Safe Sax? Impossible, Says School Bus Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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119 Responses to Safe Sax? Impossible, Says School Bus Company

  1. Cedric October 20, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    That is asinine-even more so if they issued him the instrument.

  2. Rich Wilson October 20, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    He just needs to find a differently shaped case to hold it, so it’s not obviously a Sax.

    Airlines love to charge extra fees for things like bikes, but if you can put your bike in a non-bike box, they’ll happily take it without the extra fees. As long as you forget to mention that the stuff in the box could be made into a bike.

    (or at least that was the case the last time I did any flying with bikes, which was pre-9/11)

  3. Kacey Bollrud October 20, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    Do they have seat belts on school buses in Boston, or whatever kind of bus he is riding. The buses in Florida and most others I have ridden on do not have seat belts. It seems like that is probably more of a safety issue than a bulky musical instrument.

  4. Lollipoplover October 20, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    This made me laugh. My son’s best friend also plays the Sax but he rides his bike to school. He wanted to strap the Sax on his backpack(using bungee cords) to avoid the car line. His mom didn’t go for it.
    She lets him bike on his music days and does an instrument drop and pickup with another parent who has the same problem.
    My son gets to pick an instrument this year. I’ve been trying to talk up the oboe or piccolo. Wind instruments travel better than strings and horns!

  5. Neener October 20, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    My daughter plays French horn, and due to the size of the instrument, Fr horn and tuba players are allowed to rent an at-home instrument from the district so they don’t have to haul them back and forth. For us, $65/yr, but I swear I would have paid $65/mo for the convenience! If their district doesn’t do the same and the mom can swing it financially, she might even look into renting one from a music store.

    Of course, none of that should even be necessary. If the bus is so crowded as to not allow a sax case under the seat, the district needs to address the overcrowding! What’s next? No backpacks, kids…there’s just no room!

  6. Catrina October 20, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    I’m a middle school band director and, unfortunately, this is an all-too-common complaint I hear from my colleagues. If the bus is that crowded, then they need to split the route and allocate another bus… but if the case fits, then why are we concerned?

    Should we also tell students that they should not bring their backpacks on the bus because they are unsafe when they are not secured?

  7. Bob October 20, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    I’m so glad my kids don’t go to school.

  8. Marie October 20, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    Makes me think about backpacks too. How can the sax case be too much?

  9. KD October 20, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    Let’s see, my kids have been shoved under a bus seat by older kids, called names, yelled at by the bus driver for very minor infractions, are late EVERY day oh and there is that mystery from last year over my daughter’s coat, when the bus driver claimed she couldn’t find it and then claimed that she took it because it had been on the bus for more than 10 days unclaimed and then is appeared after I called in a complaint (the bus driver dissappeared at the same time)….but we are worried about a SAXAPHONE! I played cello, my brothers both played sax and we took our instruments on a crowded bus with no problem. I would be more worried about the kids with no respect ot discipline doing harm to the instrument than the instrument itself doing harm to another child. I like the idea of having available rentals for situations like this and I disagree with the school deciding to just refund the parents momey without asking the parents if they are able to drive the kids to and from school. Pick-up, drop-offs at schools are nightmares and taking the bus is the more sane as weill as environmentally friendly choice and a choice the parent should have.

  10. Jespren October 20, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    What I want to know is why is this kid (parents) paying a bus fare for a school bus?? Are there really school districts that charge for the use of the school bus?? That’s like charging the kids admission if they want to use a desk.

  11. huelsen October 20, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    Yes, there are school districts that can’t afford school buses, so the buses are provided by private companies for a fee. In our district, I believe it’s currently $420 or so per child for a year-long roundtrip pass. Since there is also a distinct lack of safe walking routes, we are stuck with chauffeuring our kids the 1.5 and 2.5 miles to their respective schools.

  12. Attorney At Large October 20, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    Good grief. I just wish I had video of myself wrangling that bassoon case on the bus for three years!

  13. clarinetist October 20, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    A simple solution might be for the student to bring only his mouthpiece to school and use a school instrument for band. He then can leave his instrument at home all for practice time.

    Or they could just be reasonable and let him bring the darn thing. But these days very little is reasonable.

  14. Cam October 20, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    What’s baffling to me is that it’s a tenor sax, not even an alto sax. Those things aren’t large, it’s not like it’s a cello that needs it’s own seat.

  15. Brenda Adler October 20, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    Maybe the bus company should just pay to rent a second instrument to sty at the boy’s home 😛

  16. NZ mum October 20, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    Wait… you don’t have to pay for a school bus in parts of the US?! Then why are people driving their kids to school?

    The buses in NZ have every right to say what can come on a bus because we are paying for buses. Just as you can say what goes in your car.

    Yes this is stupid that this kid can’t take a sax on the bus but as the parents don’t own the bus, then it’s not their call. And the child could leave his sax at home and just take the mouthpiece.

    And as for the ‘I work full time’ argument, it’s my ‘hot button’ topic at the moment. Lots of mums work full time. They just make it work. Stop whinging and come up with a solution.

    Yep I’m cranky down here in little old NZ. Today I have had four working mothers whinge about how they have to organise their kids. *sigh* It’s called parenting and it’s hard work. End of story.

  17. Tracy October 20, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    or we could just empty the school buses of the kids too then everyone will be really safe 🙂

  18. Hineata October 20, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Amen, NZMum, Amen…My favourite line from working mums used to be the one that, they didn’t have time to volunteer, they were working. Why couldn’t I do ‘it’ – whatever the particular ‘it’ was at the time, because I wasn’t working. Three kids under 5, 2 of them under two, helping out at kindy, Plunket, husband who worked all hours, yada, yada, yada…and still I should be picking up their slack. I feel another Tui billboard moment coming on….

  19. Violet October 20, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    Nz, get over yourself. My son was given a hard time about his frech horn by one bys driver but most let it slide. One problem is that kids do not go to school in their neighborhood. My brother and i used to walk more than a mile with our inatruments. My son attends a school that is 45 minutes away on the bus. I would rather see him bring his horn home every day over his books!

  20. Hineata October 20, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    P.S. I loved almost every moment of being a sort-of SAHM, sado-masochist that I am, I just didn’t enjoy being made to feel like I was somehow on a luxury cruise while they were battling the ‘real’ world. Choices, choices, choices….

  21. MondoMOM October 20, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    The bus company should pay for a separate shipment of the instrument from home to school and back everyday! 🙂

  22. Violet October 20, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Nz, what if the school doesnt have an extra instrument?

  23. Taradlion October 20, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Ummmm, as a working mom who does volunteer at school, and is on the PA, and bakes cupcakes for bake sales, etc, etc….I have to say that kids’ transportation to and from school can absolutely impact on work – it is harsh to assume that this mom is bailing on everything else. Kids are not always in walking distance of school or able to get there on their own, even if that is the ideal. Our bus changed morning pick-up to 20 minutes later. I set my schedule based on the pick-up time I was given, and I work at a school several days a week, so as a “working mom” it is causing me to juggle more than I would have to if I was at home…I’ll manage, but work can be a concern (without it being a “get out of doing stuff for your kid for free card”).

    As for the sax – I can see it now, a band of only flutes and clarinets…maybe drums (since kids usually only carry the sticks), but with no horns…stupid. Now, if the bus company could demand kids not be “allowed” to carry 50 lbs of text books for homework, I would be all for that.

  24. Silver Fang October 20, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I know of an overcrowded school bus where one of the girls brings a baritone aboard every few days. It’s big and unwieldy, but a way is found to transport it.

  25. Melissa October 20, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    For those surprised that some have to pay for bus service, our district doesn’t even have buses anymore at all because of budget cuts, so we don’t have any choice but to do the drop off or pick ups, arrange car pools or kids walk. The only time our district has buses is for field trips, and to and from sporting events for sports teams, and we pay a per sport “transportation fee, anywhere from $45-65.

