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Taxpayers furnish transportation...so why are students forced to walk?


by fredo
on 8/18/2009 @ 8:09am
The wisdom of busing students to school is an issue which could be debated. What's not debatable is the Tacoma School District's policy of only allowing certain children to ride the bus. Go to the District's website and under the FAQ section it's all there in black and white...the "rationale" for denying some kids the right to ride the bus. Everyone pays but only certain students ride.


by tacoma1 on 8/18/2009 @ 9:23am
Walk, ride the city buses, or ride a bike. And parents can pay for the city bus fares. No drive by car drop offs for parents allowed.

by seejane on 8/18/2009 @ 11:44am
Sounds like plain old common sense to me.

"Who may ride a school bus?

Eligibility for transportation to/from school for K-12 is based on studentís residence or daycare address. The student must live more than one radius mile from his/her primary school of attendance (PSA) in order to receive transportation. A student may be transported less than one mile if the district determines that the walking route contains hazardous conditions. Approximate walking distance to the studentís assigned stop: 8-10 blocks for high school, 6-8 blocks for middle school and 4-6 blocks for elementary. "

by fredo on 8/18/2009 @ 6:52pm
Jane@

what sounds like common sense to you sounds arbitrary and capricious to me. The people living within 1 mile of school pay for the school bus program just like the people living more than 1 mile. Why aren't they given the opportunity to use the bus system just like anyone else? They pay for it don't they?

Regarding hazardous conditions, I would claim that the streets and sidewalks in Tacoma are hazardous by definition and the proliferation of sex predators, registered and transient alike places every child in harm's way. God help the school district if any child who was denied permission to ride the bus is ever injured en route to school.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/18/2009 @ 8:07pm
There will always be some distance from which a student will not be transported by bus to school. Maybe a mile is too far, but at some point you'd think the district would think it is absurd to transport a student. Is it too terrible that a student gets a little exercise walking to school? I've lived in some of the worst neighborhoods America has to offer. Always walked to school, and often a mile away. People pay for many things via taxes that they are unable to avail themselves of for one reason or another. There is something about providing for the common good.

by fredo on 8/18/2009 @ 8:47pm
Crenshaw@

If the busses are provided for the exclusive use of a select few then by definition they aren't provided for the common good. Since taxpayers foot the bill then why not let the parents involved decide if they want their student to participate? Most people living close would probably say no, but why not let the parents decide? The parent is ultimately in the best position to know what is right for their own child.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/18/2009 @ 9:38pm
I don't have a car but I don't begrudge the Cash for Clunkers program. Seems to me it is a good thing for the economy and I suspect a lot of people that didn't vote for Obama are availing themselves of the program. I'm just waiting for a Cash for Codgers program so I can trade in my tired old body for one that is more gas efficient. Actually if I had a kid that lived less than a mile from school and he had to walk past Charlie Milligan's house I'd probably demand he be bussed to school.

by seejane on 8/18/2009 @ 10:26pm
The bus is provided to any student who lives beyond what our society deems to far to walk. You have every right to move farther away from the school and take advantage of the bus service.

by fredo on 8/18/2009 @ 10:53pm
Parents who want their child to ride the bus need to sell their home and move to another home further away? That's a preposterous solution to a simple problem. The common sense solution is to pick up any child whose parents request the service. They're paying for it!

by Erik on 8/18/2009 @ 11:13pm
Walking to school should be the norm, not the exception.

Why drain funds from the school district for unnecessary busing?

