“Pick-Up” Insanity at an Ordinary Suburban School

Today’s zhznyryrnb
post comes to us from Reilly Capps, a writer in Denver finishing a book about couch surfing, which, he notes, “involves lots of trusting complete strangers.” Trust is not this school’s forte. — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m not a parent, only an uncle, but today a question presented itself at my niece’s new school:

When did picking up a kid from school turn into such a grueling, hyper-orchestrated ordeal? When did fear of accident or abduction necessitate so many onerous rules?

At my niece’s school, the parents are required to stay in their cars, with a number on the windshield, which a volunteer messages inside to let the teacher know that a parent is here, and that it is “safe” to “release” the child from school.

Then the children are sent out one at a time, and a volunteer checks that every child goes into the car with the appropriate number. Meaning 600 parents are stuck in idling cars in a single-file line, slowly inching forward, picking up 600 kids, one at a time (virtually nobody walks). Meaning the kids don’t hang out casually with each other after school, making new friends. Meaning each parent spends thirty minutes in a car, doing nothing, admonished if they attempt to get out and stretch. Meaning I was stuck with a toddler in the back seat screaming for juice or snacks — which of course I forgot — for half an hour. Meaning that parents, too, never mingle, and instead are just treated like anonymous chauffeurs, or eyed suspiciously as frothing kidnappers or vehicular maniacs bent on running down hordes of children.

(The rest of this email is a bit of venting and a little hyperbole, Lenore, but most of it is true.)

Does not this system cause other caregivers besides me to get into tense verbal tussles with administrators? Don’t we all screw up the protocol at some point — drop-offs drive EAST and pick-ups drive WEST? And don’t a bunch of us, flummoxed, with a screaming toddler melting down, decide to get out of our cars — firmly against the rules — and just walk to the school? And don’t all of our heartbeats jump to 205 after the school secretary, clearly wary of our intentions, asks to see a drivers license, then methodically notes the number, then calls the child’s mother at work to see if we are “on the list,” then does a full criminal background check and cavity search on us, certain that we are ruthless abductors on a kidnapping spree — and not simply incompetent uncles? (I mean, okay: the sweat-drenched brow, the wrinkled plaid shirt, the two-day stubble, the hungry toddler kicking in the arms does suggest “weekend dad” or “partial custody.” But does it really suggest “kidnapper”? ) And doesn’t this system make us all feel like criminals? Instead of like members of a school community?

And when the child is finally “released” to us, don’t we all bicker immaturely with the school secretary, saying, “When did this happen? Isn’t this all a little much, for simply picking up a child from a school? Are you sure you got enough from me? Don’t you want to do a polygraph? Some DNA? Before you ‘release’ my niece to me, can you cut off her ankle bracelet?” And then, heart racing and sweating even more, aren’t we all politely asked to leave the building?

No? Just me? – R.C.

Why is school pick-up treated like a maximum security prison exercise?

School pick-up or maximum security prison exercise?

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143 Responses to “Pick-Up” Insanity at an Ordinary Suburban School

  1. Forsythia October 2, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    This is why I used to park four or five blocks out when dropping or picking up the kids in the car – a rare occurrence. There was also much fit throwing by other parents because I was allowed to pull up and park in a different area when my kids were on crutches, but others were turned away. Of course, I mostly walked the kids and didn’t play this game.

  2. SKL October 2, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Remember when “school pick-up line” was a new thing, a seemingly illogical and dangerous one? In what world is it a good idea to have a ton of cars in the place where kids are exiting school?

    My kids’ school has the kids wait outside with teachers as the parents dutifully go through the very slow pick-up lines (there’s a line on each side of the school to make it a little faster). I waited in it one time (my kids’ first day at their current school). Never again. My kids go to the school’s aftercare program, where I do have to go in and sign them out. But that’s a lot faster and less irritating than the pick-up line.

  3. pentamom October 2, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Once again I give thinks that I live in a place where far too many people can’t afford cars or have to have all adults in the household work full time, in order for any school official to be able to DREAM of implementing such nonsense.

    Not, that is, that I’m happy that other people are living under such conditions, but given that such people exist in the real world, I’m glad I live in a place where their existence is recognized, and acts as a damper on some of the more idiotic policies out there.

  4. Maggie October 2, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Makes me glad that I live in an area where kids walk to school, WITHOUT their parents, and the rules are not so absurd.

    However, I fear this will slowly become the norm across the country.

  5. Abby October 2, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    I live in one of the safest suburban communities around, very family oriented with lots of kids. The school bus stops at every little sub-divisiion of my community to pick kids up and drop them off, and every day, twice a day, there are cars lined up blocking traffic because God forbid their 9 year old have to walk a whole 2 blocks in broad daylight, virtually no traffic, and a crowd of a whole bunch of other 9 year olds. I thought that the school bus existed so that parents wouldn’t have to deal with that?

  6. Layne October 2, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    That reminds me of the scene in Mr. Mom, “South to drop off, you moron!” or maybe it was north. Something like that.

  7. pentamom October 2, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    “Meaning each parent spends thirty minutes in a car, doing nothing, admonished if they attempt to get out and stretch.”

    For whatever odd reason, some people apparently don’t have a problem doing this. I sometimes go by the local elementary school (which does not have this policy) a full half hour before dismissal and see cars beginning to line up on the adjacent street. The only possible rationale I could imagine for this is working or having business on the other side of town that ends an hour before pickup time, and not wanting to go home in between. But how common can that be? Apparently a lot of people have nothing better to do with their time, and with policies like the one in the OP becoming more popular, they’re being trained to think that way even if they didn’t before.

  8. Selby October 2, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Remind me to kiss the bus when it arrives this afternoon.

  9. Earth.W October 2, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    That is insane!

  10. Dave October 2, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    I am so glad that my grandchildren can get to and from school without all of this drama. My 14 year old takes to trains and ferry. My 10 year old walks by herself a 1/2 mile or more to school alone and my 9 year old walks two blocks alone. Independent children making their way through the world at the appropriate age. We live in Brooklyn NY.

  11. BL October 2, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Everybody must stay in line and follow orders, or else we will have chaos, which could lead to dancing.

  12. Captain America October 2, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    It’s just a senseless, anti-common sense notion about safety.

    As a kid, for me the best part of the day was sometimes just walking to and from school.

  13. Jeanette October 2, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Nothing frosts me more than seeing empty buses lumbering around. The “transportation” part of the school budget is for buses. Schools are mandated to have enough buses to carry the entire student body. YOU, parents who drive kids to school, are part of the problem! You are driving up school taxes by not utilizing services they are mandated to provide! I remember kids getting on the bus with crutches and projects. Hell, we had a girl in a wheelchair ride our bus! They *should* wait in an insufferable line; next time they will decide their time is more valuable and better spent doing something else, put their foot down & tell the kids to ride the bus! I work outside of the home & could get there sooner if I drove the kid; that’s not happening! I am putting gas into & insurance on that thing, not to mention paying a driver, so he’s riding until further notice! That being said, the number on the windshield, one at a time business is baloney. My kid wouldn’t get into a strange car. This is a knee-jerk reaction to hysterical parents at school board meetings. So again, thank yourselves, hysterics.

  14. Sarah October 2, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    We have the drop off and pick up line at my son’s school. Under no circumstances are we allowed to walk them to class in the morning, their teachers send a notebook back and forth with their behavior reports for the day. The only way for me to communicate with the teacher is by note. I despise this system, since when could I not interact with my child’s teacher? My son has ADHD and when I asked if I could come to the classroom to observe I was told no. Now his behavior has gotten worse (according to his teacher) than it has ever been in school before. It is a horrible system, my child is not a prisoner, yet he is treated like one. (They are not allowed to talk at lunch either, they must be silent)

  15. BL October 2, 2013 at 10:36 am #


    So prison inmates can receive visitors, but not schoolchildren (at your child’s school, at least).

    Draw your own conclusions.

  16. Eileen October 2, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    I’d be curious to know why all those parents (including the niece in the story) don’t let their kids ride the bus.

  17. Eileen October 2, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    But to cut to the chase, the schools do this because parents have put the fear in them for ever releasing the child to an unauthorized adult.

    I work with a guy (in another state) who works from home (as do I). He’s got Elem school kids. He asked me the other day how I felt about the idea that the bus had just dropped off the kids w/o him being present. (They are dropped off in front of his house, but he’s got a “very long driveway”.) He was very upset. I told him my kids always got off the bus alone and that there would be no way for a school system the size of ours to do otherwise. This same person was upset when his kids went out ahead of him one morning, and got on the bus when it arrived (rather than waiting for him) but before he came to meet them. In both cases he called the school and transportation office to complain.

    This is all insanity to me…but these are the parents who are making sure schools have these elaborate systems to ‘protect’ the kids.

  18. CrazyCatLady October 2, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    So glad that homeschooling and buses (and legs) are options! My daughter did ride the bus, but she was the last one on in the morning and first off in the afternoon. She had friends though, who just lived up the block who drove.

    Some of the kids, I understood. The bus came past their mountain bus stop at 5:50 in the morning. Which meant getting up, getting dressed, eating a healthy breakfast, getting book bag packed and waiting a few minutes ahead of time because it might be early – which meant getting up somewhere around 5:00 am. And, because they were eating so early, it also meant that they were hungry WAY before lunch time.

    I now have a neighbor who has opted, because she is planning on selling her house, to enroll her kids where they would be living with family when the house sells. So that means she has to take them all into school every day.

    But both of these two above issues are just not the norm for most people. Seems a lot easier to let the kids walk home or ride the bus to me, in most cases.

  19. Jennifer in Portland October 2, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    Wow, that’s crazy. Pickup here is nothing like that. Why does anyone put up with that?!

  20. Susan2 October 2, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    To answer the “why don’t they take the bus?” comments – not sure if this is the case at this school, but more and more school districts are charging a hefty annual fee to parents whose kids take the school bus or cutting out school bus service all together.