    Since when is a musical instrument a safety hazard? I would imagine that providing a second instrument is an expense the family may not be able to afford. Maybe since the bus company the school district hired is creating hardship on the family, then the school district and the bus company needs to solve the problem. How about free bus service so that they family can take that $225 and rent a second instrument for the school year. The boy should not be expected to have to give up band because of the idiot bus company, and Mom shouldn’t be inconvenienced either. Maybe it’s time for the school district to get a new bus company.

  26. Kathryn October 20, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    My seat partner and I used to sit ON my bass clarinet case.

  27. Dee October 20, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    This reminds me of an email from my child’s school this month:

    “Just a reminder that students should not play instruments outdoors on school grounds or during extended day. This is a safety hazard to the students as well as the instruments. Students should keep their instruments safely in their cases until they are home.”

    Guess they won’t be starting a marching band anytime soon.

  28. Donna October 20, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    Wow. Glad my kid who totes a guitar to school simply asked the bus driver if he could bring it on the bus, and the driver’s sane reply, “as long as it doesn’t need it’s own seat”. Brother holds his brother’s backpack and his own (one under the seat) and guitar boy holds the guitar. That’s the sane answer.

  29. Hineata October 20, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Sorry Taradlion, I am sure some ‘working’ mothers do volunteer, it’s just been my experience around here that a lot of them don’t – maybe we have more SAHMs here, and they feel they can offload their responsibilities more easily. And I do mean responsibilities – can’t count the number of times a ‘friend’ who was ‘working’ would expect me to drop everything and pick up their kid, because I was at home and of course I could drop everything to help them out….

    Back to the bus thing – the only time my ten-year-old actually catches the bus these days is when she has to take her cello, as I am too chicken to allow her to strap it to her back and bike – the last time she broke the thing it was a $500 repair bill, not to mention the embarassment! Guess we are very lucky that we have had good bus drivers so far….

  30. fighting for my children October 20, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Wow! What could be worse than playing in the band. They should encourage it and let him put his instruments under the seat. He could be out partying and selling crack. They should be glad he is doing something constructive and find any way they can to encourage it.

  31. przxqgl October 20, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    when i was a kid riding the school bus to school, i had a trombone, which is slightly bigger than a tenor sax, and i used to take it with me to school – on the bus – every day…

    when one of the bullies started picking on me, it was also pressed into use as a very effective weapon, which glanced off the bullies’ head and broke a window…

    i was seriously afraid that the bully and/or the bus company was going to come after me, but neither one decided to extract their revenge. 😉

  32. Boco October 20, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Silver fang’s comment reminded me of my bus-riding days. I started playing the baritone in 5th grade. I lugged that thing home routinely for years! Sometimes, one of the older kids would help me get it on and off the bus. However, I was dropped off at the bottom of a long hill from our house. Occasionally, when it was raining, my mom would pick me up when I got off the bus. Otherwise, I managed to make it home. As I recall, the bus was the easiest part!

  33. Renee (Zerbel) West October 20, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    And yet, children are left to flail about the bus without any sort of safety restraints (unless they’re on the special education bus)…they’re seriously worried about a saxophone taking up room to the point that it’s dangerous? Have they looked on a bus lately?

  34. Ren Höek October 20, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    Stuff like this is why I stick to public transportation. They’re usually on time, more flexibility, not much crowding, cheaper and you get treated with respect

  35. NZ mum October 20, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    BTW I am a ‘working’ mum. I work full time. I also have my kids every day. I work night shift and then watch the kids. So yeah I’m a little cranky at the ‘working’ mums (what mother isn’t working? I’m sure being a SAHM is HARD work too!) who can’t figure out what to do to get their kids to school.

    I’m not from the states (obviously lol) so I don’t understand your school system. But from what I’ve read here, if my husband is offered a job to film there, we aren’t going because it sounds like your school system SUCKS!

    Hineata OMG I couldn’t agree more! Let’s get that Tui sign up! You tell those working mums to come see me down here in Welly! I’ll sort em out! 😉

  36. socalledauthor October 20, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    First off, buses are not cars. They are designed to be safe without the use of seat belts. Just because it “seems” unsafe doesn’t change the facts.

    Secondly, I can’t think that this was really the best solution for this kid. If I was the parents, I’d start asking about the other kids who surely play large instruments. The article notes that this kid’s bus is the only one “too crowded” for large instruments– is it really that hard to change a few kids to a different route to alleviate that overcrowding? I can’t imagine that the bus routes in the district have no overlap and no possibility to shift a few stops to another route. I was one of those bus stops that got shifted from time to time.

  37. socalledauthor October 20, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Here’s a link to back up my claim about facts on school buses: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40820669/ns/us_news-life/t/why-your-childs-school-bus-has-no-seat-belts/

    Also, if any has ever been whacked with a seat belt, like used to be standard in the center back seat without the lapbelt… we don’t want these in the hands of some children on the bus.

  38. Ren Höek October 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Are people still with that seat belt arguement? To devlop such a system to serve all its passengers you have to take many factors into consideration.

    To serve the needs of all students their would have to be adjutable belts for students from pre-k to 12th grade (a space issue). The district may be inclined to hire aides to monitor usage (a monetary issue).

    How much more of a safe vehicle do you want? The seats are of a padded material and high back which reduces sight for passengers of smaller stature and reduces legroom for older/larger students; the vehicle is on a high floor chassis which means the under carriage would take the most damage if said bus was involed in a crash. School buses are uncomfortable enough already, why make it worse for students that have to deal with space and overcrowding issues already?

  39. FrancesfromCanada October 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    NZ moms, all of you — do we really need to have mommy battles? Everybody is working hard raising their kids. I’ve done it both ways (admittedly only 18 months each way, my boy is only three) and both have their challenges. If you don’t like your friends asking you to drop everything to bail them out, say no!

    But you have to admit working at home does allow a bit more flexibility than do most workplaces. At least you can adjust your daily routine around the non-negotiables like school hours. I have absolutely no idea how people do it when they have to get kids to daycare or school, sometimes more than one, and get themselves to work on time. Somehow they do, though, and they have my undying respect.

    This bus story sounds odd to me; why would a musical instrument be any different than any other cloptrop the kids carry on with them? Though I do remember in university being refused on public transit when I was trying to carry paintings back and forth. I used it as a good reason to get a scarce-as-hen’s-teeth parking space.

  40. Andy October 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I am not from USA, so I have a question:

    What does school volunteers do? How much time does it takes? It seems that there is a lot of it in America and it is somehow considered almost mandatory for a ‘good parent’. (For example the above poster is angry about people that do not volunteer.)

    The country where I live have nothing of the sort. Here, if your kid is not troublemaker, you go to parent-teacher conferences once in a while. If the kid is troublemaker, they call you in often :).

  41. gwallan October 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    How times change. As a teen I pretty much went everywhere with a pair of javelins. Travelled all over the land with them and had no choice but to use public transport – trams, trains and buses. The biggest problem I ever had was explaining to folks that, no, I haven’t been fishing. If I tried that these days I reckon there would be big men pointing guns at me before I could blink.

  42. Taradlion October 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    @ Andy, it really depends on the school. Sometimes there are fundraisers (bake sales, even auctions here in nyc) to raise money and sometimes there are events (carnivals, etc). Parents often chaperon field trips and sometimes will help teachers with special projects….lots of things

    I absolutely don’t want a mommy debate. @ NZ mom and Hineata, I work and it used to make me crazy when mom’s would say, “I can’t, I’m working” – mostly, though, for things like making cupcakes and things that could be done anytime. I had some understanding for things that really impacted on scheduled time (especially if it was EVERY day.