More than consuming mass amounts of sugar and fat-filled foods, studies show that children are less active in general with far fewer children walking and biking to school-- activities that are both green and weight regulating. Since buses have become more the norm than not, a new group has concocted an idea that delivers both the convenience of dropping your child off at a bus stop and a little physical activity to help regulate weight gain--a walking school bus.

planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/fi...


by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/18/2009 @ 11:44pm
We need to drain the money from the school district to make things fair for fredo. I'm sure he'll be happy to pay additional taxes so that even more children can ride a bus to school and then pay even more taxes to deal with their obesity related diseases later on in life. Got insulin?

by jenyum on 8/18/2009 @ 11:54pm
Well, we'll just include 100% bus transportation in the next bond/levy and I'm sure you'll get right out in front of that parade, Fredo.

by panachronic on 8/19/2009 @ 12:59am
I'd be in favor of eliminating the buses altogether for urban school systems like Tacoma's. Particularly for elementary schools, which are simply not spaced that far apart.

Failing that, let those who choose to live farther from the schools pay 100% of the cost themselves.

by Erik on 8/19/2009 @ 1:12am
Failing that, let those who choose to live farther from the schools pay 100% of the cost themselves.

Good idea.

Providing unlimited bus service to remote subdivisions encourages and subsidizes sprawl. Let the parents make the free choice of where they wish to live with the associated costs.

But then again, some will ask if this is fair for the economically disadvantaged. Yet, cigarette taxes are paid at the same rate regardless of income.

by fredo on 8/19/2009 @ 6:06am
I am not advocating the use of busses, nor am I advocating an increase in the number of busses or an increase in taxes provided for bussing. I would eliminate the bus program today and use the proceeds to pay down existing School District debt.

The issue under discussion is the policy of letting the school board rather than the parents decide which students would benefit from bussing.

Society would be better served if students walked or rode bicycles to school for both health and economic reasons. I suppose the sad bus spectacle is providing a life lesson of sorts for the youngsters, "Mommy and Daddy couldn't possibly know what's best...trust the bureaucracy."

by jenyum on 8/19/2009 @ 7:38am
Why is it a "sad bus spectacle?"

We had this conversation a long time ago and I think I pointed out then that there are a lot of programs which mandate that certain students be bused. (Typically special ed.) No Child Left Behind also mandates busing if parents request another school in place on one designated as "in improvement." Parents who simply choose a different school through Tacoma's general open enrollment policy can't request busing unless they specifically trigger the NCLB law. (And most don't) The actual school boundary areas are small enough that most students won't qualify to ride the bus to their neighborhood school, until middle school or high school.

Special ed laws and NCLB are both federal mandates and don't have anything to do with the school board. Probably the most effective way to stop busing so many kids would be to bring all neighborhood schools up to higher standards, and maybe conduct an audit of special ed programs to make sure they are well distributed. The latter is very difficult, however, because each special ed student is entitled (under the law) to an individualized educational program.

by fredo on 8/19/2009 @ 7:55am
Jen@ I'm prepared to acknowledge that you're an expert on all things educational.

However the topic isn't special education or No Child Left Behind. The topic is the arbitrary decision by the Board to redline some children out of bus service based on the location of their home. Remember, the people inside the redline pay for the bus and may wish to use the bus.

by jenyum on 8/19/2009 @ 7:58am
*Unless you live in NE Tacoma, but that's the only neighborhood I can think of inside the city limits where buses would be widely necessary.

by jenyum on 8/19/2009 @ 8:03am
But you don't wish to use the bus, you are just trying to make some kind of point.

It would cost more money to transport all of the kids on the bus, and you know that. What exactly is your point?

People who don't have children still have to pay for the schools. People who don't have cars still end up paying for roads.

You suggest getting rid of the buses altogether, I explain why we want can't do that, you say it's unfair that everyone can't use the buses, and you'd also be the first person to scream if asked to pay for that option. I'm tired of this conversation.

by fredo on 8/19/2009 @ 9:00am
I think I've made my point clearly.

If we're going to have a bus system which provides transportation BEYOND that required by special ed and No Child Left Children legislation, then the availability of such services should be OFFERED to all the parents of students who might wish to use the services.

