Safe Sax? Impossible, Says School Bus Company

Readers — Here’s the wildest “safety” story of the day: A middle school kid has been told he can’t take his sax on the school bus, because it is a safety hazard. Apparently the bus is already crowded, but somehow the sax makes it TOO crowded to ride safely, even though it fits under the seat.

The company refunded the boy’s bus fare so his parents can simply drive him and his infernal instrument to school, but as his mom notes:

“They are making it difficult because I work. I work full time. Do I have to quit my job or does he have to quit band?”

I’ve got another idea: How about letting the boy ride the bus and, with a little bit of maneuvering, fit the sax under his seat? A crowded bus can be annoying, but to insist that adding an instrument makes it DANGEROUS is nutty.

And also: Let’s not assume that parents can or, in many cases, even should drive their kids to school. If kids can get to school by foot or bike or bus, the school should encourage THAT, not another car in the endless drop-off line.

I realize this is just one strange story, but it reminds us that our knee-jerk response to any less-than-ideal kiddie circumstance should not be to ring the danger bell and holler for the parents to make everything perfect. — L.

The sweet sound of a bus company's worst nightmare.

New Law to “Protect” Kids from Germs Would Kill Band Program

Hi Readers — Get ready to start gnashing. A bill in Massachusetts would require all schools there to “professionally” sterlize their band isntruments, according to this article in the Wicked Local Sumerville (great name!). And guess what? Only one company in Massachusetts does this.

The owner of that company, a dentist, insists that without this pricey sterilization — $20-$30 per instrument and done twice a year — children’s health is at risk. But an epidemilogist at the Mass. Department of Public Health, Alfred DiMaria,  points out in the article that:

…there has never been a documented outbreak of illness associated with shared band instruments, and it is very unlikely outbreaks have gone undetected by health departments across the country….”There is no evidence that it’s a problem. I can’t argue that it’s [not] a theoretical possibility, but we don’t really mandate things are theoretical.”

Ah, but there is the rub: Increasingly, we do. Just look at the story a few posts below this one — the one where a Florida school won’t let a child walk out of school to his or her parent’s car without an escort, just “in case” something bad COULD happen. Or look at the schools that ban tag, “in case” someone could get hurt. Look at the new Federal law insisting that every part of every item sold to children be tested for lead, just “in case” a child eats his sock, or the insole of her shoe. Look at all the park districts that have uprooted their see-saws and merry-go-rounds “in case” of an accident. “What if???” hysteria is driving us mad with unnecessary precaution.

Mind you, the Massachusetts schools already DO sterilize their instruments according to the manufacturers’ guidelines. This “professional” sterilization is just an extra, unnecessary, pricey step — one that could bankrupt some schools’  band programs.

Talk about a cure that’s worse than the disease. Particularly when there isn’t any disease to begin with. — Lenore