    I actually think this goes some to the idea of parents (working and otherwise) doing EVERYTHING they can to get their own child to get “ahead”, and not doing for kids in general. I love doing things with my kids’ classes b/c I get to know their friends (and teachers) a little better. I also think it is important to do things that help improve the school for ALL kids..not having to do with volunteering, but in this case of the kid with the sax, the problem could be solved just for this kid (and his mom) or they could find a solution for whenever a kid plays a big instrument.

  43. Taradlion October 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    Oh, and I don’t actually think there needs to be some big “solution”…let him and his sax on the bus

  44. Neener October 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    @FrancesfromCanada: THANK YOU SO MUCH. I may have sprained my eyeballs, I rolled them so hard after seeing that working vs stay-at-home mom bs enter this thread. Ugh. Enough! Judge yourself and quit judging others’ life situations. If a working mom does something to piss you off, blame THAT mom, not ALL working moms. If you think a stay-at-home mom is lazy, blame THAT mom, not all sahm’s.

  45. NZ mum October 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Wow okay so FOR THE RECORD I am not advocating a witch hunt! All mums work hard and I understand that! I’m just over hearing mums whinge about how terrible their lives are because they work or don’t work. So can we all calm down!

    I guess I have to be politically correct here and not share my view. Or only share my view if it’s popular.

    And here I was thinking I had finally found a community where I could discuss something freely.

    Guess I was wrong.

  46. Andy October 20, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    @Taradlion thank you. How much time does it take (in average)? How often are those special occasions?

  47. NZ mum October 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    You know what screw it I’m gonna say it. If your kid can’t take their musical instrument to school on the bus, and you and them want to keep playing, you figure it out. The bus thing is stupid, but in the end it is their call because the bus is a service. It doesn’t matter if the rule is stupid, they get to make the call.

    It’s the parent and child’s responsibility to get that instrument to school. The bus is responsible for getting the child to school.

    Don’t like the rules? Then fight them by all means. Go with the right argument. It’s not about safety etc. Don’t pull out the whinging card. Be smart. Use logic. Use stats.

    Anyway I’m done. But please stop whinging and start working to change things you don’t like. Awareness is one thing but action is where change begins.

    Now Hineata, hand me a Tui 🙂

  48. Donna October 20, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    “it’s just been my experience around here that a lot of them don’t – maybe we have more SAHMs here, ”

    Unless you have a 100% volunteer rate amongst SAH parents, the attack should be on parents who don’t volunteer, not working parents. I know for a fact that every SAH parent doesn’t volunteer in my school and I highly doubt that they do in most others.

    I do volunteer because I have a very flexible job much of the time. However, I also understand that working parents generally work during school hours. Not everyone can take their vacation time to do things in their child’s classroom. Not every volunteer opportunity falls at times that missing work is possible. Not everyone who works has paid time off and can afford to miss work. For most, keeping the job they have is probably going to rank over reading to their children’s class every single time because the have to keep a roof over their kid’s head and food in their kid’s stomach.

    Worry about yourself and not others. Learn to say “no.” If you don’t want to volunteer for something, don’t. If you don’t want to pick up your friend’s kids, don’t. But stop choosing to do these things and then acting as if you are being put-upon by others. Only one burdening yourself is you.

  49. kiesha October 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    If I hadn’t been able to take the bus to school, I wouldn’t have gotten to school. Although all my schools were only about two miles from my house, I lived in the sticks and we had no sidewalks to walk on. The roads were all twisty-turny and people did 60 on them like it was no big thing. We had car accidents every month where some dumb person took a corner took fast and flipped their car right over. So walking was out.

    And as far as my parents taking me to school, well… my mom and dad both left for work long before the school day started. My dad left the house at 5 a.m. and drove an hour to his job. My mom left at 6 a.m. or so for a job that started at 7 a.m. My school day didn’t start until 7:45 (middle/high school) and around 8 a.m. (elementary school).

    In elementary school, my grandparents got me ready for the school day. My grandmother had never learned to drive and my grandfather wasn’t allowed because his memory had started to go and he was no longer safe behind the wheel.

  50. oncefallendotcom October 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    Saxophones are instruments of the devil. After all, Slick Willy played one.

  51. Eika October 21, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    I played in band from 4th grade until my freshman year of college. I’ve been on plenty of trips with the band where we had to keep our instruments, in cases, in our laps or on seats. Big instrument players were jealous of the saxophones; those things are NOT big instruments.

    To put it into perspective, I’m currently in college. A saxophone case is maybe a few inches longer than my backpack. It is smaller than the gym bags/duffel bags several of my friends used in high school; as someone who volunteers at the school when I’m home, I can say people are still bringing bags bigger than it to school. Depending on the make of the case– and, because I doubt a middle-schooler has a professional saxophone, it’s almost certainly a light case– it might weigh ten pounds. My trombone, in its case, didn’t weigh twenty, and that was far bigger. I have seen saxophones, in cases, held in the lap– where they are typically easier to hold onto than an overstuffed backpack– and fit under the seat, again, usually with more ease than a gym bag or backpack.

    Band, and music, is just as important– if not more– than gym. They should not have a problem with something smaller and lighter than what many other students are taking on those busses.

    And parenting issues have nothing to do with that.

  52. Neener October 21, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    Well said, Eika!

  53. pentamom October 21, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    NZ, it’s true that it’s the bus company’s right to dictate what they’ll allow on the buses, but isn’t there a time and place to protest what seems to be a pretty unreasonable policy and ask for it to be changed? Presumably they’re under contract to the school, as well, and if they aren’t providing the school the services they’re contracted for in an appropriate fashion because their policies are unnecessarily restrictive, that’s also something to look at as well.

  54. Amy October 21, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    some backpacks are bigger than a saxophone case, assuming it’s an alto sax. Tenors are bigger. Ok, I just read the article and it is a tenor which is bigger. He has to pay to ride the school bus? Is this common-I haven’t heard of that before.

  55. Lollipoplover October 21, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    What if this kid could be the next Clarence Clemons? If I were his mom, I’d give extra money for a seat for the Sax and have a nice chat with this bus driver.

    As for the words on this thread about mommy battles, I like to see it more as a mommy race. For all of us parents, the goal of the race is to just finish. I don’t judge my fellow parents on how they are running the race (everyone has different styles) with more points given for volunteering or doing the most activities. Frankly, that would be exhausting. I just do what I can and assume most others are doing their best, too. I honestly don’t care if they are not. There are no parenting awards or trophies. Your prize is the kid(s) you raised, and hopefully you did a good enough job to enjoy them.

    I’ve actually been every combination of working mix there is (full-time, part-time, work from home, unemployed, now stay at home!).
    There is no magic bullet combination. All have pros and cons, just like every life decision.

  56. Amy October 21, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    I’m, not sure if this boy is in middle school or elementary school but by the time I got to middle school (I play the tenor too) I didn’t have to take my instrument back and forth because they had the bigger instruments for school use. We didn’t have pay either, but I don’t know if this is the case today, as this was 20 years ago.

  57. socalledauthor October 21, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    NZ mum– you seem confused about what political correctness is. It does NOT cover the right to say whatever without consequences. You can say anything you’d like, but when you do so without considering others, you must accept that you may get unfavorable responses. If you are unwilling to accept that others will disagree without (or try to blame it on “oh, I guess I should be “politically correct” even though I didn’t think I should have to”) then perhaps you should reconsider speaking. Agreement or disagreement are part of discourse– either accept them or not, but don’t whine about how you “can’t” speak your mind when you don’t get a chorus of cheers for your position.

    This crap is one of my pet peeves. It’s no one else’s problem that you can’t handle their response to your words. And it has NOTHING to do with being politically correct, or not.

  58. socalledauthor October 21, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    arg– should be disagree with YOU, not without.

  59. Julia October 21, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    Here’s a succinct and cogent explanation of “the difference between being politically incorrect and just being a big, fat jerk.” http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/2783-Correctitude I highly recommend it.

  60. Neener October 21, 2011 at 3:23 am #

    @Julia, thank you! That was hilarious and absolutely spot-on!