  21. Sarah in WA October 2, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    We live too close to our school to qualify for bus service (due to budget cuts). I dropped my son off at school once, and won’t do that again. Yesterday, we braved driving rain in order to walk there, but it was totally worth it. It’s just so nice to walk right by that huge line of cars while they’re just sitting there and we can keep moving.

    Our school organizes walking groups for going home, so not all parents have to show up every day. The idea is that one or two parents will basically be there each time and people will somewhat take turns. In our community, it actually does work out pretty well. Once a student is in 3rd grade, the parent can also sign a release so that the child can ride or walk home on their own. It’s sad that a release is necessary, but at least the school gives the option.

  22. North of 49 October 2, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    A lot of school districts have busses for kids, but only past the “cut off” distance. For my kids’ school, that’s 1.7 or 1.9 KM. We’re just past that, so they are technically supposed to provide a bus stop from our door to the school. They don’t and the kids have to walk to the bus stop. I had to petition to get it too because they had cancelled it the year before. I had to remind them of their own policies about “nearest walkable road.” As the crow flies, the kids are under the limit, but that means going down a very steep and dangerous hill.

    Anyway… the principal has been handing out free Starbucks cups to parents that drop off the kids, but only those who drive as far forward as possible in the parking lot to do so. Too many parents drop off at the door and that causes a backlog and cranky parents and more importantly, a danger to all the kids.

    Then there’s what happened yesterday. Our littlest, 7, missed the bus home yesterday cause of her teacher, so the VP called us up and asked us what we wanted to do. Now, littlest is the same age as eldest was when he started to walk home alone, but we’re not sure if she can do it yet cause each child is different, so we decided to go and get her yesterday, but I left the option open with the VP that next time, she’d walk home and call the school when she got here. The VP liked that idea. See, she even offered to drop our littlest off for us, which, although we appreciate, does not foster independence in the children.

    Next time? She’s walking.

  23. vjhr October 2, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    SKL said: “My kids go to the school’s aftercare program, where I do have to go in and sign them out. But that’s a lot faster and less irritating than the pick-up line.”

    Lucky you. At private school, after-care costs extra. So, in the car line I sit.

  24. lollipoplover October 2, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    What is this? The drive thru at Kentucky Fried Children?
    The number thing reminds me of waiting at the meat counter but I’m astounded that we won’t allow kids to walk (or find their rides) and need a moronic system to keep everyone in their cars, wasting gas.

  25. CJ October 2, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Eileen has it right. This complexity is an attempt to address the fact that any lost children (or even temporarily lost) are not met with reasonable understanding that “things happen”, but an overwhelming wave of blame that usually results in someone getting fired.

    Complex processes exist to protect the school, not just the child.

    If you long for something different, you need to ask whether in today’s culture, you or your peers would be willing to allow mistakes and “hiccups” in the transition from school to home without holding school employees dramatically accountable.

  26. mystic_eye_cda October 2, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Wow Jeanette, glad to see you know the laws in every country when it comes to school buses and managed to peek into every planning session at every school to see if it’s parents pushing for the change, teachers, insurance companies or what.

  27. Nicole October 2, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    My son’s suburban neighborhood school has the same policy – parents form a line in their cars and have their children’s names on a card on their dashboard. A teacher outside walkie talkies inside for the student that is next and then that student is sent out and put in the car. It’s a small school, so it doesn’t take too long, but I agree that it is crazy. We live close enough that I walk my kindergartner to school and back most days, but if I do drive him, I get to pull up to theffront to of the building and drop him off because he’s in a wheelchair. I don’t ever look to get perks because my son is in a wheelchair, but I was more than happy to take the school’s offer to park up front for pick-up and drop-off so I don’t have to sit in that crazy line.

  28. Edward October 2, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    People; if you want this changed where you live, you must put the topic on the BoE Meeting Agenda or they will not discuss it with you. Read up on Robert’s Rules of Order to know how you MUST conduct yourself in the meeting (yes, even if you’re pissed off) or they have the POWER to remove you from the room. Bring your supporting facts and demand to hear theirs for instituting it in the first place (local law enforcement statistics?, liability insurer requirement?).

    I’ve just been through a similar process with my local elected/appointed officials on another matter and learned at least that much.

    And most important, bring as many supporters with you as possible. Change will be slow but possible.

  29. MHM October 2, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    My daughter, who is in 1st grade, recently started at a brand new charter school. it was built in what will eventually be a housing development, but right now it’s mainly a construction zone (no homes yet). We loved the promise of using technology to teach our children. I don’t normally pick or drop her off but recently I went. The parents are not allowed pass the school fence, there is one place to park and a line of cars to wait in. It felt like a prison…her last school was very open and we could wait outside the kids class and speak with the teacher. It’s the one negative to her going there. BTW when I questioned why parents were not allowed on campus in the facebook group several other parents pointed out it was a safety issue…I was like but Adam Lanza shot his way through a Buzz in system…if someone is out to shoot up a school unless we have armed guards the “safety” measures are just window dressing.

  30. Michelle October 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    At our neighborhood school, they stopped bus service to kids who live in the neighborhood this year. I thought that was a good decision (what a waste, driving kids two or three blocks to school!), but one of my neighbors was complaining and asking how he was supposed to get his fourth grade daughter to school when he has to be at work and she’s “too young” to walk alone. I was kind of shocked at that. It made me wonder if he’s unaware that his “too young” daughter already walks up to the school to play on the playground all the time (with only my first and third grade daughters as company), and has been doing so for at least all of last year?

    My kids are homeschooled, but I can’t imagine putting up with this. If my kids went to school, my preference would definitely be for them to walk themselves (even the kindergartner could walk with older siblings), but if I had to drive them (say, if it was a long distance to the school), what would stop me from parking some distance away and walking to the school? What are they going to do when they tell me I’m supposed to wait in the car and I respond that I didn’t drive? Demand that I go get a car?

    Reminds me of a family I heard about who’d just had a new baby. They didn’t own a car, and lived right by the hospital, so planned to walk home after being released — until the hospital insisted that they couldn’t leave without a car seat. They finally were able to leave after pointing out their home from a hospital window. We live in an insanely car-centered culture.

  31. Kate October 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    With gas costing what it does one might think people would not want to deal with this. Especially people who have “green” themed bumper stickers!!

    I live in super safe suburbia where folks drive to pick up their kids because bus drivers cannot be trusted, kids on bikes on designated bike paths is too risky, 11 year olds cannot possibly be unattended for fifteen minutes…the list goes on and on.

    It’s very difficult to have a “normal” existence amidst all this nonsense. And I’m probably seen as neglectful b/c I let my kids walk and bike home. I happen to enjoy the extra 30-40 minutes of peace it gives me, rather than cutting my day short to race up to school to pace outside the doors!!

  32. Papilio October 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    (Now *this* is a good opportunity for Katie…)
    So, all those engines are running, in this self-designed traffic jam? I can’t even imagine the noise and smell that must cause. Isn’t the whole area slowly turning black from all the exhaust gases?

    Time for sidewalks and bike infrastructure!

  33. Warren October 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Wait your turn in line, to pick up your kid……….no way, no how. Call the school on your cell, inform them you are there, and tell them, don’t ask them, tell them to send her/him out.

    Legally I cannot see how they can refuse.

  34. Warren October 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    You know what they call armed guards at a mass shooting? The first ones shot.

  35. Sarah October 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    Were I live, this kind of drop off is for private school kids only. The Private school that I went to in the eighties did this, walkie talkies and all. One of the reasons why I chose to send my kids to the neighborhood public school, were so many of the kids are walkers.

  36. John October 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Awful! My 6 year old, first grader walks to and from school by himself. Somehow he manages to make it there and back without being abducted or hit by a car. It’s almost like he’s a real human being with a brain of his own. I can promise you I would be the first parent in that school to get an exception granted for my kid. Release him when the bell rings and I will pick him at a nearby corner (if it’s too far or unsafe to walk) and you can stick that car number where the sun don’t shine.

  37. Kate October 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Sooooo glad we homeschool! I drive by those long riddculous lines and can’t believe moms sit in that! Seriously, if you want a free range kid, homeschooling is the way to go.

  38. marco October 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    One of my kids goes to public school, and other than the drop off line (optional) there is no need to line up cars (drop off is faster than parking the car and getting off with your kid) BUT my other little one goes to a private school that for a few weeks had a *retinal scan* that was suppose to scan our eyes and let us in! then on top we have to sign him in the classroom and out as well. They changed the retina scan system for a keypad after multiple failures and frustration with parents BUT the requirement to sign in your kid in and out remains for all grades pre-k to 8th grade. Bizarre… it seems private schools are more restrictive than public school in the area I live in…

  39. Snow October 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    My child’s elementary school was like that, but as soon as he hit middle school it was different. When the final bell rings, the kids are out of there. They go to the bus lot and get on a bus or they hang around and wait for someone to pick them up. Nobody walks, but that’s because it’s a rural school with no sidewalks nor houses nearby. We all like this dismissal routine much better than we liked the elementary school dismissal routine!

  40. Donna October 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    My kid doesn’t ride the bus in the morning because it picks her up at 6:45 for a school that doesn’t start until 7:40 and is just at a mile away. As a Title 1 school district, buses are required to have kids to school early enough to eat breakfast, but my kid doesn’t need to be there that early. But we walk every morning unless it is raining or I need to be in court (and then she rides with a friend) so we are rarely tying up the drop-off line.

    My kid doesn’t ride the bus in the afternoon because we stay at school and play on the playground most days. I also usually either walk or park and get out of the car for pick-up so we are not contributing to the pick-up line.

    But the pick-up line is INSANE. It blocks up traffic on the road in front of the school – a heavily used road and not just a neighborhood road. Yes, people begin to line up waaaaay before school is out. When we first moved back home (and were staying with at my mother’s house in another school district so I had to drive to school), I thought that school got out at 2:25, instead of 2:35, and showed up then and was sometimes not even able to turn into the entrance for the school the line was already so long.

