any school my kids went to that attempted to ban walking to school. That’s not the schools job. If some parents find it unsafe then fine they shouldn’t send their kids walking but it’s not their call or the schools to prevent others from walking, riding a bike or hoping on one foot to get there.

  40. Natasha, working two or three jobs to keep a roof over your head is not being “irresponsible”. Being out at all hours to find a job – and not being able to feed your children in the interim – is not being “irresponsible”.

    Spreading false shame, however, IS.

  41. As far as “the poor are NOT the majority”, do you realize that 40% of this country has less than 1% of the wealth?

    Let me say that again: 40% of the country controls less than 1% of all the wealth of this country.

    The next poorest 20% of this country has about 5% of the wealth. 85% of the assets in this country are owned by 20% of the people.

    Your ideas of who the “majority” are are very, very skewed.

    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/09/poor-people-are-much-poorer-than-you-think/

  42. my kids, 4 and 2, cycle to school every day, so doesn’t mean much to us

  43. “do you realize that 40% of this country has less than 1% of the wealth?”

    Do you realize that 75% of the people who were in the bottom 20% 10-15 years ago are in the top 40% today? Do you realize that of those in the top 1% today, 75% will not be there 3 years from now? “Rich” and “poor” are arbitrarily defined groups; they are not actual flesh and blood people. Actual flesh and blood people move in and out of income and wealth categories over a lifetime. As far as actual flesh and blood people are concerned, most who are in the
    “poor” category today will earn more as they gain more work experience and skills (especially true of immigrants as they gain English skills) and save; the only exception is the permanent underclass, which makes up about 25% of the currently poor. I say “currently poor,” becuase other than this small permanent underclass, the poor of today are not the poor of tomorrow.

    I don’t know to whom you are responding and if s/he said something inane or not; I just wanted to point out that these ideas of horrendous wealth disparity do not take into account the fact that people make less money when they are young, newly immigrated, etc. – but that changes over time; it does not take into account the wealth the wealthy create for others either.

  44. Ah, went back and read. Uly, she means the very poor are not the majority of people who use after school care. The majority of people who use after school care are yuppies – families with two moderate-to-high income earners. This is my experience in my area, too, but it may not be the case in other school systems. But the poor are also not the “majority” of the country. The middle-class is still a majority in this country. And most people who are poor today will be in the middle-class within the next fifteen years, if the trends of the past 100 years continue.

  45. I wish our neighbors across the street did this. They have a 9 year old and a 7 year old, boy and girl. The elementary school is 2 blocks away… But yet mom insists she must go pick them up every day in her van, wait in the pick up line, and drive them back…2 stinkin blocks… UGHHHHHHHH

  46. So if a parent decided to be a crossing guard for a day…without a background check……What are the repercussions?

    Does the school call the cops? suspend the student? if the parent is OFF of school property, is there really ANYTHING the school can do?

    Also, why do parents even LISTEN to schools who do not allow kids to walk? What is the school going to do? suspend a student for NOT getting a ride? Have the parent arrested for neglect?

    I think I’m in a very argumentative mood today, but if my kid went to a school like that I would FLAGRANTLY break those rules and teach my kid to be safe and sane in their own behaviors. If the situation was right I would kick him out the door to walk every morning and refuse to show up to pick him up after school if they wont let him walk home.

    Sometimes it IS better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

  47. But the poor are also not the “majority” of the country. The middle-class is still a majority in this country.

    I don’t think so. Wealth disparities in this country are so great that, as you’ll note in the link, you can’t even show the poorest two quintiles on the chart. They’re so very poor that they don’t even show up.

  48. As an Australian parent and educator I am appalled that American schools are banning children from walking or biking to school. On what grounds can they do that?

    For a country that proclaims it the land of the free you seem to have a lot of rules and regulations to inhibit that said freedom. Sorry but it is bizarre and sends a negative message to the students and families.

  49. “International” walk to school day??

    Ummm, it’s the middle of the school holidays here in New Zealand, so unfortunately it can’t apply to us. :-)

  50. [*clears throat* troll alert. #justsayin]

    The boy walks everyday. I convinced a couple neighbor parents to let their kids walk. Walk to school day is to pacify parents who have to fight the system at schools that ban walking.

  51. Stupid question from my side: Why is “full time work and kids” mutually exclusive in your view? You make it sound sometimes like the only two options for successful kid raising are stay at home or home school and maybe part time. Unless for “financial reasons” you do not tolerate anything else… that bothers me.