    @Lollipoplover – I love your phrasing, a “mommy race”. So true! Maybe even Mommy Marathon! Like you, I’ve been every combination, and every one had its challenges. When I was at home and something needed to be repaired, well, how simple! I’m home, come anytime! Except that we’re stretching one paycheck so…oops, maybe just leave that washing machine to its bizarre squeaky noise for one more week. And when I was working and something needed to be repaired, heck yeah, do it now! Oh except that I have meetings all week and so guess it will have to wait until next week. And around and around.

    Right now I’m working full-time, so I’ve spoken with all the teachers at the beginning of the year and said I will probably never be able to volunteer my time in your classroom, BUT if you need supplies or want the kids to do a project that’s not in the budget, please call me first! So I was able to buy vats and vats of glue for some science project I don’t even pretend to understand that I’m told the kids did something awesomely cool with. I feel lucky that I was financially able to do this, and sad because I couldn’t be there to see it myself. It’s all a trade-off.

    I bristle when someone generalizes…Working Moms vs SAHM, The Gays, The Blacks, The Mexicans (I’m in TX), The Republicans, etc. It’s not right and has no place in civilized conversation. (Holy cats, I am STILL laughing over Julia’s video!)

  61. Anne October 21, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    This post has certainly generated numerous responses! Couldn’t agree more with most of the comments here, the boy deserves to bring his sax on the bus!

    I was wondering would you be interested in sharing your articles with other like-minded parent bloggers? If yes, please email me at [email protected] with Parents in the subject line.

    Thanks,
    Anne

  62. MommyMitzi October 21, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    The news article linked to quotes the superintendent saying this is because of “safety first”–I’m so sick of that line. I commented on the actual article itself and encourage others to do so too. Here’s my comment:

    “The superintendent of schools was quoted as saying, “The school district always has to put the safety of the students first.” “.

    Really? The district puts “safety first”? I would think that educating the students would be a higher priority, otherwise why go to school? If it’s really about “safety first” than I assume they have padded suits for the kids to wear all day and on the bus, no recess, no lunch (someone could choke! slip on a banana peel!), no phy ed, no windows in the classrooms, etc. “Safety first” is a very hard status to maintain but I guess if that’s their priority, well, who can argue with safety? (I will just make sure I NEVER move to that school district!) Or wait, maybe they don’t ACTUALLY mean “safety first” but use that as a panacea for any issue they don’t really want to deal with or solve because who in their right mind would argue with “safety first”?

    In other words, “safety first” is a lazy, unacceptable cop-out answer. In fact, Mike Rowe of the TV show Dirty Jobs has some interesting things to say about “safety first”: http://www.mikeroweworks.com/2009/03/safety-first-or-just-in-the-top-3/.

  63. Amy October 21, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    I just wanted to say that while your pictures and captions always make me laugh, this one actually made me spit out my coffee. Hilarious!

  64. Nicole Pelton October 21, 2011 at 5:05 am #

    I suspect the school has been listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell me – they poll every musicion about the sexiest instrument and it’s always the Sax. So perhaps they are just concerned about the innocent girls.
    Pitiful.

  65. Anne October 21, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    Hello, I was somewhat surprised and pleased to hear your dulcet tones on RTE the other day. I read your blog and think I know you. This may be a mistake but you know, I thought you’d like to know that your fans were listening.

  66. michelle October 21, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    What about that spot under the bus we they stash the lunches on feild trips?

  67. Dolly October 21, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Is something this small news? Not being snarky, just wondering. It seems like a daily thing that probably happens in life. If they don’t have room, they don’t have room. So either don’t take it home to practice, switch instruments, get one to keep at home, drive him to school, do some kind of instrument exchange where maybe a neighbor or friend can help transport the instrument, etc. They ARE solutions! Not worth freaking out about. Sure life is full of crappy things that screw you sometimes. Happens to me too. I have a son that can never eat out because of food allergies. Makes life suck, but I have learned to adapt and just always have to be prepared and plan ahead. That’s life.

    Also I am with other people that get tired of mothers using working as an excuse for everything. Not saying all mothers are using it as an excuse, but definitely many do. When I worked the working mothers got special treatment and as a mother the working mothers get special treatment. No one says they have to be perfect. Just do the best you can and make it work. Sometimes working mothers have to sacrifice and so do their families. That may mean sacrificing something to do with his instrument or whatever. That’s life. My kids don’t get some more expensive stuff because I stay at home and therefore we don’t have as much money. Life is about choices.

  68. Jen October 21, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    I played the sax in middle school and absolutely hated taking that thing on the bus because of how heavy the case was – mine didn’t fit under the seat but it certainly wasn’t a hazard, I just stood it up between my legs or however it would work. It was just so heavy, I think the most dangerous part was not that it made the bus more crowded but that it started me on the road to back problems that persist even today. But it was my choice! 🙂

  69. Jacinda October 21, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    When I was in 4th or 5th grade, the bus driver refused to let me get on the bus after school one day. The reason? I was carrying a folded-up music stand, because I had played in a band concert earlier in the day. Apparently that was dangerous. So the bus left without me.

    Fortunately, the principal called up the bus depot, bawled them out, and made them send me a new bus. Also, there were cookies.

    Of course, this was the same bus driver who wouldn’t let us have hardcover books on the bus…

  70. Dolly October 21, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Also wanted to say I agree with others that I worry about kids carrying around all the heavy bookbags and books and what have you. I am 30 and already have horrible back pain and a crooked spine. I know since I was studious I always lugged the giant textbooks around every day so I could study and do homework to get good grades. I am sure that contributed to it. I think we need to lay off on all the homework and test pressure some and therefore limit the amount of weight the kids have to carry around.

  71. pentamom October 21, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    “If they don’t have room, they don’t have room. So either don’t take it home to practice, switch instruments, get one to keep at home, drive him to school, do some kind of instrument exchange where maybe a neighbor or friend can help transport the instrument, etc. They ARE solutions!”

    And one solution is to protest the unreasonable contention that there is room for everything and everyone else on the bus, but not the saxophone. Why is it incumbent on the parent to find a “solution” other than the bus company making a reasonable accommodation in order to do what it’s there for — transporting students and their normal gear? It’s not like the kid is taking a drum set or a sousaphone or a portable basketball court to school every day. If after decades upon decades of school bus transportation in this country you suddenly can’t fit a saxophone on a school bus, the problem isn’t with the sax.

  72. pentamom October 21, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    One thing my kids’ school does (and it’s a high school where Big Heavy Books and Lots of Homework are part of the picture) is have “classroom sets” of books where possible. It’s only a few classes so far, but in those cases, my kids don’t have to lug the books back and forth, because they can keep one at home and use one when they’re in class. (If they want to do work in a study hall, then they have to carry one around, but at least that’s not lugging them back and forth to school.)

    It’s not as expensive as it might seem, because it’s only one extra classroom’s worth of books used by multiple sections of the same class, and they all last longer due to sitting on the classroom shelf or on the shelf at home instead of being thrown in and out of backpacks constantly. If the school can resist the temptation to buy new textbooks regularly just for the sake of changing things, it might even be a savings.

  73. Uly October 21, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    NZ Mum, you weren’t just “stating your opinion” or being “politically incorrect”, you were insulting half the people here personally, and also the actual nation and culture most of us live in. What a surprise, folks don’t like being insulted to their (online) faces….

  74. AngeinAus October 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    My daughter regularly carries her French Horn, Bagpipes and school bag on the public bus to school. It’s never been a problem.
    I’d like to tactfully suggest something to those who are worrying about working mothers not contributing to their children’s classrooms. Many mothers are likely to be SAHM’s or working mothers at various times in their lives. When I was at home full time I helped in the class, when I worked part-time I also helped. Now I don’t help much anymore, although I still work part time. Over a child’s school life many mothers will probably have times when they can do more volunteering and times when they can’t manage it. That’s all there is to it. I say you should help out if you can and if you wish to. This doesn’t mean that other people have to. And, trust me, after 13 years, the novelty of helping out does wear off.