    And it does kill some of the community of school. While we were living at my mother’s, I quickly got frustrated with the pick-up line and started parking and walking to pick-up. By doing that, I found out there is this whole after school life on the playground of families that hang out to play for an hour or so after school every day. And that is where most of my daughter’s new friends come from – the girls that stay after school and she gets to play with freely, as opposed to classmates that she really only gets to interact with outside of organized class activities for a short time each day.

  41. Orange Roughy October 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    I am grateful that I have yet to show an id to pick up my kids and we walk to school, I am trying so hard to keep things “Old School” for my kids. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the school with a car, it’s pretty crazy

  42. Katja Rowell October 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    Ha! Our summer camp pick-up made me INSANE. Kids on a bus for 90 minutes (won’t make that mistake again) each stop, the parents line up with ID in hand. The counselor gets off with a list, ID is presented, child is called off the bus… These are grade-schoolers who might be able to say, “Wait, that’s not my mom!” Even though it was the SAME counselor, every day we had to show ID. If you were last in line, your kid waited another 10 minutes on the sweltering bus, and if a parent wanted to chat up the counselor… “Why yes, it was really hot today! Yes, we ensure they take water breaks, oh, she had so much fun today…” you get to stand there waiting while your kid is frantically signalling you from the bus. Again. We’ve lost our good sense.

  43. Ann in L.A. October 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    I was actually surprised last week when a family friend got caught at work and asked me to pick up her 4th grader from after school care. This is an LAUSD charter school and they just let me walk off with him. I even asked if I had to sign something, or at least give my name. They said no. One seemed to think she should say something, and asked who I was. “Friend of the family” was sufficient. They didn’t even seem to keep track of which kids were still there and which had been picked up.

    Most schools I’ve seen seem to trust the kids to know who they can go away with. I imagine their biggest problem is with non-custodial parents.

  44. Leslie October 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    I’ve written before about the asinine parents who line up in our neighborhood to pick up their children from the bus stop because the precious darlings can’t walk a block home. AND, we live in a completely suburban, safe neighborhood. This year my son is in first grade and rides the bus home; the RULES are that I’m supposed to be waiting for him at the bus stop. He can see our house from the stop… I’m wondering when I can buck the system and let him get off and walk home without me. What would the driver do if I weren’t there? Not let him off??

  45. Leslie October 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    I’ve written before about the asinine parents who line up in their cars to pick up their children from the bus stop in our neighborhood because the precious darlings can’t walk a block home. AND, we live in a completely suburban, safe neighborhood. This year my son is in first grade and rides the bus home; the RULES are that I’m supposed to be waiting for him at the bus stop (unwilling to completely buck the system, I do walk up there to meet him so far). He can see our house from the stop… I’m wondering when I can rebel and let him get off and walk home without me. What would the driver do if I weren’t there? Not let him off??

  46. Donna October 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    “People; if you want this changed where you live, you must put the topic on the BoE Meeting Agenda or they will not discuss it with you. … And most important, bring as many supporters with you as possible.”

    The problem is that I don’t think that you are going to find many supporters. Kids at my school can walk to and fro school themselves and I think 3 do. 3 out of the probably 50-75 walkers/bikers, the rest of whom walk with parents every day. I know a family who walks their children although they live directly across the street (a small residential street) from the back of the school!! It is literally about 10 steps from their front door to the back gate of the school and, yet, Snowflakes can’t walk that far on their own. Who knows how many in the cars could actually be walkers (as opposed to being driven because mom and dad are on their way to work anyway and might as well drop the kid off instead of riding the bus).

    Parents may gripe that the pick-up line is too long, but they don’t actually want to do anything about it other than have all the other parents disappear so that they can pick up their own children the exact same way easier.

  47. Karen October 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    While my kids’ school isn’t THIS bad, I noticed a change this year in the pick up routine. Now, instead of a smooth, “hey, I see my mom or dad” and off the kid goes – now it seems that the duty teacher feels compelled to walk my first AND SIXTH grader to the door of my car. My 6th grader is perfectly capable of walking with her little brother to the car and watching out for him. Neither one needs a personal adult school-employee escort. So I’m in the same boat – it’s taking me a bloody century to pick up my kids.

  48. Michelle October 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Leslie, maybe. My neighbor wasn’t able to pick up her daughter from the bus stop one day (same school that no longer provides bus service in our neighborhood). When she called ahead to let them know she wasn’t going to make it, they told her they’d have to drop her daughter off at the police station instead of the bus stop. And that’s exactly what they did. They also refused to let her daughter off one day when my teenaged daughter was there to pick her up! (It has to be an adult! So parents can’t even have their kids come home to a responsible teenaged babysitter??)

  49. pentamom October 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    “Seriously, if you want a free range kid, homeschooling is the way to go.”

    This makes me laugh, because the stereotype is the opposite — homeschoolers are people who lock their kids down and don’t let them out of the house, let alone out of their sight. While those types certainly do exist, they’re the definite minority — most real homeschoolers not found on TV or in critics’ brains are actually considerably more Free Range than average.

  50. pentamom October 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    “They also refused to let her daughter off one day when my teenaged daughter was there to pick her up! (It has to be an adult! ”

    I honestly don’t know how people put up with this. I chose to homeschool all my kids through middle school (with one exception of one child for three years) for reasons that had nothing to do with school policies, but this would have me doing it in a heartbeat if I wasn’t otherwise inclined. I’m generally not one for the extreme rhetoric about “if you send your kids to school, they own your kids” but this really sounds like they think they DO! I know it’s all about liability and such but when did it stop being the case that schools met with unreasonable demands by parents with phrases like, “Sorry, that’s an unreasonable demand?” I know when I was a kid parents couldn’t just walk into a school and insist that all kinds of ridiculous things be done. What happened to the spines, both of school administrators who could tell parents they were being unreasonable, or parents who could say, “Not with my kids you’re not!” I realize there are constraints against both but how did we GET here where the constraints are so hard to overcome?

  51. Papilio October 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Is carpooling too scary or is it verboten?

  52. michele October 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    I hated the rare occasion that I did have to drop off in the morning because we missed the school bus. Parents and kids would wait in cars till we got to the safe drop off point and then let their kids out, about five cars at a time. It made me CRAZY when cars would not drive away but they would slowly drive ahead, not pulling away until their child walked safely, the 50 feet on the sidewalk, into the school. INSANE!!!!!!!!!

  53. Warren October 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    In the province of Ontario, you would be in violation of the law, picking up and dropping your kids off in this manner. Ontario has an anti idling law for vehicles, and these long lines and waits would be in direct violation of that law.

  54. VLizzle October 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    WTF is this world turning into! I am so glad that I am not raising small children, and I feel a lot of empathy for parents that are. This is beyond ridiculous, sad, frustrating, and more. Our lives in America are no longer our own. Picking your children up from school should not be like picking up cold cuts at the damn deli.

  55. Snow October 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Wow, I just read a few more of the comments and I’m amazed. A 6th grader has to be walked to the car? My kid, in 6th grade, walks to the bus by himself in the morning (and the bus stop cannot be seen from our house) and in the afternoon he walks himself back home. The other day I drove him to a movie theater about 25 minutes from our house and he and a friend went to the movies. By themselves. I let them out of the car, they went to the theater, bought their tickets and went in. I picked them up after the movie. On the other hand, his school, while I am happy that when the final bell rings the kids just go do what they need to do, they will not let the middle school kids attend a football game without a parent. If they are not on the team and want to show support, forget it, a parent has to be there. That’s weird and I don’t like it.

  56. Snow October 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Homeschooling. I would love to home school, but right now I can’t. Perhaps soon. I bet my son would learn more in 3 hours a day than he does in 8.5 hours a day at school. Well, at school and on the bus – that’s how long he’s away from home every day for school. I love the idea of having the freedom that homeschooling would afford us. Studying NYC? Don’t just read about it, go there! I love it.

  57. Ravana October 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    I know I’m seeing the wrong thing, but what got me was “Meaning I was stuck with a toddler in the back seat screaming for juice or snacks — which of course I forgot — for half an hour.” I will NEVER understand this “children must be able to eat/drink whenever they so please and demand” culture.

    Growing up we ate breakfast at 6 a.m. (so Dad could eat with us), lunch at noon or thereabouts, and dinner at 7 p.m. (so Dad could eat with us). If we had a very busy day we could have a snack (apple or crackers or the like) at 3 p.m. if we were home. If we were out running errands with Mom she’d try to get us home before 1 for lunch, but sometimes that didn’t happen. “Well,” she’d say, “We are going to have a late lunch today. Good thing we had a good breakfast, right?” and that was that. “Drinks” were water from the kitchen sink or, if you were out, a drinking fountain if you could find one.

  58. pentamom October 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    BTW, when I say I don’t know how you put up with it, I do understand that everyone doesn’t have the same options, and that there are other factors involved, so I’m not blaming people if they’re in that position. It’s just that, well, I don’t know how you can STAND it! Because it’s RIDICULOUS!

  59. steve October 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Has anyone reading this list ever organized a bunch of parents to change the pickup and drop-off policy at your school?

    I know it would take time and effort, but your group might feel empowered to even change other things if they were successful changing this.

    The key of course would be to get a high number of parents participating. And one way you might do that would be to send each parent links to a list of Lenore’s best youtube videos.

    Unfortunately, most people don’t want to be seen as rocking the school boat.

  60. Stacy October 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    Our school district expects us to all be over-involved helicopters, but at least they trust us to walk inside to pick up the kids if we’d rather not get in line. Moms get to sit around and chat while they wait, and even wander down the hall to use the bathroom without attracting any attention, no body makes sure kids go with the right adult, and the sign out sheet is only for early pick-ups. The K-1st grade building is a little different — they have a sign out sheet (but no one watching it or asking for id’s), encourage parents to stay in their cars, and ask parents to have a dashboard sign.