  52. ElsieKay: The reason for banning kids from walking or biking to school probably has to do with insurance coverage. In all US states, every motor vehicle must carry liability insurance, so if a kid gets hurt arriving to school in a bus or car, he/she is covered by motor vehicle insurance and the school is off the hook for being sued. On the other hand, if a kid gets hurt (even if it’s something as minor as a scraped knee or a stubbed toe) walking or biking to school, the school (really the school’s liability carrier) is legally responsible for damages.

    A more conspiracy-minded person would say that the car companies and oil companies profit from such an arrangement.

  53. ebohlman – Where does their liability come from?

    Has any school, that has not instituted policies around walking or biking to school, been successfully sued for an injury to a child that did not happen on school property and did not involve a staff person or volunteer associated with the school?

  54. This just appeared in our paper today:

    http://www.pnj.com/article/20101007/NEWS01/10070308/1006/NEWS01/Students-trade-bus-seats-for-walking-shoes

    I don’t know if this was supposed to coincide with the walk to school day or not, the article made no mention of it that I saw. It’s a good start!

  55. From today’s news:

    More than a year after the technical end of the Great Recession, millions of Americans still have a hard time stretching their dollars until the first of the month, or even the next payday.
    One in seven Americans lives in poverty, and more than 41 million are on food stamps, a record. Last year the figure was about 35 million.

    I’ve taught Sociology for the last several years. These are issues I’m intimately familiar with. The average age of a homeless person in this country is 5. Homeless families are far less visible than the mentally ill/addicted population. FIVE. And those kids go to school somewhere too.

  56. “On the other hand, if a kid gets hurt (even if it’s something as minor as a scraped knee or a stubbed toe) walking or biking to school, the school (really the school’s liability carrier) is legally responsible for damages.”

    Is this really true? I cannot imagine how something that happens off school property, outside school hours, that is not done at the behest of the school (the child was not being forced to walk to school, nor under the care of the school) could create liability for the school. Even in our crazy-mixed-up litigious society, I’m finding this a bit hard to swallow.

  57. Besides, if this is true, then a kid or parent who is hurt driving to school would also create the very same kind of legal liability. The school’s involvement is equal — they are requiring the child to get to school, and somebody gets hurt in the process. And I have an even harder time believing that’s true.

  58. Not sure why a discussion about walking to school became diverted into a critique of parents who use after school care. I am one of those parents, and I am in no way abdicating my parental responsibilities to the school. My kids can play with their friends and do their homework at after-school, and then when we are home we can focus on family activities like cooking dinner together. Often they are having so much fun at after-school they complain if I show up early. And we pay for after-school care, it’s not like we’re expecting something for nothing. Think about it this way: we’re providing much needed employment to the after-school workers (who are not the regular teachers). Don’t criticize other families’ choices that you know nothing about.

    But, back to the main topic: My 1st grader and I walked to school (I took my bike along to save time on the way back). We live just a couple of blocks too far for her to go alone, and I don’t have the time to go with her every day, otherwise she would love to do it every day (although she’s quite happy on the bus too). My 5th grader couldn’t walk to school because there are no sidewalks on the roads to her school, so she took the bus as usual.

  59. perhaps all those kids who are barred from walking to school will in the future sue for being obese or having diabetes, they will claim their right to exercise was denied to them by the Education Department.

  60. LOVE IT Elsie!!! The same could be said for dropping PE and recess!!

    And the queries regarding liability for off-campus incidences—what’s to prevent them from suing the state, rather than just the school, for their compulsory laws that require the child to be there on threat of DSS involvement/removal? If they weren’t required by law to be there the theoretical incident would never have occurred, right?? ;)

  61. My 7 year old son walked to school yesterday because he missed the bus. We live in a community with virtually no crime and he walked on a bike path with limited traffic danger.

    At 1:00pm we were visited by child protective services and informed that an action may be filed in the courts by the DA for child endangerment.

    Our child declined help from a fireman but was forced into a sherif vehicle against his will and driven to his school. This was very unfortunate as we have always taught him NOT to enter a car with strangers even if they are dressed as law enforcement officials.

    Comments anyone?

  62. [...] on top of that.Who would you like to see on City Council?******As a follow up to last week’s Walk to School Day, “Free-Range Kids” author Lenore Skenazy hears from parents who took part.******A man [...]

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