  75. gap.runner October 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    Off-topic here…I like to read the articles in the Twitter links on the left hand side of the page. It appears that the one about the woman upset about a man changing her daughter’s diaper at day care was taken down. When I clicked on the link, it said, “Page not found.”

  76. pentamom October 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    I don’t know that this is germane, but there’s something about saxes that is somewhat different from a lot of other instruments — kids often play ones they don’t own. “Just use a different one at home” isn’t always an option, because in some cases, the kid owns an alto or a tenor, but the band director wants him to play one he doesn’t own, because that’s the kind he needs in the band. Since there are three common kinds of saxes in bands (alto, tenor, and baritone), and sopranos are not unheard of, it would be rather unreasonable to expect a family to go out and buy/rent a different kind of sax because the director wants him to play a different one from the one he owns for the year, when the school has one to loan (as is commonly done with saxes.)

    If it’s a bari sax he’s hauling around, that could actually be a problem because those things are pretty big, but that’s also fairly unlikely, particularly in middle school.

  77. Dolly October 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Pentamom:Oh no doubt, she can definitely contest it. I suggest she does. You know as argumentative as I am, I can and will contest anything that I don’t like to the end of time. But if they don’t yield, then yes, she is going to have to find another solution. I just don’t see this as being a huge outrage in the scheme of things.

  78. Donna October 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    “One thing my kids’ school does (and it’s a high school where Big Heavy Books and Lots of Homework are part of the picture) is have “classroom sets” of books where possible. ”

    That was pretty typical in San Diego when I lived there. It saves on lost books too. If one set of books never leave the classroom and the other never leave home, there is very little chance that they will get left on the bus, in a friend’s car, out in the rain, used as second base and the plethora of other things that kids seem to manage to do with their books.

    As for some parents not volunteering, WHO CARES!! If your school is very short of volunteers, then more recruiting needs to be done to get the parents, working and SAH, involved. You may want to look at the atmosphere since I find many parents want to be involved if the PTA/school is welcoming and considers that many parents work. My kid’s school, that underwent a major renovation a couple years ago and now works VERY hard to involve itself in the local neighborhood, is a very welcoming place. It also holds many events in evenings and weekends so as to allow working parents to be involved. The book fair had “family night” so that working parents could come in (and volunteer without taking off work). Each school has one day of nighttime conferences so parents who can’t take off work can still attend. Play dates, clean ups, poetry night, book tailgates etc. are all done in the evening or on Saturday. As a result, the principal actually told my friend when she interviewed for a teaching job that there was a little TOO MUCH parent involvement but they don’t want to discourage it.

    If your school has ample volunteers, why does it matter that Janie enjoys volunteering and has time so does it every week but Josie hates volunteering so never does and Sue would love to volunteer but doesn’t have the time? I volunteer because I enjoy it, not because I’m trying to keep up with the other parents. I certainly don’t sit around tallying up who doesn’t and resenting them. Their lack of volunteering means that a spot is usually available when I want to.

  79. Julia October 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    I’m not sure why so many people are hostile about women setting limits on what people can demand of their time. There are many aspects of volunteering that, in fact, women who have a job to go to cannot do. Why call that “special treatment”? Just because schools try to suck the life out of your family doesn’t mean you have to let them. As an SAHM of 3 I set personal limits on what I was prepared to do for their schools early on. I do exactly the things I want to and no more, whatever my schedule. And yes, I’ve spent my time picking up other people’s kids as a favor too. I always feel that they would help me out in some other way if need be.

    I’m so sad to see this chasm still exists. I thought we’d gotten past this. It seems that some people resent the amount of work they’re doing in the guise of volunteering but “volunteer” is the key word. If you don’t want to, DON’T, whether you’re SAHM or office mom.

    I think we could afford to have a bit of sympathy and kindness in our hearts for a mother whose schedule would make personal instrument delivery difficult, not jump all over her. We all want our kids to have the opportunities they deserve and having the bus company cut up rough is putting a wrench in the works for this mother.

  80. pentamom October 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    “I just don’t see this as being a huge outrage in the scheme of things.”

    That it’s not. But I’m not sure anyone said it was.

  81. Taradlion October 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Donna exactly.

    Above, when I commented that it made me a little nuts when parents that were working (I am working too) would say they couldn’t do something like baking that could be done at anytime because “I work”…I should have said, that I wish that they would say, “this week is crazy for me” or even, “I can’t bake because I’m terrible at it” or even, “I hate to bake”…really what it made me realize is, although I like volunteering and think it is important, I HATE being the one to ask for volunteers, so I try not to take on that role anymore.

    I think having volunteer opportunities that facilitate working parents participation is great. Not everyone can take off during school hours. The truth is, that is especially true for parents who work in SCHOOLS as teachers and other school staff. While those people are educating other peoples kids, their own kids often can’t have them at their school day events (not always possible to work in your own kids schoo).

  82. Lea October 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    This is crazy. The sax case is flat and fits under a seat. I’ve seen backpacks bigger than a sax case!

    A lot of districts don’t have instruments at school so taking a mouth piece and using a school instrument isn’t an option.Even renting a second instrument so you can keep one at school is often noot an option. Schools don’t want the liability if it’s stollen so they won’t let you leave one that isn’t theirs at the school.

    My daughter had to haul her drum, yes her drum back and forth on the bus every day in sixth grade because the school didn’t have one she could use in band class. She wasn’t allowed to leave it at school because of liability reasons. They had one for the seventh and eigth grade classes, just not sixth graders and I argued until i was blue in the face because the classes didn’t even meet at the same times! She went to school seven miles away and me driving her wasn’t an option, niether was walking or biking. She’d have had to of dropped band if she couldn’t take it on the crowded bus. It’s a heck of a lot bigger than a sax and did need it’s own seat.

    Sure if this kid lives close enough to walk or bike then that’s a real option for him getting to and from with the sax but what if he doesn’t? Maybe a city bus is an option, assuming there are any or they go near the school and run at times he can get to school on. If you work and live miles away from school the bus is often the only option for your child to get to and from school. If most of the school rides the bus or lives close enough to walk or bike, then finding a car pool option is probably impossible as well.

    The simpilest solution would be for the bus company to realise that an instrument that fits under the seat is no more of a danger, on a crowded bus, than a big old backpack that’s so full it won’t fit under a seat. Kids wack each other with those backpacks all the time when getting on and off busses, walking down the bus isles and in the school hallways, they are a danger and far more prevelant than a sax. I don’t suggest banning either from anywhere. It’s a bit of common sense, but apparently that isn’t so common.

  83. marni October 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    Interesting how everyone seems to blame the “working mothers” for not volunteering or baking, but there’s nary a mention of “working fathers.”

  84. Julia October 21, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    Ultimately it probably comes down to fear of litigation. Plus it’s just easier for the bus company to say “no sax” and plop the problem in someone else’s lap. Which is an argument for making it NOT easy for the company.

    The logical thing would be to say that since the bus is school-sanctioned transport that they would be required to transport whatever equipment is required for the child to function as a student, whether that’s football pads, a science project or an instrument. Or, if there is a real problem then set a system-wide limitation like airlines have on dimensions of objects carried on the bus and enforce it uniformly, not pick on one kid arbitrarily.

    By contrast there’s public transportation. My kids and their friends take the subway to school and several of them take their bass guitars on their backs which are certainly coming close to wacking a few grownups in the face on the way. But on the subway there are lots of grownups carrying THEIR instruments (it’s always a sight to see someone wrestling their string bass into a subway car) not to mention bikes and strollers and who knows what all.

    And people take it in stride, probably because they have to. Plus it’s not a kid-focused environment so the safety freak-out isn’t in force.