    Of course, I force my kids to take the bus, except in the rare occasion when we need to be somewhere right after school. Sadly, we live way too far to walk. Some parents are forced to pick their kids up because they live outside the school district, but many parents pick up and/or drop off every day, to save their kids the bus ride or protect them from “bad influences” on the bus.

  61. AnnMarie October 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    In my district, you can only ride the bus if you live more than 2 miles from the school (and if you go to a magnet or charter school, no bus at all).

    30 minutes is nothing. My husband go an HOUR early so that he can park in the line and not have to idle. The school was horribly designed and pickup/dropoff is a huge hassle. We live nearly 2 miles away, so it’s a long walk (for the adults for whom it would be 4 miles), but we do try to bike when we can. There’s no place to park within a mile. Well, maybe you could on the far side of the school, but you’d have to go THROUGH all the school traffic to get there. (Like I said, poorly designed–most of the kids live on two sides of the school, and you can only reach the school from two directions, and there’s no way around without going WAY out of the way. Crazy!)

    And at least the kids wait outside. It’s a school of over 1500 kids….(largest elementary school in one of the nations largest school districts).

  62. Susan October 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    We live .4 miles from my daughter’s school and the carpool line is ridiculous. I walk my daughter to school right now (she’s in Kindergarten), and I hope she will be walking solo in first grade. Everyday I see at least four or five buses leaving in a big line and there are never more than three of four kids on the bus. Yet the car line goes all the way out into the street. And I see maybe three kids max walking and always with a parent. I have half a mind to wander around my neighborhood and try and start some sort of “walking bus” started. Get out of your cars people! Use your feet! The kids can do it! I promise!

  63. SusanOR October 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    My kid rides the bus. After school, she attends an aftercare program at her school (WHICH WE PAY FOR, BTW – whoever thought it was free was obviously dreaming). The school’s drop off/pick up system is crazy but not car-line. Each teacher has a designated door from which they release students to a parent. In the mornings, kids (and parents) can mass in the cafeteria or gym before the first bell, but parents may not walk students to their class. The teachers pick up their class from either the cafeteria or the gym & walk them to class en masse.

    But we live on the same street as a parochial school with a ridiculous car line, despite the fact that most of the school is from the local parish. About once a year, I have to call the school principal to remind parents that blocking a city street is not neighborly and is, in fact, illegal.

  64. hineata October 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    How do these lines work? As in, do some schools have private roads around them? Because I don’t get how you could all line cars up on a public road waiting to drive by one little place just to pick up a kid. What happens to other road traffic?

    And aren’t they just a little concerned that someone, one day, is going to go mad in that line? It sounds like purgatory. I could foresee the potential for all sorts of mayhem.

  65. Julie October 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    My kids’ school seems to be pretty common sense comparatively. The kids are walked to the front of the school as a class where they are met by a parent, who is either standing in the grass out front or waiting in the car. Unless the kid is walking home, in which case…the kid walks home. I’ve never had to verify my identity, not even on the first day of school when the teacher didn’t know me.

    Further, there’s a group of parents who live on the back side of the school, who meet their kids at the lunch tables, which are behind the school. (Yes, California kids eat lunch outside everyday unless there’s a downpour.) So, the kid tells the teacher where the parent will be, and teacher lets them go. They do not check that a parent is at the tables. They do not check that the kid found their way to the back of the school. They just let them go, like it used to be. The bike racks are back there, too, so biking kids are also released out the back.

    The one exception to this is kindergarten, where the parent has to go to the classroom door. Which is a bit of bummer, but something I only have to put up with for a single year.

    As for why no one at our school takes the bus–BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE A BUS. Don’t assume all districts have the same policies or even funding as your own. We’d walk anyway, though, because it’s close and a little bit of exercise and a lot less time and gas wasted is a good thing.

  66. Frau_Mahlzahn October 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Haha, at my daughter’s elementary school, there often is a police officer stationed in front of the school — and writing out tickets to those parents who drive up all the way to school to drop off their precious kids, ;-). And the principal of the school encourages all students to walk to school or take public Transportation and even participates in projects to teach people how much better this is for the kids’ health, socializing and even — proven by studies — academic performance. I love her dearly.

    So long,

  67. Papilio October 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    And now for something completely different – just because I love the contrast (AND similarities) so much:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojb7OKz6wKk (go to 3.48 for Supermom)

  68. JyneeB October 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    That’s just ridiculous. Not only does it waste gas and time, its just plain stupid. The school my daughter goes to, its about 50/50…many kids walk and bike (we only live 15 mins from the school) and just this year, even though I was a bit nervous about it(because of all the idiots who speed around here) we let our daughter who is in 4th grade start biking to school by herself..so far she has done really well. The problem I have is that the parents who do drive, speed, don’t pay attention, and in a specific loading zone, park instead of driving back until their kid is there, which backs everything up. We even had a parent who was walking in a crosswalk get hit by a car on the second day of school!

  69. Patti Parham October 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    I agree! I picked up my 10yo niece yesterday and had to be buzzed in through two different doors AND sign her out. Even after her mother had called and told them I would be picking her up. All the while she is sitting right there but can’t walk out the door to meet me! Wow, how did my children ever survive to adulthood?

  70. Christine October 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    I never used the “car pool” (stupidest misnomer ever) pickup before this year, when I need to do it once a week to make a dance class.

    But once I was coincidentally at school around the pickup time. Evidently it’s a cardinal sin to try to pass the slow-ass cars picking up kids, but since I didn’t use car pool, I didn’t know the rules. The principal literally JUMPED in front of my van to stop me from circumventing the pickup line as I tried to leave!

    The whole thing is stupid. Even stupider when you consider many of the parents are doing it because they want their kids to be safer. Newsflash – school buses are safer than your car!

  71. Buffy October 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    @Ravana, the snack/drink thing stuck out to me too; you’re not the only one! I live in a small town of about 7800, and my back yard backs up to the playground area of a park. Many parents drive their kids over to play at the park, and they also drive over their huge backpack stuffed with snacks and their cooler with drinks. It seems to be enough for a full day of eating/drinking, all for a 30-minute outing!

    Anyway, back on topic…..I’m amazed that all these parents are available when school gets out; do the school systems just assume that moms don’t work? Do child care facilities have one person dedicated to drop offs/pick ups, and what if they have to pick up kids at different schools? If a child goes to a home day care, does the provider have to pack up all the younger kids in order to participate in this rigamorole, instead of being able to teach a child to walk or bike to his “babysitter”‘s house?

  72. Jen (P.) October 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    **”In the province of Ontario, you would be in violation of the law, picking up and dropping your kids off in this manner. Ontario has an anti idling law for vehicles, and these long lines and waits would be in direct violation of that law.”**

    Warren–I can’t believe you don’t have the guts to tell your government you’ll idle your car whenever and wherever you please.

  73. Donna October 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    hineata –

    Our school fronts on a busy street. However, the school also doesn’t sit directly on the street. It has a large circular driveway that holds a number of cars and once the cars get moving, the line moves quickly. Even with that, it still gets backed up onto the main road in the few minutes before the line gets moving. I tried to pick my daughter up via car last week when it was raining and I was stopped on the main road for several minutes waiting to turn into the school. I finally gave up, parked and walked.

  74. pentamom October 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    In reference to my comment about seeing cars outside the school 30 minutes ahead of time, just to clarify, this is at a school that does not require pickup, where a lot of the kids walk, where the kids who are picked up are just allowed to walk directly out of the school and to their cars on their own, and where there is a large area for plenty of cars to stop and park and wait for the kids to come out. The school is located directly across a side street from a supermarket with a sidewalk blocking access to the supermarket lot except for an entrance/exit about a block down, so that entire block not only has room for many cars to stop, but excellent visibility up and down the street so kids can find their cars even if they’re not close, and a safe crossing for any child old enough to cross a non-busy street alone. (There is no “legal” parking on either side of the street, but that is where parents stop and wait for their kids and it is tolerated, so really there’s room for a lot of cars on both sides of the street.) There’s really no actual reason, such as needing to get there early so as not to have to wait extra long, to get there 30 minutes early. But some people still apparently think that 2 1/2 hours out of their week, every week, are well spent that way.

  75. Laura October 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    So, if parents are waiting for that long to pick up a child how long does the teacher end up waiting in the classroom until all of the kids have left?
    That sounds like a whole lot of OT each week! I’m really surprised that the union would allow it. Unless, maybe it’s a private school?

    I am very grateful that we live within walking distance to school. I see the chaos that goes on at the drop off/pick up sometimes and would not want to deal with that everyday.

  76. Rachel October 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    Hi Reilly. Loved the way you describe this insane pick-up at your nieces school! That is crazy! And so glad there are people like you brave enough to step up and question what is going on. Thanks for making me laugh, too (though sorry you had to go through that).

    I live in NY City where many people don’t have cars, so luckily, we are allowed to wait on the sidewalk and socialize while waiting for our little children. No numbers, but a teacher does let the kids go one at a time when she/he sees their parent or babysitter.

  77. Warren October 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    Actually have had it out with our local Member of Parliament, on just that.
    You see emergency vehicles, and transit vehicles are exempt. My service trucks are not legally classed as emergency vehicles, and I wanted to know just how zero tolerance the law was going to be. Be it police or ministry officer, it is at their discretion. Basically during the winter, they will not bother with our trucks idling. They are targeting soccer moms infront of schools, or those that stay in their car to watch a parade while the rest of us suck fumes.

    So yes I have addressed this issue, thank you very much. And being in the automotive sector, letting your gas engine sit there and idle for long periods of time is just stupid. Waste of fuel, hard on parts, hard on fluids, hard on the wallet, and just plain rude.

    Any other questions, Jen?

  78. Rob October 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I have lived where it can be impractical to walk, so I often picked up the kids after school. The simple answer is to be the last one, or almost the last one, to the school. They aren’t going anywhere. Sure, you may have a travel-team soccer practice or whatever. But for the most part my time is more important than my children’s time. Why would I sit in the car 30 minutes before school lets out, when I can swing in and be the third car in line 20 minutes AFTER school lets out. That’s 50 minutes more I have to get things done at home, something most stay-at-home parents would appreciate.