Footnote: Jen I noticed that everytime you disagree with my position you accuse me of "screaming." I'm not screaming, I just refuse to allow the thread to drift.

by jenyum on 8/19/2009 @ 9:24am
Right well, that offer would have to have funding to come with it. Which (let me go out on a limb here) you would oppose. So again I'm asking you, what is your point?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/19/2009 @ 9:59am
Beware the terrible simplifiers.
Jacob Burckhardt

by fredo on 8/19/2009 @ 10:01am
This is a policy discussion. I doubt if a lot of extra parents living within a mile of the school would even elect to sign up for bus service. But the option should be theirs. I can't imagine that much additional funding would be required. The buses drive right through the redlined neighborhood on their way to school. All they have to do is stop and open the door. But the cost is irrelevant to this discussion.

Here's a hypothetical to help illustrate the current situation.

Alesha lives with her family 5270 feet from her school. She walks to school every day even in heavy rain. Her parents might wish that a school bus was available but find out after visiting the Tacoma School District website that such service is not available

Right next door is Alesha's best friend, Candy. Candy rides the bus everyday and is delivered fresh and dry to school even in the worst weather. Candy's parents live 5290 feet from the school and demand the taxpayer funded bus service.

Fact situation...nearly identical.

Benefit provision...not identical

by jenyum on 8/19/2009 @ 10:13am
The cost is not irrelevant to the discussion.

The discussion is irrelevant if we're not going to talk about the cost.

In the real world Alesha's parents would talk to the principal and probably get a waiver. But we're not talking about the real world where things cost money and drivers have to be paid and the time it takes to pick up the kids would double or triple, so there's no point in having this conversation with you.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/19/2009 @ 10:21am
Next fredo will want a nurse stationed in every school so there could be regular cooties checks.

by fredo on 8/19/2009 @ 9:54pm
If school principals have the ability to give transportation waivers to students living less than 1 mile from the school why isn't that information in the District FAQs?

And if the costs of providing such service is not possible under the current budget (as Jen has claimed) then why would the principal be given such latitude?

Crenshaw@

If cootie checking enhances student achievement and can be adminstered in a way that recognizes that every student has an opportunity to be cootie checked, I'm all for it.

by Thorax O'Tool on 8/19/2009 @ 10:23pm
Just tweak the rules to encourage walking. Every mile walked to school counts as a PE credit.

Saves $ on buses and PE staff, gets Junior to drop some of that extra 100 lbs he's been carrying since the 7th grade... Everybody wins.

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/19/2009 @ 11:04pm
The reason the buses can't pick up any kids within a mile of a school is because the last mile of travel time must be uninterrupted so the kids can concentrate on wiping a moist towelette over their face to remove Twinkie and Ho Ho and Sausage Biscuit crumbs.

by Thorax O'Tool on 8/19/2009 @ 11:12pm
And we wonder why Junior is 5' 6" x 5' 6"

by fredo on 8/20/2009 @ 8:26am
Kids walk so Charlie Milligan can afford a chauffeur.

by tacoma1 on 8/20/2009 @ 8:28am
Weird,
But I agree with Thorax O'Tool. Miles for PE credits is a great idea.

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/20/2009 @ 9:27am
Man, if I got a PE credit for every mile I walked to school I would've graduated with a PhD.


by fredo on 11/10/2009 @ 12:41pm
A few days ago a 7 year old student was walking home from her elementary school in Orange Park, Florida. She never arrived home and her body was subsequently discovered in a nearby landfill.

How does this relate to the discussion you may ask? The student wasn't allowed to ride the school bus because her residence wasn't far enough from her school.