  85. Julia October 22, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    “marni, on October 21, 2011 at 23:52 said:

    Interesting how everyone seems to blame the “working mothers” for not volunteering or baking, but there’s nary a mention of “working fathers.””

    Yeah, it still works that way. Although to be fair there are a fair number of fathers kicking in, at least where we live.

  86. MikeTeeVee October 22, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Pentamom said “If it’s a bari sax he’s hauling around, that could actually be a problem because those things are pretty big, but that’s also fairly unlikely, particularly in middle school.”

    I carried the school’s bari sax home and back on the school bus when I was in 7th grade. It took up a lot of space, but I don’t remember it ever being an issue.

  87. Donna October 22, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    The issue I have with this is that a school bus should be responsible for getting a child and everything he needs for school to school. This child needs this instrument to play in the SCHOOL band during SCHOOL hours and the SCHOOL bus, private company or not, should not be able to refuse to allow it on. The school should step in and demand the instrument be transported to school. Now if this is a mini-Kenny G who takes a sax to school only to take it to the recording studio after school then that would be a different story, but all things needed for school should be able to be transported to school on the school bus. This isn’t about working parents or non-working parents; it’s about ridiculously refusing to allow a school supply onto the school bus.

  88. pentamom October 22, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    Mike TeeVee – I meant it would be more reasonably an issue. It actually comprises more cubic footage than a backpack, and is wide and long enough so as not to fit into small spaces so easily, for example. If space is an issue, it would make more sense to object to a bari case than to a tenor or, for crying out loud, an alto.

    But I didn’t mean to suggest that taking a bari on a bus was extreme, or anything.

  89. pentamom October 22, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    “The issue I have with this is that a school bus should be responsible for getting a child and everything he needs for school to school. ”

    Bingo.

    Sure, private companies have the right to run their businesses the way they want. But private BUS companies (like many other private companies) have these things called “contracts” with the people they service (in this case the school, not the individual families) that specify what they’re supposed to do. And in the case of a bus company, what it is supposed to do is get kids and their necessary gear to school. If they’re hired to move kids and their stuff around, they have to move kids and their stuff around, within reason. And suggesting that a sax case isn’t within reason is, unreasonable.

  90. Donna October 22, 2011 at 3:27 am #

    I’m not even more sympathetic because this is working mother. I’d be equally bothered if it were a SAHM who was simply saying “the school provides buses for kids. I want my kid to ride the bus and am willing to pay the fee, but the bus won’t let my child ride so I now have to drive him to school.” Being a working mother is this particular mother’s situation but not the reason it(s absurd.

  91. sonya October 22, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    I work full time, and there’s no way I could pick my kid up from school every day at 2:45 when school gets out. My middle schooler gets on the bus, my elementary schooler goes to her after-school program. That was all the original poster was saying – that her working hours prevent her from driving her kid to and from school. It’s not a pity thing, it’s just a fact. BTW I volunteer plenty, but I could never volunteer to do something mid-afternoon every day that my daughter has band practice (3X per week) because I would get fired. And over the years I volunteer less than I used to, simply because I’ve discovered dealing with other people’s kids and other parents is not something I am skilled at – if volunteering was a compulsory part of parenting it wouldn’t be called volunteering.

    Regarding the band instruments on the bus: fortunately my daughter’s school recognizes that getting instruments to and from school for a school band is a joint responsibility: kids who play large instruments have one instrument at home, another at school (all rented through the school). My daughter has to take her French horn in for inspection once a semester, and the bus driver has no problem with it. I suggest the parents tell the school that it is not possible for them to drive the instrument to school, so the school needs to provide an instrument at school if they want to include larger instruments in the band.

  92. Orchestra Teacher October 24, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Donna has hit the nail on the head. I teach orchestra at an intermediate school. This issue has come up this year for violins and violas in the orchestra and saxophones and trombones in the band. Some bus drivers are trying to ban these instruments from being carried on the bus. Our band and orchestra classes meet every day and are graded classes. We do have instruments at school for cello, bass and tuba players so that they don’t have to transport an instrument every day. They rent one to keep at home and play one at school. We don’t have the funds to provide all the instruments at school, though. I think it’s an issue this year because budget cuts have made the buses more crowded. One solution someone offered at our school was not to require practice! I don’t know how a beginner would learn to play an instrument without practicing it. So many students ride the bus. It would decimate the band and orchestra if whether you were a bus rider had to be a factor in deciding which instrument to play. Surely the instruments can go under seats or in laps. Unfortunately it’s usually the kids who have financial need who get penalized. The low income housing is far from the school and the bus is their only transportation. The other kids bike or walk with their instruments, or their parents drive. It’s really not a small issue as Dolly suggested. It has lots of ramifications.

  93. Dolly October 24, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Orchestra teacher: Well let me ask you this….how many of your students end up playing instruments professionally? I am not trying to be an ass here, but school is about education first and foremost. I agree that playing instruments has value and can be a great thing. However, in most cases it is a extra curricular type activity. Even if it is graded. It is not necessary for life. I was a dancer and I took that very seriously. However, it was not a given. If money got tight and I could no longer afford the costumes or dance trips or competition fees or even the gas to get to the dance studio, then it would be gone. Dancing was a privilege, not a right. I see musical instruments as the same thing.

    Art is important and has its place, but school is about math, reading, science, history, etc first and foremost. The rest like music, sports, clubs, are just a bonus. A very small percentage of kids actually turn those types of things around into careers. However every student will need the academic subjects for their careers.

    So I am going to still say it is not a huge deal. Now if the bus driver was not letting the student bring his math book on the bus, that might be a huge deal. An instrument, not so much.

  94. Dolly October 24, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Wanted to add my mother knew how important dance was to me. So even when the bills were piling up, she scrimped and saved to be able to keep me at dance. She was a single mom at that time too. She did what she had to do to make it work for me. She even arranged her work schedule so she would be able to rush home in time to drive me to dance class. That is the point here, isn’t it? It is the parent’s job to make it work if they want it for their child! She put in the effort. She killed herself to keep me in dance. This mother could put in that same effort and she might be surprised that a solution will appear.

  95. Dolly October 24, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Oh yeah and another ps-my mom was going through chemotherapy during that time as well. Man I don’t know how she did it. She is a super hero so maybe not everyone can be as awesome as she is, but still, personal responsibility has to come into play at some point. You have to make things happen for yourself. If you can’t drive your kid and their instrument to school, then pick a smaller instrument. Or arrange a friend to help out. Or rent an instrument to keep at home. There are solutions! That might mean the mother takes an extra shift at work each week to afford the rental fees. Well if it is THAT important to her to keep her child in music, than you will figure it out! Life just doesn’t dump everything into your lap. Sometimes we get a raw deal in life, but we have to put on our big girl panties and make it work!

  96. socalledauthor October 24, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Yes, Dolly, some people have options that make it work. Sometimes, I’d love to see how you’d solve all my problems, since you tend to have all the answers.

    The point in this article is that the woman shouldn’t have to “make things work.” The school bus is failing in its job, which is to transport children and their school-related things to and from the school. The instrument is no bigger than most backpacks, an issue that the school bus company doesn’t address. Personally, I’d also love to know whether there are other children who play the same instrument, but, because they ride on less crowded routes, are still allowed to carry theirs on the buss. This isn’t about the mother, but rather about the school bus company and it’s curious, at best, outrageous at worst decision, hidden in the so-called “safety first” argument. Personally, I think she should fight hard– and perhaps getting the story into the media is part of that, as it should be, imho.