  79. lollipoplover October 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    We never do parent pick-up. It’s like root canal in terms of pain index. How parents don’t go postal on each other waiting in lines of traffic baffles me. I did it once for a doctor’s appointment and I’ll never do it again.

    Our kids have been bikers (or walkers in bad weather) for years. Parents just sign a form at the beginning of the year to let the school know dismissal plans and the kids are free to go, no restrictions. Most of the other kids in our neighborhood also commute on bike or walk and they have their own little community that looks out for each other. My oldest daughter did a flip over her handlebars yesterday and was helped to the house by two of her fellow bikers. She was crying and somehow busted the whole front tire off her bike but was fine. She borrowed my bike today. Tough as nails, the way it should be.

    Kids have been commuting to school for centuries. I don’t know why idiot school administrators treat kids like happy meals that need to be delivered door to door. A little walking and waiting never hurt anyone. Seriously, who has time for this nonsense?

  80. Eric Blair October 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    I am not a parent, but I find myself wondering what type of adults kids who are treated like this will eventually turn out to be?

    Am I the only one who sees it as creepy or Orwellian, that kids are treated like this? Are they going to grow up to be obsequious to authority, or will they come to rebel?

    I do not believe that the world can have changed as much as this in the last half-century, that such idiotic measures are necessary.

  81. Reilly Capps October 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Hi you guys,

    All of this surprises me so much — I had no idea it was like this, and apparently like this in a lot of places.

    I loved hearing about Ontario, where it’s illegal, and about walking groups.

    I mean, clearly: I don’t have kids, and I am probably not a person who should have custody of two young children on a Monday afternoon in Colorado, and I didn’t handle the whole thing well, and I melted down and threw a tantrum just as badly as my toddler niece. There were no adults in that situation on Monday afternoon.

    But, still: there has got to be a better way than this.

    Reilly Capps

  82. Stephanie October 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Makes my kids’ school look so sane. They expect parents/a responsible adult to pick up kindergarteners and first grade, and teachers stay with the kids to make sure someone gets them. Past that, they assume the kids can find their own ride, walk home for those few who live in the neighborhood (charter school) or go into the office to call to see where their ride is.

    My son is having a friend come over next week. The friend’s mom is a kindergarten teacher at the school, and the boys are third graders. I asked her if she was okay with the boys just walking over, or if she preferred me to come get them. She hesitated, then agreed they could walk. I think since she’s used to kindergarteners who must be picked up, and of course she is usually her son’s transportation to and from school, the idea of him walking was a bit new. Still, we’re under a quarter mile away, so I was glad she decided to let them walk without me.

    Hopefully I can get the neighbors to let their kids with mine within the next couple years. One family has a first grader, the other a kindergartener. The kindergartener’s family is Russian, and I think the mom finds it a bit frustrating to have to go get her son every day, because she was asking me how long she has to do this. Once they’re all above the age the school expects an adult to handle things, I hope their kids will walk like mine, and possibly with them. At least the parents aren’t driving them that distance now.

  83. shdd October 2, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    The only cure for this is middle school. My daughter is in sixth grade and no one asks how my daughter gets to and from school. For the record she takes the bus both morning and afternoon.

    Day care was her chance to meet kids in other grades. We took a walk on Sunday and two little girls came over to hug her. They are only in first grade and consider my daughter their friend. She hugged both of them and smiled.

  84. JM October 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    I couldn’t even make this up… This was on my facebook wall just now News 13 in orlando posted
    Even though the government is shutdown, you can download a new app to help you stay aware of child predator cases. Get the details.


  85. Ricardo October 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    I’m writing you from Portugal. I’m also not a parent, but an uncle of a 3 years old adorable girl. She just started going to school and I’m looking forward to have the chance of picking her up from school.
    I’m wondering: since I don’t drive nor have a driving license (overhere, everyone has an ID card since birth), would I be required to hang a number on my bike’s bar and queue behind all the cars? And if I walk over there, would I have to hang the number around my neck, like a criminal taking a mug shot at the police station?
    Crazy people…

  86. Reziac October 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Erm. How is this not holding the kids hostage? I’m thinkin’ a clever lawyer could find a kidnapping charge in here somewhere.

    Me, I’d find another school, if there was anything at all in range.

    And this outrageous ‘safety’ procedure (which as noted, DOES require trusting various strangers) teaches kids that living in a prison camp is ‘normal’ and ‘desirable’ because it’s really scary outside of the safe walls you’re not allowed to leave!

    Welcome to the gulag, komrade…

  87. Nic October 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Why are the parents putting up with this? Are they all sucked in by the fear and hype? Where are the sensible ones who are challenging this type of nonsense?

  88. Sherri October 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    I’m glad my kids are able to walk to and from school. I would never put up with this, and thankfully these “pick up lines” aren’t a thing here.

    Why wouldn’t the parents who have to drive and deal with these lines simply drop their kids off two blocks from the school and let them walk the rest of the way. They could then tell the school that the child is walking home, and pick the child up in a prearranged meeting place.

  89. rhodykat October 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    When we were in public school, we had end of driveway drop off. I fought with the school and the bus company, and they finally allowed her to get off the bus without me standing there so long as the garage door was open and the bus driver could see my car. I forgot to open the garage one day and they kept her on the bus and made me go get her back at the school. Now, we’re in private school. The carpool line isn’t bad – you just identify who you are picking up – no ID needed – and they will have them lined up for you…it goes very quickly. Most days, my kids do take the bus. They have an hour and a half to be transported the 5.5 miles home, with a .5-mile walk from the stop. The other parents look at me like I have three heads when I tell them I “allow” this (particularly the walk). Meanwhile, we live in view of the public school (my kids walk by it on their way home) and at the end of our street every morning is a gaggle of kids and their parents waiting for the bus to drive them the 0.25-mile to the school they can see – and the sad thing is, they are not the last stop – there is someone across the street from the school driveway that stands outside to put their kid on the bus.

  90. Shaun Kelley October 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    I I feel for you people who live in such an automobile-dominated clusterfuck that you are unable to get out and WALK. I always pick up my kid face-to-face, standing on my own two feet like the homo sapien that I am. My kid is a range-free kid who knows how to kick any lowlife trying to grab him in the balls, going for the eyes next. If you live in the reality described in this article, I am afraid you live NOWHERE imo. Good luck humanoid units.

  91. This girl loves to Talk October 3, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    one of my favourite things is waiting with the other mums at school. I’ve always had a little kid with me(have four kids so always a little one the last 7 years I’ve been doing school run) and in the 20 mins we wait they get to play on the playground (win for me so I don’t feel guilty if I never get to the playground with them – they are getting 2 plays in a day at school while waiting for siblings)
    through the wait and chat with other mums we’ve organised meet ups in the local park, we’ve helped eachother out with carpool, I now sit and wait 15 mins after school 3 days a week waiting for a friends teenager to walk down from the local high school to collect his little sister, we’ve all gone out for coffee, etc etc. I much prefer my way than sitting alone in a car wasting petrol in a line for 30 mins

  92. Katie October 3, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Reason #849 that I shake my head in disbelief when some people criticize larger-than-average and/or homeschooling families for “using more than their share of resources”. If we’re in the car, it’s going somewhere 98% of the time!

  93. Puzzled October 3, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    For the record, I don’t see how parents who drive kids to school drive up transportation costs. The school budgets transportation based on how many kids are in the school. They’re going to pay for the transportation, used or not – it doesn’t decline in cost if it is more used. (The school could, of course, figure in average use, rather than enrollment, and if it did, then driving parents would actually cut costs, but this isn’t likely to happen.)

    I’m not a huge fan of driving kids to school (and much less a fan of schools in the first place) but I think it’s presumptuous to criticize or punish parents for this decision with their kids.

  94. Warren October 3, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Unless your child is beyond walking distance, and there is no bus service, there is absolutely no reason to drive them. All the reasons that parents give for driving them are purely selfish on the parents part.

    We have heard them all from too far, no sidewalks, bad traffic, road crossings, schedules, and on and on and on.

    None of these are valid, as they can all be dealt with. It is parents and paranoia, coupled with seperation anxiety.

    In fact, driving your kids is robbing them of valuable life lessons, and social skills. Not to mention time spent with friends and peers. So once again, rob them of life to avoid lightening strike events.

  95. pentamom October 3, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    Warren, if you think that sparing your kids from having to get up an hour early in order to completely waste that hour on the bus when the school is right on your way to work is not a valid reason, you’re entitled to think that. But it’s still a ridiculous thing to think.

  96. Papilio October 3, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    @Warren: you forget the reasons to rule out cycling… ‘Too far to walk’ is often still very bikeable – provided that it is a safe (< traffic-wise) option.

    All this explains a lot about playdates btw. You don't want to go through all this (for one child) and then hear, 'I'm gonna play with Susie this afternoon, I'll be home for dinner, okay? Bye!'

  97. Will October 3, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    The school our kids attend doesn’t provide bus service, and it’s a charter school, so anyone from anywhere in the city can enroll their kids (it’s a great school, constantly has a waiting list). So, a pick-up line is somewhat inevitable. We are about a mile from the school, but that mile is encrusted with major intersections, so while we do allow our oldest to walk to the store, she doesn’t walk to school (yet: when she goes to the middle school, she’ll be walking – there’s no major intersection to cross, and there’s crossing guards all around the school).

    That said: the teachers know the parents. The parents will put the kid’s actual names (not some code number) on signs in the cars so that the teachers can just walk down the line and call out like 20 kids and have them start getting sorted out to go to the car (if there’s no sign, the teacher will lean in to the car window and *talk* to the parent – *shocker*). The kids are trusted to know the right car, and know the person they’re getting into the car with (my mom sometimes collects them, and we don’t have to file a writ of habeus corpus to do it).