All students need to be treated equally.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/10/2009 @ 12:56pm
Probably more kids are killed in school bus accidents each year than are murdered because they were walking to school because the district would not provide transportation due to the distance. It is absolutely tragic what happened to this child but to use this incident as a reason to require all students to be bused to school regardless of the distance they have to travel is absurd. How many students are murdered in their own homes, what are we to do about that? A good many students don't get enough to eat each day, what are we to do about that? A good many students are homeless, what are we to do about that?

by seejane on 11/10/2009 @ 2:09pm
Two things:

1. how would we pay for this extra bus service?
2. what happens after a child is kidnapped from the bus stop?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/10/2009 @ 2:38pm
This is really another of fredo's "hypotheticals" that are designed to make you think you are taxed too much and the taxes are not utilized in a fair manner. He comes up with these things from time to time. fredo is a smart guy but the path he is going down is nothing but a dead end. I would agree with him there is a lot of waste in the government's handling of our taxes. I'll agree there is abuse and even fraud. I'd like to see more accountability, to be sure. I'd even be up for even more taxes so long as I know the money is being wisely spent by those in charge of spending it.

by Thorax O'Tool on 11/10/2009 @ 5:36pm
There is only One True Solution:

Raise the tax rate to 100% on all employed persons except for government officials and the plutocracy.
This will give the government at least $7 trillion more revenue per year.

Lock everyone in their homes, and have the Fuzz expand their ranks by 15,000%. Then the cops can patrol all streets constantly with megaphones blasting out our eardrums, telling us that we're safe.
All food will be government approved varieties in government approved quantities, and will be delivered by the government from a remote, undisclosed location in a government distribution network to your home through a complicated system of government-installed pneumatic tubes. All schooling will be provided by the government on very large two-way TVs provided by the government. All curricula will be government approved, and differing opinions will be regarded as a terrorist act. All television and internet access will also be provided by the government on these two-way TVs, to ensure you and your kids are protected from pornography, uncomfortable topics, independent critical thought and good music. All conversations and reading material will be monitored by the government on the two-way TVs, to ensure your protection from radical ideas and exposure to possible terrorist acts and ideas. All religions will have to use government approved religious texts and doctrine, to protect you from uncomfortable or illogical beliefs. The government will fund the complete eradication of terrorist religions, including: Islam, Baha'i, Catholicism, Lutheranism, Taoism, Judaism, and or any religion requiring the belief in a being more powerful than The State.
Everything you could ever want or need will be provided to you, at no cost, in your personal home... which will also be built, furnished, powered and provided to you at no cost by the government via government approved manufacturers, builders, vendors and contractors.

Anyone seen out-of-doors without a government hall pass will be immediately regarded as a terrorist (after all, what red-blooded American Patriot would want to leave their nice, comfy houses?) and will be shot on sight, execution style. What is left of their bullet-riddled corpse will be then broadcast on government TV and internet to make an example of and to discourage other sleeper cells of wanton terrorists.

by seejane on 11/10/2009 @ 6:06pm
I will be NO crimethinker.

by fredo on 11/10/2009 @ 11:20pm
This discussion isn't one of my "hypotheticals." This is reality for parents in the Tacoma School District. I'm asking people to look at one policy of the district. The policy is the one which denies equal access to the bus system for some students.

I would suggest that if the district is going to provide a bus system for the convenience of some parents, then all parents must be given the option of participating. Crenshaw I would not "require" all students ride the bus, just that every child be given an equal opportunity to ride the bus.

Crenshaw, you've thrown a lot of red herrings into the discussion. This is not about homelessness, lunch programs, school bus accidents or any of that. Also it's not about what happens between the child's house and the bus stop. It's all about the equitable distribution of government services.

How to pay for it. Seejane you're always such a practical thinker. I would reduce salaries of all district employees and use that to pay for the extra bus services that may be required. However, I doubt that there would be much extra cost.

To those people who want to force children to walk when their parents want them to ride the bus, why do you hate children?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/11/2009 @ 12:24am
Maybe the district is saving money by not having to build so many schools. Perhaps providing bus service for those too far away to walk to school saves the district money.

Many government services are on an "as needed" basis. Maybe you like using the library and you check out a lot of books each month, your taxes are the same as your neighbor who may not be able to read or desire to use the library's services.