  97. Orchestra Teacher October 24, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Dolly, I don’t want to hijack this thread, but music education is an essential part of a child’s education. Students who learn an instrument make better grades and score better on tests than students who don’t. Many engineering schools and medical schools will not look at a student who does not have the study of music on his or her resume. One of my former students is at Juilliard, and several have chosen to become music educators, but regardless of what path they take in life I can honestly say that those students who continued to play their instruments in jr. high and high school have reaped lifelong benefits. Where I live these subjects are not extra-curricular, but are a required part of the curriculum. I think most high schools require one or more fine arts credits for graduation. If you’re really interested in learning more, there is an excellent book by Daniel Pink that makes the case for the arts in education. The book is “A Whole New Mind” and he was a self-professed skeptic about the value of the arts in education. He is an attorney and his thinking was, yeah, music might raise test scores, but using that time to do more math problems would, too, and would be of a more direct benefit. Then he started exploring what changes the information age was bringing to the economy and discovered that music and arts education are actually the key to success if we want to compete in the global economy. The skills, thought processes and creativity engendered by arts education equip students for the new reality we face as traditional jobs in fields such as law, accounting, and even medicine have been outsourced or automated.

    Your point about sacrifices made for “extras’ is well taken. It is exactly my concern about students who could be excluded from playing an instrument or at least from having any success at it just because they live far from school, are low income, and can’t bring their instrument on the school bus which is their only transportation to school.

    Your point about smaller instruments would not apply since the smallest instruments offered in orchestra (violin and viola) were going to be excluded from the bus. It does not seem right that a kids choice would be limited in that way. What do you say? You live in those apartments? You have to play the flute. Everyone else can choose what they want.

  98. Dolly October 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    I guess the whole “Life is not fair” thing comes into play here then. I am not saying the situation does not suck nor should they not try to fight it. Still it is what it is. So if you can’t change what is, then find a solution.

    Notice I said from the start that music has value. I actually was always very upset in school because dance was not considered a “fine art” even though it most certainly is. Just because our school system did not provide dance classes. So for my “fine art” credit I had to take a stupid painting class that I had zero interest in and zero talent for it. So talk about getting the short end of the stick. I had to do all my school stuff and then take up my extracurricular after school. I was not lucky enough to be able to do my extracurricular during school hours and get school credit for it. So from my point of view music kids get it pretty easy.

    Still did I make a huge deal out of it? Nope. I just said “That’s life” and made it work. It stinks for kids that have parents who won’t go the extra mile for them like my mother did for me to give their children what they need to do their extracurricular or school work. But again, that’s life. I don’t see how that is everyone else’s problem.

    Music education has value, but again, it is NOT a necessity. If it was a necessity than EVERY student would have to take it! Yet, they don’t. I never touched an instrument in school and I still got honor roll and went on to college and graduated cum laude with two majors. It still counts as an extra curricular and extra curriculars require extras. Like money for band uniforms and instrument rentals. A parent to drive you back and forth to band camp in the Summer, etc. If the parent cannot make that happen, than the kid does not get to do it.

  99. MikeOnBike October 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Dolly, I don’t understand why you’re quibbling about which types of education are important. The student in the original story finds music education important to HIM.

    Here’s one person’s story about why education beyond the 3 Rs can be very important:

    http://tonyclem.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-we-need-arts-in-school.html

    I still play the saxophone, nearly 40 years after first starting in elementary school. I’m NOT a professional musician, but making music continues to be a regular part of my life. (My day job is in high tech.) My life is richer because of music education.

  100. Dolly October 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    That’s nice. My life is richer because of dancing and the stupid schools don’t offer dancing whatsoever in regular public schools. Some charter schools do. The point is: it is still an extra curricular!!!!! Point being, not a given!!!! You cannot argue that! Until every student is required to take it, then it is a bonus to get to participate in it. Sometimes that means having a supportive parent who is willing to do extras like drive you to band practice, help you transport instruments, pay the band dues, rent an instrument, drive you to performances, dry clean the marching band uniform, etc. If the parent is not willing or able to do that, then the kid doesn’t get to do the extracurricular. I don’t think anyone can really argue with that. It is just a fact. That is my point here.

    So are you saying schools and therefore tax payers should not only pay for general education and music teachers but also pay for EVERY extra involved in music education??? Because that is going to cost a lot! Music has great value, but as of now, it is not a necessity. So you are lucky to get to do it and your parents are going to have to step up if they want you to do it.

    It seems like everyone is just kinda ignoring that elephant in the room that sometimes parents have to sacrifice to allow their kids to participate in extracurriculars.

  101. Dolly October 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    ps- if another parent humbly asked me to help them out by transporting an instrument or driving their kid to practice or whatever, I would help if I could. I am nice like that. I very much support music education. If my child wanted to play an instrument you can bet your britches I would manage to get them whatever they needed in regards to that. Just like my mother did for me and dance. She worked 8 hours as a merry maid while going through chemotherapy to pay for my dance and then rush home and drive me to dance. If she can pull that off, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for other parent’s excuses, just saying. I would still help out if asked though.

  102. kiesha October 24, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    I was required to take either band or choir during sixth and seventh grades.

    Also, can’t say that I use anything above multiplication mathematics-wise in my career. Come to think of it, I don’t use history either. Or foreign language. Or government. Or chemistry. The only classes I took in high school that directly impact my job are English, Typing and maybe Business Computers (although those classes were in ’97 and ’98 and nobody uses WordPerfect anymore). And yet, I was required to take Algebra II, at least two years of a foreign language, government, chemistry and many other classes that have no impact on what I do for a living.

    The trick is that you rarely know as a high schooler what your career might end up being. I thought I knew what I was going to do and even did it for a few years post-college. Then I realized I hated it. Now I do something different. Good thing I got some of that liberal arts education.

  103. Dolly October 24, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    kiesha: True. But in our school district at least and many others, music is never required. We had to have one fine art credit. It could be art, music, choir. Same for college. I took a drama class for college. I took an art class for high school. Never touched an instrument. And with band or choir the teacher tells you when you sign up you have to go above and beyond just school hours. That is why I never did them for one thing. I had dance after school and zero time for anything else. So don’t sign up for something if you can’t go above and beyond! They don’t require anyone to do those type of classes because they can’t. They know that not all parents can afford or commit to it. Just like sports. If you can’t handle it, don’t sign up for it.

    We had girls who would sign up for dance classes and then never show up for class. It would put the rest of us at a disadvantage when you are trying to make a routine. Then we had girls who signed up for competition classes and would not show up. That really was unacceptable! If you commit to something like dance, band, choir, football, cheerleading, etc then you have to pony up for the expenses whatever they may be and the performances, games, etc. If you can’t cut it, don’t do it!

    Like I said, NONE of the above are usually required.

  104. Buffy October 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    And…score. Another thread becomes All About Dolly.

  105. pentamom October 25, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    “The point is: it is still an extra curricular!!!!! ”

    No. It. Is. Not. “Extra-curricular” does not mean something that one person considers non-essential for life. Extracurricular means outside the curriculum, and in most schools, instrumental music and chorus classes (as well as art) are inside the curriculum. This is not changed by the fact that someone does not think it fair that dance, or something else, is not also inside the curriculum.

    If the school offers instrumental music for credit, then the school needs to see to it that children who require and are provided transportation are able to get transportation *with* their *necessary curricular supply* of an instrument. It’s just that simple.

  106. Dolly October 25, 2011 at 12:44 am #

    And..score Buffy comes in to snark out of nowhere again.

  107. kiesha October 25, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    There was a choir and a band in my middle school. They did pep rally-type stuff, practiced outside of school hours (before or after school), etc.

    Then there was the choir or band that was required as part of the curriculum. I had to take choir for two years and we never performed. We never practiced. We came into the band room, sat down and sang for 45 minutes and then left. No homework either, if I remember correctly. I think it was one of those classes were you got graded for participation more than anything else. Like gym.

  108. kiesha October 25, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    Actually, I think we all had to take music appreciation in sixth grade and then band or choir in seventh.

    If you were in the ‘real’ band or choir, then that applied toward your seventh grade requirements.

    I’m pretty sure the kids that took the required band either rented their instruments if they weren’t planning to go on to ‘real’ band or bought them if they were planning to go on to ‘real’ band.