    It’s not ideal, as I’d rather my kids walk (some lucky kids who live closer in *do* walk). But it does only take 15 minutes to clear the whole school. And that’s just pick-up. Drop off, I like to joke, once I don’t have to sign my preschool age son in and out, will be me pulling up to the school, hitting the automatic door button, and telling the kids to get out (without so much as a teacher to collect them – my son already resents that I have to walk to his classroom, and often takes a different route). I might even slow down a little as I go past.

  98. Jenna K. October 3, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    I really dislike this about schools these days. Fortunately, our school is not like this. Although, the pick-up line is horrible and perfectly chaotic. Which is why every time I pick my kids up because we have something going on that afternoon that is earlier than it would take for them to walk the mile home, I remember why I make mine walk instead of get picked up.

    I taught school a decade ago in Southern California. We had a similar system for pick-ups. We had a few walkers, and we were required to escort them off school grounds, ensuring that they at least made it off school grounds safely.

    Right now, my kids walk home and nobody watches to make sure they leave together or anything. There have been many times when they’ve gone home with a friend and called me when they got there to let me know where they were. I’m so glad they can do this where we live.

    I do wish that people didn’t just sit in their cars. Our school also doesn’t give out any sort of directory. It’s frustrating that the only parents I can even get to know are the other ones who join PTA, and often they aren’t the parents of my kids’ friends. I hate that when my kids come home from school and ask to have a certain friend over, I have to tell them that they have to get a phone number for that friend and then I have to find a way to meet their parents before we can arrange anything. It’s annoying. All this extreme need for privacy and fear of predators have made us crazy and more isolated than ever.

  99. Jenna K. October 3, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    I see a lot of people here commenting about why kids don’t ride buses. Here, kids don’t even get a bus unless they live two miles away from the school. I wish we got a bus. Bus funding is so limited where we live, so the buses I see are all full or they get canceled.

  100. Warren October 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Just another lame excuse, for your convenience. What do you think they do on the bus? Sit there eyes forward like little prisoners in chains?
    They chat with friends, do homework, read, socialize, and all sorts of things that fundamentally are good for them.

    Anymore lame excuses?

  101. QB October 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    While not as extreme, this has been creeping into our lives even in rural Vermont. We all park and stand outside in a group waiting for our kids. There are maybe 100 kids in the school and we all pretty much know each other. Still, we have to wait while one by one the kids are told to identify their parent or caregiver and released. It takes forever. It is a rural school so it isn’t like random strangers walk by. This was a change from last year when the kids were pretty much allowed to walk outside because there are more kids being picked up this year and for “safety’s sake” they need to make sure everyone is taken care of. You should have seen the looks we got from the teachers the other week when we told our kids to play on the playground after school while we had a meeting with a teacher. They had snacks, drinks, and knew where we were, but were picked up by the after school program because of our negligence. So much for teaching self sufficiency.

  102. Katie October 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    @Jeanette-Very well said

    @Warren, Well what do you really expect from Pentamom? She isn’t actually a free ranger she is a diluter. She wants the title without doing any of the work and wants everybody to drop their standards to her low level. In fact her, Gina, and Natalie are 3 of the least free range people I’ve ever had a conversation with.

  103. Donna October 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    @Warren – Damn right my child not riding the bus is for my convenience. I don’t want to be inconvenienced to get us both up and ready a half a hour earlier than we need to get up if I drive her to school (back when we drove instead of walked). So? I didn’t sign on to parenting to be a martyr to the cause and my convenience is as much a consideration as anything else.

  104. Katie October 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    @PS At Shaun Kelly-Best Comment I’ve Read on here in ages.

    “I I feel for you people who live in such an automobile-dominated clusterfuck that you are unable to get out and WALK”.

  105. Jenny Islander October 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    Some good news: I took my preschool-aged son to the grocery store yesterday. He wanted to go look at dog food and I told him I was going to the next aisle. Well, he never came to find me. I kept on shopping, planning to circle around to customer service to have him paged. But before I was done, I heard a smiling voice over the intercom say, “[my real name], Matthew Patrick is waiting for you at Register 2.”

    And there he was, not panicking, not abducted, and not eaten by a grue–just waiting patiently for me, having given his and my names to the first grown-up in a uniform that he found after realizing that I had gotten lost. Just as I trained him to do. And when the cashier asked him whether I was really his mom and whether she should check my ID, she was joking.

    Free-range! It’s still a thing in some parts of the USA.

  106. Andy October 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    “All the reasons that parents give for driving them are purely selfish on the parents part. … In fact, driving your kids is robbing them of valuable life lessons, and social skills. Not to mention time spent with friends and peers. ”

    Could we please stop framing every little thing as “OMG essential for development the kid will not grow right without it” thing? They are easy talking points and sounds nice until you start to think about them.

    You can frame every single tiny thing the kid does as teaching him something. And every single tiny thing the kid does robs him of opportunity to learn something else.

    When I was a kid, there was no school bus and we grew into fully functional adults. You either walked or went by public transport or were driven by parents on their way to work.

    As far as I can tell, none of these options involved “valuable life lessons” nor “social skills” nor anything else you could not get elsewhere. There is no way to tell how an adult used to go to school when he was little.

    As a child I would strongly prefer waking up an hour later or reading a book for an hour at home over sitting in a slow bus. The older I was, the stronger that preference would be.

    As a parent, I strongly prefer waking up an hour later over waking up sooner just so my kid can chat in slowly moving bus.

    Therefore, as a parent I will choose the mode of transport the most practical for me, unless the kid strongly object. If it indeed objects and have a good reason, I will choose the second most practical mode of transport.

    There is being selfless and there is being irrationally impractical. And if you panic over kid not developing social skills cause it missed opportunity to go by slow bus, then you are indeed helicopter parent.

  107. Vickie October 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    As much as I can’t stand it, schools have a reason for this behavior. Although, I am not sure about it being to this extreme.

    OK – it is called fear. Fear of being sued, fear of the school system, fear of random people coming to school and shooting their children, fear of being held responsible for a child’s (other than their own’s)well – being, fear of the dead -beat dad that will pick up and abduct, fear of strangers etc. Mostly fear of prosecution and firing if something does go down.
    We can blame society for this and blame parents who tolerate this type of behavior.
    This year, our county school system reacted to budget cuts by reducing the buses. There is a much larger walking area now. Some parents still drive their kids to the school or to the area across from the school, but there are those who don’t. I am proud of these parents for not contributing to the nonsense. The school also got a bike rack with has been full almost every day! Except that they told my son that he wasn’t allowed to ride his bike because he would have to cross a major street (which he crossed to get to swim team every morning during the summer). So I ride with him which is actually fun for me.
    Just my thoughts –

  108. Puzzled October 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I think Vickie’s exactly right. We won’t be able to deal with all these little issues until we deal with the big one – a society based on fear of what can go wrong, rather than excitement about what can go right. (And, I think, we won’t deal with that one until we deal with b12 deficiency, d deficiency, and overconsumption of gluten and sugar.)

  109. lollipoplover October 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    @puzzled- Speaking of irrational fear, I got a crazy call today from a mom of one of my son’s friends who was in a *panic* because her son (12) was not answering his phone after schoool and she wasn’t sure if he was locked out of the house or went to soccer practice afer school by mistake. She was frantically calling from her appointment at the cardiologist’s office.

    I told her I’d send my son over on bike to check it out.
    He did. The friend was playing in the yard with his dog. Both boys biked back here and played some ball while Irrational mom called repeatedly to see if her son was *OK*.
    I’m no doctor, but this irrational fear that something is wrong when you can’t reach your kid can’t be good for your heart. She thanked me for helping but I told her she needs to chill and trust her boy- he’s actually a good kid. Not trusting him will turn him into a bad kid.

  110. Fuchsia October 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    I am so glad that we don’t do this at our school. There is actually limited space to park so we are encouraged to walk, bike or bus. We walk directly into the school and pick our kids up from the classroom. We get to chat with other parents and kids while we wait even! And when kids are old enough the parents can sign a permission form to just release them so they can walk or bike home. So sane.

  111. David October 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Our son’s elementary school implemented a similar system this year. They call it their “Safe Pickup Procedure”! My son walks home so we don’t have to deal with this procedure. I guess the school doesn’t care about the safety of walkers and bikers!?

  112. Kimberly October 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    My principal would be pulling her hair out. we have a good number of transfers, so they have to be picked up. Busses don’t drive to the houses, and way out of safe walking distance (4 and 5 lane roads with 45 – 50 mph limits and no side walks).

    Our pick up is designed to be quick and efficient.

    No pulling in the staff parking log and walking your kid to the car – because that was crazy and we had several near misses with people nearly hitting other people’s kids or staff.

    Every parent is given a card with their kids name on it. A staff member is stationed about 5 car lengths back from the pick up area. THe kids are in grade level groups (siblings sit in oldest child’s grade) on a big old fashioned porch.

    The staff member that is about 5 car lenghths back calls kids/groups and a color. The kids hop up and go to the star painted that color. A staff member helps the little ones get in and get buckled in (Some of our kids are as young as 3). The reason for the cars isn’t to check id’s – it is to get the kids to their star before their ride pulls up.

    It is hard to describe but we are basically loading 5 cars at a time. And the next set of kids is waiting behind the kids loading. A neighboring school has a similar system to the OP – because their WPA designed school doesn’t have a safe place for the kids to wait outside. (Our porch is so deep that even with driving rain the kids can sit on the ground without getting wet. )

  113. Warren October 3, 2013 at 10:59 pm #


    No matter how you do it, it is moronic. The minute you have staff outside, controlling and verifying any sort of pick up procedure, it becomes beyond stupid.

    Anyone that goes along with it should be ashamed. Sitting in a line, or standing in a line, to have anyone tell you that you have the go ahead to pick up your own kid, is the very definition of a mindless sheep.

    I really feel sorry for those people that allow themselves to be treated that way.

  114. Costanza October 4, 2013 at 4:16 am #

    My son is seven and goes to a private school’s aftercare program. I wrote a note saying: A. can leave at 4.15 by himself. So at 4.15 he leaves the school, walks half a mile, waits for the city bus and rides it for twenty minutes, then walks home where he safely (and happily)arrives at 5. We live in Germany.

  115. Wenonah October 4, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Perhaps this policy has less to do with Stranger Danger, than with custodial parent issues. My kids go to a school with a substantial amount of families that don’t consist of mom and dad but other variations that sometimes reflect less than harmonious home situations.
    Just yesterday, the police were called because what I am assuming was a father who was not authorized (because of custodial issues) tried to pick up his child and he and the custodial grandparent got into an argument.

    So unfortunately schools have to deal with domestic issues more frequently than they may have had to in the past.

  116. Warren October 4, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Someone’s custodial issues are just that, their’s. Not yours, mine or anyone else’s.

    If you do not want your ex whatever to pick up the kid, then make dang sure you are there or someone you trust is there. It should not be the school’s problem, and it sure as heck should put limitations on the rest of the school’s population.

  117. ANN October 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    I hate – HATE – pick up/drop off lanes. It saves my kids an hour of commute time to drop them off at school which I drive by on my way to work, but I oh-so-love that big yellow bus! I think it teaches them a whole word of life lessons – including when to shut up and sit down! My kids are marveling at the Mom’s who walk their kids into and out of school. I can honestly say that I have absolutely no desire to ever go into the buildings and avoid it at all costs because I have to go through a screening process worse than airport check in lines to get in! (don’t get me started on THAT subject!)

  118. Donna October 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I think much of this has to do with simple traffic control. Unless a school wants to build a huge parking lot, it has to move cars through orderly and efficiently or it is just mass chaos. My kid’s school was built in 1920ish so cars, even for teachers, were not a major consideration in design. Small parking lots have been added in later renovations, but non-staff parking is very minimal. Some plan needs to exist to get kids out and home with the least amount of chaos.

    And parents should do what is convenient for them, and that doesn’t always involve a bus. The only people for whom the bus is convenient are stay-at-home/work-from-home parents or working parents of kids old enough to stay home by themselves. It is highly inconvenient for just about everyone else.

    The fact is that life has changed since most of us were kids. A mother at home waiting for the kids to get off the bus is the rare exception, not the rule today. Even in the group at my kid’s school who play on the playground after school, very few are people without some sort of employment outside of caring for the family. There are part-time/flex-time workers, university professors, college students, artists, musicians and business owners in the group (including myself). And those are the parents who can carve out an hour or so to play at pick-up time so who knows what different situations are in the car pick-up line. Combine them with the kids from outside the busing area who HAVE to be driven and you do end up with a large car pick-up line.

  119. Buffy October 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Much as I hate to agree with Warren, I do in this one instance. Other people’s custody issues should not create a environment in which my kid is held inside the school like a prisoner while I jump through a myriad of hoops in order to pick him up.

  120. Chad October 4, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    It’s crazy at my daughters school, especially the first few weeks. I’ve learned how to avoid the whole mess by volunteering at the school about an hour before they let out. I shelve books in the school library. My daughter comes down to the library and we walk right out to my vehicle and we’re out of the parking lot. I am out of there in minutes and not sitting in the line for 45 minutes…and the Librarian really appreciates the help.

  121. Papilio October 5, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Are those school buses as inefficient, time-wise, as they sound?
    Is that due to the route or to stopping at each kid’s house? …Which would mean they now leave earlier than they used to, is that true? What are the effects on the amount of sleep the (young) children get?

  122. Donna October 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    Papilio –

    One issue with school buses, at least in my area, is that they now have to get kids to school earlier so that they can eat breakfast before school (schools didn’t even offer breakfast when I was a kid). I don’t know if this is exclusive to school systems with a large underprivileged population like mine or if all schools do it now, but if my daughter rode the bus, she would get to school 15-20 minutes before school starts.

    For the rest, the level of time-wasting largely depends on your place in the pick-up route. A kid that is at the beginning of the route is going to get picked up a good bit before the last kid picked up.

    I would guess that the smaller number of kids who take the bus does play a part. Back when I was a kid, one neighborhood and the bus was full and on its way to school. Really dense neighborhoods may involve only one stop for a full bus. Today only a couple kids are getting on in each neighborhood so each bus serves several neighborhoods and the difference between the time the first kid gets on and the last kid gets on is greater.

    But I do think that some are reading far more helicopter thinking than they should into the fact that fewer kids are riding the bus. I’m not helicopter and my kid has never ridden the school bus because it is inconvenient for me. I’m not sure why I should do something less convenient just to say I do it.

  123. Papilio October 6, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    @Donna: Thanks, that explains a lot. Breakfast for the underprivileged makes sense, and the emptier buses too. Smaller buses would be faster, but more expensive for needing extra chauffeurs. And increasing the amount of stops because children can’t possibly walk to the bus stop by themselves doesn’t help either…

  124. Rebecca October 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    @ Chad. As a school librarian, thank you for volunteering in your child’s school library! I finally got two parents to come volunteer this year-my 10th year in my library. It’s super wonderful.

    Most of our students ride the bus, but we have some car pick ups too. There are parents who get there up to an HOUR before dismissal & just sit. I used to try to drum up volunteers from those parents, but never had any luck. It just struck me as bizarre. Who has the time or inclination to sit in a parking lot for an hour?! Even thefirst week when everybody’s learning the process, pick up never takes more than 15 minutes. The principal changed our car pick up this year to require the cards with your kids names in the window & it still doesn’t take more than 15 minutes, but we had some pretty mad parents over it. Which I sort of get, but it actually makes the line faster because we can call out names and get your kid ready.

  125. Kay October 7, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    I don’t think my son’s elementary school requires coded signs but his preschool did. It must be a liability issue but it saddens me it comes to this.

    But I wanted to address this:

    “By Ravana Wed Oct 2nd 2013 at 2:24 pm
    I know I’m seeing the wrong thing, but what got me was “Meaning I was stuck with a toddler in the back seat screaming for juice or snacks — which of course I forgot — for half an hour.” I will NEVER understand this “children must be able to eat/drink whenever they so please and demand” culture.”

    One of my regrets was placating my children when they were toddlers, even as preschoolers with food, drink, and toys in the car and other places. There is a valuable lesson to be learned with delayed gratification. Read about the “French” way of parenting. Here’s an article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577196931457473816.html

    It makes sense to me because that was the way I was raised. I had to wait either because of inconvenience or it wasn’t time or ready. But I must have forgotten this with my own as I seemed to be more concerned with keeping them quiet or distracting them and trying not to make scenes. I’ve since had trouble with my children because of their unreasonable reaction to thirst or hunger, especially in the car. This might or might not happen to any of you parents of young children but beware if you are practicing this. I am not putting up with their nonsense but it is unpleasant and disturbing that they have acted this way at their age in being thirsty, etc, even 5 minutes out from home, whining like they’re going to die. Everybody gets thirsty, I didn’t let them experience that at a tender age. They should have been practicing tolerance a long time ago. They’re still learning now.

  126. Warren October 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Okay, why the heck are the schools feeding all the students breakfast?

    I always thought that was one of the fundamental duties of a parent, food, shelter and clothing.

    Do they do their laundry at school as well?

  127. hineata October 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    @Warren – Heard of the GFC? Also, believe it or not, Robert Kiwiosaki (?) books? (Those contributed heavily to the pushing up of prices for lower-end homes, and subsequently rents).Can’t comment on Canada, but down here there are some families who actually cannot both pay their rent (the most important bill) and adequately feed their families. There are cases recently reported where people had $30 left over a week to pay for food for a family of five. I’m good at budgeting, but I would be pretty screwed trying to manage that here on a long term basis. It also leaves zero money for emergencies like doctor visits, which are usually a minimum $20 (still subsidised) for over-sixes.

    There are other families simply in crisis. There are also, of course, people who shouldn’t be parents. I will say, though, as an aside, that even the few totally useless parents I have met still loved their kids – they simply had zero skills to look after them.

    Yes, it is fundamentally a parent’s responsibility to feed their family. The world, however, is not a simple place, and it’s not always possible for parents, even in first world countries, to do it properly. Therefore schools do it, with help from the community, because someone has to, and it makes our own days go much better when children can concentrate because they’re not hungry.

  128. hineata October 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Actually, that $30 was to pay for everything else, not just food….

  129. Donna October 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    Warren –

    My child is buying lunch at school tomorrow. Does that mean that I am failing to provide food for her? How about when we eat out? I am curious as to what constitutes providing food for my child in Warren-world if her eating breakfast at school does not.

    The school is not “feeding all the students breakfast.” They do make breakfast available to those who want it for a price, just like they make lunch available. I believe that many, if not all, schools do this today.

    However, I live in an area with a large underprivileged population. The majority of the student population in the school district qualifies for free or reduced price meals. For some, school breakfast and lunch are the only meals they eat in a day. For others, school breakfast means that there is money to occasionally feed them something more nutritious than ramen noodles for dinner. Still others come from households where their crackhead mama doesn’t remember to consistently have food in the house. Due to the high level of poverty in the area, the schools do make an effort to get the children to school in enough time to eat breakfast.

    It would be nice if we lived in a world without poverty, but we don’t. I don’t have a problem in the least with schools busing kids to school early enough to eat breakfast. It is not convenient for me to have my child up and ready that early so we get to school another way. No big deal. I am glad that I have the luxury of choice.

  130. Emily October 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    @Warren and Donna–My high school had a “breakfast club” of sorts, as well. The cafeteria sold food, of course, but there were also students from lower-income families who qualified for the breakfast club, which meant that they could get healthy items (milk, juice, fruit, breakfast bagels, etc.), for free. They might have qualified for free lunch as well. Anyway, it was all handled very discreetly, so that the “general population” couldn’t tell who was paying, and who wasn’t. It made sense, though, because it ensured that nobody had to learn on an empty stomach, but at the same time, it prevented the “breakfast club” funding from being wasted on cookies and pop……although, looking back, if the school didn’t want us eating cookies for breakfast, WHY did the cafeteria ladies always bake them first thing in the morning?