    In high school there was a show choir and the marching band as well as a jazz band. Those were the real deal. I’m not certain that the kids got ‘credit’ for them. I think they were legitimately extra-curricular, like sports.

    But we did all have to take at least one or two years of art to satisfy the ‘fine arts’ credit.

    The point being, I rode the bus to both middle and high school with plenty of kids and their musical instruments.

  109. MommyMitzi October 25, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    The point is that the school needs to figure it out and not use the lame “safety-first” platitude as an excuse. It’s hard to imagine this kid is the only one affected in the entire school district. The superintendent doesn’t want to deal with the issue obviously, so he spouts “safety-first” in agreement with the bus company. But if the buses are so crowded that saxes make it a hazard, then the buses are too crowded period.

    We all understand budget cuts in our schools, but the DISTRICT and the SCHOOLS need to work out a solution. This isn’t solely the parent’s issue. Requiring the driving by parents of each and every band member to/from school in the whole district isn’t a solution. Singling out this particular bus route with different rules (assuming not all the buses are as crowded) isn’t a solution. Maybe having extra instruments at school is. Maybe adding buses is. I don’t know, but the answer absolutely shouldn’t be: Parents–you deal with it. Not for a subject taught at school and for an equipment needed for that class.

  110. Orchestra Teacher October 25, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    The reason this is a free range issue has nothing to do with whether music is curricular where every student learns an instrument (as they do in public schools where I live) or whether it is extracurricular and optional. The issue is that buses that once transported reasonable sized instruments that fit on the bus now do not do so and the reason given is that it is a safety issue. This is a lame excuse used to avoid dealing with justifiably upset parents. After all, who can argue with keeping kids safe, right? Had the bus drivers been successful in keeping violins, violas, saxophones, etc. off of the bus for my particular school over 100 students in my orchestra alone would have been affected. That’s half my students who would have a transportation issue for a “safety” issue that does not exist. Where are the statistics showing that children are being injured by these instruments on buses? What were the circumstances if there were any? That’s the real issue. We are being forced to accept more and more restrictions for kids (and adults) in the name of safety in place of dealing with whatever the real agenda might be. We have become a nation of risk averse people quick to blame parents or teachers for incidents that used to be a normal part of growing up.

  111. MommyMitzi October 25, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    Orchestra–well put and 100% spot on.

  112. pentamom October 25, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    “In high school there was a show choir and the marching band as well as a jazz band. Those were the real deal. I’m not certain that the kids got ‘credit’ for them. I think they were legitimately extra-curricular, like sports.”

    In some schools it is that way, but in other schools (like the one I went to, the one my kids go to, and most of them around here, I think) concert band orchestra and chorus and jazz band and vocal jazz group and all the rest (the real ones, that perform at least twice a year) are full-credit classes, graded, and taking place during the school day. So maybe not always, but at least some of the time, it’s a real class, and instruments are real school supplies. Marching band, OTOH, is an extra-curricular, mainly because it’s only feasible to practice that after school for various reasons.

    Orchestra Teacher is right that the real issue here is an untenable “safety” excuse for something that should pose no problem. I think the other issue came up because it was suggested that a busing company is within its rights to refuse to transport instruments, and some of us disagree, believing that’s not the case since the bus company’s function is to transport students and the things they *need* for school. And if they’re taking band as an actual class, then they need their instruments every bit as much as they need their backpacks. I don’t know that’s the case, but if it is, then the bus company has no real right to refuse to do its job.

  113. Dolly October 25, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Maybe the buses are more crowded because more parents are opting to no longer do the car rider line and that would be a positive thing right? Better for the environment and more free range. Or maybe because kids are obese now they take up more room on the bus. So in that case a bad thing. Maybe they just have budget cuts and have to pack the kids in there on the bus and don’t have room for instruments. I don’t see it as a safety issue either unless the kids are leaving the instrument out in the aisle and kids are tripping over it. It may be just a logistics and space issue. They should not have said it was a safety issue though unless it really was.

    Either way, my opinion still holds that unless that class is mandatory for all students, then the student can always take something else that does not require an instrument if the parents and the school cannot work something else out.

  114. pentamom October 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    “Either way, my opinion still holds that unless that class is mandatory for all students, then the student can always take something else that does not require an instrument if the parents and the school cannot work something else out.”

    There’s no logic to that, though. Just because the class isn’t “mandatory for all students” does not mean it is not a legitimate part of education that the school should provide the necessities for. If they’re allowing kids to take band *and get credit for it,* then the school is assuming the responsibilities of seeing to it that the kid is actually able to fulfill the requirements of that class regardless of his home situation. There should not be any situation where a kid can only get academic credit for something if his financial/family situation allows for extraordinary effort to fulfill it. Not in *public school.* “You can just take another class if your external circumstances don’t allow this” undermines the whole principle of a public school offering a certain class. It’s no better than making kids buy the art supplies or their own books for elective classes.

  115. Dolly October 26, 2011 at 1:49 am #

    Well I agree but honestly in practice it doesn’t work that way. For example, I was in AP English. The teacher would give us a day or two notice to have a typed essay to turn in. Well I didn’t have a computer at home. We had money, but we just did not have one. Of course, she didn’t know it was because of money problems or whatever. She just knew we did not have one. There were computers in the school library but you were not allowed in there during class time or even during lunch or before school or after school. Basically the only way to use the library computers was if a teacher arranged to take the whole class there with the librarian ahead of time.

    SO, there was NO way for me to type my reports and essays without more notice. If I had more notice I could give it to my dad to take to work and type up for me. Or I sometimes could go to the public library or a friend’s house etc. However, I needed more like a week to two weeks notice to do that.

    So in a way I was inhibited by my family situation for what the school asked of me. The teacher worked it out where I was allowed extra time to turn them in typed or she would just let me do them in pen on unlined paper. So we worked it out which is what the OP may need to do. The point is though YES sometimes schools will ask things of kids they can’t always do due to home situations.

  116. pentamom October 26, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    Sure, it doesn’t always work that way, but it should. The fact that it doesn’t always, is no argument in favor of extending that problem to other areas. The school should have seen to it that students without computers at home had access to computers at workable times. My daughter has a friend at school in that very position, and it causes a certain amount of inconvenience, but she is able to do it, because the school doesn’t have an idiotic policy about it. The way your school did it was WRONG, and keeping instruments off buses is WRONG.

  117. socalledauthor October 27, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    What you don’t seem to notice, Dolly, in your example about the AP English class is that the problem was solved IN SCHOOL. Your teacher made accommodations so that you/ your parents didn’t have to. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Students are NOT to be penalized for not having the financial ability to meet requirements of a class. So your teacher worked it out that you would not be penalized for not having immediate access to a computer.

    Similarly, the student in this article should NOT be penalized (such as having to pick another instrument) nor should his parents have to find a solution– like in your case, the SCHOOL needs to find a solution or make the accommodation. Not the student, not the parent, but the SCHOOL.

  118. pat November 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    I live in this town, and you don’t actually have all the facts here. The sax does not fit safely under the seat and it takes up foot space of other children. The bus is not overcrowded its just filled to capacity, the reason the child is paying for the bus service is because he is a walker. His mother does not want him walking so she pays for the bus. Easy fix is just let the kid walk to school!!

  119. Emily November 4, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    it seems like some people are missing the very point of “volunteering”. It’s willingly giving of one’s time. It’s not being guilted to give of one’s times.

    I do not volunteer at my boys’ school. I don’t want to. It says not a danged thing about my parenting. My boys are bright and I’m involved in their education without baking some cupcakes. I also can’t bake to save my life. 😉

    NZ, you came across as arrogant and rude. You weren’t politically incorrect, you were downright disrespectful. You essentially walked into a duck haters convention and waved your duck. Then you had to be the gall to be surprised that we didn’t fall all over ourselves to love your duck.