  131. Warren October 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    My ex ran the breakfast club at my daughter’s school for years. I had my guys use our service trucks to pick up all the items donated by businesses.

    What I was getting at, was that the school’s here do not schedule buses so that they have meal time before school. All buses get to the school within a reasonable time, but do not make exception for breakfast club users. You would be surprised how many kids you can feed in 20 mins, if you are prepared.

    Your eating out, buying lunches crap just proves how much of a jackass you really are.

  132. Rachel October 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    It’s fun and easy to blame the school for this, but I’m going to have to give them a pass on this one. 1) PARENTS CAN LET THEIR KIDS WALK. There’s no reason most typical children aged 8+ can’t walk by themselves or with friends and siblings 1/4 – 1 mile home on sidewalks. If there aren’t sidewalks, then why aren’t the kids on a bus?
    2) SCHOOLS DON’T WANT TO DO THIS MALARKEY EITHER. But if ONE child goes missing for more than a minute–LAWSUIT!! The parents sue for being frightened. Lawmakers make ridiculous security-theater laws and punish schools for breaking them. Schools are terrified of being sued, and sued and sued while more and more ridiculous laws are being put into place. As though kidnappers hover, just out of sight of the school, ready to snatch every child out of sight of an adult.
    Now, if your school is just enacting this craziness as a “preventative” measure without outside pressure to do so — speak up! Go to PTO meetings. Go to School Board meetings! Call them on the idiocy that wastes everybody’s time and money.
    And let your kid WALK to school.

  133. Christi October 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    I hate the pick up line but I understand it. I do drop off because we aren’t comfortable leaving the 6 and 9 year olds home by themselves so I go to work after I drop them off at school. It saves us money because we aren’t paying for before school care. I avoid the drop off line by being there just as the school opens. The kids buy breakfast in the cafeteria and eat at school. Warren- we do this because they get a better breakfast then we would feed them at home, it is more convient for us and it works. It is our CHOICE. They also buy their lunches in the cafeteria because they like the food and it actually costs less then packing lunches for them. Three days a week they ride the daycare bus to the daycare after school. Daycare buses have their own line and don’t have to wait. We pick them up from school on the other two days because we have an activity right after school and if we wait for them to get to the daycare we are late. We would also be late if we waited for them to walk home. I do think it is nuts but in our situation it is a must. We don’t trust the 6 year old to make it to school on her own and she won’t listen to her brother so walking isn’t an option for us. I don’t have time to walk them to school then walk home for my car in the morning. I’d be late for work.

  134. Warren October 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Wow. So many people, so many excuses.

    Have raised three kids, while in every setting from city, to small town to now rural. From walking to school, to biking, to buses. Working shift work, steady graveyard, to being on call 24 hours a day, to now running my own business. And never once had as many excuses as some in here. WOW.

  135. Donna October 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    My comment about breakfast – “if my daughter rode the bus, she would get to school 15-20 minutes before school starts.”

    Warren’s comment about breakfast – “All buses get to the school within a reasonable time, but do not make exception for breakfast club users. You would be surprised how many kids you can feed in 20 mins, if you are prepared.”

    First, my school doesn’t make exceptions for breakfast club users. ALL buses get to school 20 minutes before school starts.

    Second, you acknowledge that your buses get to school 20 minutes before school – same exact amount of time that I say our buses get to school – so you are just opposed to the fact that our school admits that it is to give kids who need to eat breakfast time to do so and your school simply gets them there 20 minutes early for no reason.

    The fact still remains that my child doesn’t need to be at school 20 minutes before it starts. A couple minutes to get into her seat and get out her book is fine. Not sure why we need to get up 20 minutes early to get her to school to do nothing for 20 minutes just so that she can ride a bus a mile. You have yet to give a reason why riding the bus is so damned important to our children’s future that we all need to inconvenience ourselves so that our kids can experience it other than it is not Warren’s way.

  136. hineata October 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Come now, Donna, there is no other conceivable way to live than Warren’s way. The rest of us are just sheep, or I gather in your case now, jackasses. Full of excuses, blah, blah, blah (or should I say, baa, baa, baa?)….

    So now you’re an expert on school breakfasts, eh, Warren? That seems rather out of keeping with your above statement regarding parental responsibility for the provision of breakfast. Frankly I don’t buy it……..though I would get my kids to buy breakfast at school if it was provided, and it was better and cheaper than what I could reasonably provide at home. That’s common sense, not ‘excuses’, regardless of how you personally might choose to look at it.

    Thank the good Lord I live in my own piece of the real world, not Warren’s one.

  137. hineata October 8, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    @Donna, one reason though why a child might want to get to school early is of course just to play with friends, which they are not going to get to do after school if they’re caught up in crazy lines like the OP’s case 🙂 . I would imagine school breakfast becomes a social thing too – I know it does at our school.

    None of which, obviously, means that you personally need to put your daughter on the bus……

  138. Donna October 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    hineata – There is little opportunity to socialize before school. None of her friends eat breakfast at school and they are in different classrooms so can’t really hang out before school – no loitering in the halls allowed.

    However, because we don’t follow Warren’s rule to ride the bus no matter what, she does get to play with her friends for well over than 20 minutes every afternoon on the playground after school. Today they hung out, engaging in active free play outside, for almost an hour and a half before we were chased off (we can only stay until the after school program kids come out to play). It’s horrible I know. She totally should have been spending that time sitting on a school bus instead.

    But back on breakfast, since poor students make up the majority of the student body in the district (although not at our specific school), shouldn’t their needs actually rule the busing decisions? I would understand an argument that the majority of rich kids shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced for poor kids to eat breakfast (I don’t agree with it, but it at least makes coherent sense), but a view that the MINORITY rich kids shouldn’t be inconvenienced for the majority poor kids seems a bit ridiculous and elitest.

  139. Emily October 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    About the breakfast program thing, some schools here in Ontario (and possibly elsewhere in Canada) have been providing food free of charge for anyone who needs/wants it. I’ve been at my old high school recently, to visit, and also to promote a project I’m doing, and the school office has a big bowl of apples, and a big Ziploc freezer bag of individually-wrapped sandwiches, for students who get hungry during the day, and don’t have food or money with them. I think that’s a pretty good solution–the school doesn’t provide “fun” (junky) food for the kids, but they do provide sustenance, which means that nobody has to learn on an empty stomach. There’s also an exercise bike in the office, so that students with pent-up energy can stop in and pedal it off before resuming their daily activities.

  140. Lea October 10, 2013 at 2:42 am #

    Riding the bus often has so many drawbacks and inconveniences it just isn’t worth it. Nobody is being robed of some childhood treasure by not riding it.

    First off, it often really is a case of sit facing forward, no talking or socializing for an hour or more. Kids are assigned seats, they have to face forward, hands in laps or on backpacks that are on laps and nothing above a whisper. This leave no room for fun socializing, catching up on homework or reading. It can be pretty miserable, especially when you’ve woken up and hour or more early just for this privilege. Even on buses that allow for kids to do things like read, talk or do homework, they are almost always assigned seats and not allowed to talk about a whisper or to lean their heads around t other seats in order to talk to someone not right next to them. doing homework or reading on a bus is far from productive or fun. It stops and starts all the time, even the best shocks on a bus aren’t great and plenty of kids simply gets sick trying to do reading activities like that. The most common thing to do on the bus….sleep. They can do that at home if it’s just as convenient to drive them. Then they don’t have to get on a bus an hour and a half before school starts (when a car ride is under 15 minutes to the school) so they can end up at school a half hour early to either eat breakfast of sit on the floor up against a wall and wait.

    I don’t really think kids who don’t ride the bus are missing out on some great and fabulous, character building experience. I rode the bus as a kid, the rules weren’t quite as strict and frankly I still hated it. I took the city bis all over and loved it, the school bus was a fairly miserable experience. I don’t know a single person that has great memories of bus rides to and from school.

    Buses aren’t even provided, unless you live a good distance from the school, in plenty of districts. Thankfully most parents who drive simply drop off and pick up a block or so from the building. Also thankfully most of the schools are built in areas where this is at least somewhat possible. Reading up on some of these stories gives me chills. I am not a patient person or a follow arbitrary rules kind of person. I know I would not be a well behaved adult with some of those rules.

  141. Buffy October 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Wait a minute, going out to eat = jackass? Seriously, Warren, you have never one time in your entire life eaten a meal in a restaurant?

    Scratch that, don’t even answer. Because you’re going to say that you’ve never ever gone out to eat, and I’m not going to believe you.

  142. Emily October 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    @Buffy–To be fair, I don’t think Warren meant that eating out AT ALL was a jackass thing to do; I think he meant that buying fast food for dinner (like the Heck family on The Middle) every day is a jackass thing to do. I actually agree with that, because, besides the fact that it’s nutritionally insidious, and costs much more money than cooking at home, cooking dinner WITH your kids is a good opportunity to teach them how to cook. Kids who grow up on a steady diet of fast-food hamburgers and take-out pizza often don’t learn how to cook healthy food (or really any kind of food), and they take those habits into adulthood, and pass them on to their own kids. I think that that’s what Warren meant–I’m sure he didn’t mean that everyone who’s ever gone to a birthday party at a restaurant, or had fast food in a special circumstance (like, say, a road trip), is a jackass.

  143. Buffy October 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Emily,here’s the direct quote:
    “Your eating out, buying lunches crap just proves how much of a jackass you really are.”

    This says nothing about fast food, take-out food, nor a steady diet of same. It says “eating out” and “buying lunches” which apparently are taboo and jackassish in Warren world.

    Nope. I’m not giving him a pass on that.