Maybe a fire station has a shinier red fire truck than the one that serves your neighborhood live where you live, you are not going to get that shiny new fire truck to come to your house. It is there to serve other people.

You pay for parks you may never use, convention centers you may never use. You even pay for fire fighting boats even though you live inland. Government works that way.

No one is stopping a parent that want's to provide a ride to school for their kid. I, for one, would like to see fewer school buses on the road. Some school children do get free lunches based on need. Some kids pay for their lunches, or at least their parents do.

The school district is a pretty big bureaucracy. I'm pretty sure they don't really care if fredo is unhappy about how some student live far from school and are offered transportation at district expense.

by Thorax O'Tool on 11/11/2009 @ 1:25am
Problem is, Life isn't fair.

Yes, we should do what we can within reason. It is reasonable to put bus stops in as many "convenient" locations as possible. It is not reasonable, time efficient nor fiscally possible to provide door-to-door service for every kid. The bus is available to all kids, some will have the good fortune of living in front of the stop, some will be 2 miles away. Bus drivers, buses and diesel fuel are expensive, how would the district pay for additional buses being on the road at earlier times to be able to get all the kids to school on time? Only way would be a massive raise in taxes. Good luck with that in an economy where 22% of people are unemployed and underemployed.

This inability to understand that not everyone can receive all benefits from the government is exactly why Tacoma is broke, Pierce County is broke, the State of Washington is broke and why the United States is broke. There just isn't the funds (or ability) to provide everything to every one.

by fredo on 11/11/2009 @ 1:30am
Crenshaw you aren't catching the distinction.

Convention centers, libraries, fire stations, parks are available to everyone. No one is denied the use of these services. I am providing an example of a service, a utility if you will, which is being denied to a group of Tacoma residents as a matter of policy. Bus service is not distributed on a an "as needed" basis. There is no consideration of parent or student needs.

The district is certainly free to be responsive to complaints or not. And the district voters are free to be responsive to levy requests or not.

by fredo on 11/11/2009 @ 8:25am
Thorax, you seem to be catching a bad case of crenshawnian strawmanosis.

by Mofo from the Hood on 11/11/2009 @ 10:45am
The responsibility of raising a child includes lifelong education of the child, preferably by learned parents.

Many parents give that responsibilty to government.

This issue of transportation is another example of parents giving a familial responsibilty to government.

The initial question is this:
Is there any evidence that government has devalued the sanctity and dignity of children? What about familial relations?

The inherent value of child and its potential role for society should be understood as an absolute value. It should be understood that the inherent value of a child to sustain society is a settled matter.

These things are not understood by people who rely on government to redefine what a child is, to redefine the nature and role of a man and a woman, and most insidiously to redefine what a family is.

What kind of society are we trying to produce and why?



by Thorax O'Tool on 11/11/2009 @ 12:10pm
No sir, not a case of crenshawnian strawmanosis...
It's actually an acute case of common sense.

While I certainly don't think walking 5 miles is reasonable, a mile or so is no big deal... we all should be walking at least that much anyway. Maybe 60% of the population wouldn't be so overweight if we all walked at least a mile a day.

It is not the school system's fault or responsibility that some parents choose to live far or cannot afford to live in front of a stop. The schools provide education, a bus, books and oftentimes lunch (for the poor ones at least) to students.

Two things here are obvious. One is that the Government (on all levels) is broke yet wants to keep spending into oblivion. All that money borrowed from banks and other nations is not free. We're paying for our parent's and grandparent's debt, and they way we're going, our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids will be paying for our debt.
When cities, states and the nation have a debt greater than or equal to their GPD, there is a MUCH bigger problem than just little Timmy having to walk 1/2 mile to school or a bus stop. I would rather my kids walk 3 miles to school daily than for them to be saddled with stupidly high taxes and an f-ed up economy.

Secondly, so many people are refusing to take responsibility. This is probably the biggest part of the social disease that is laying waste to our country and culture.
No one wants to be responsible. If you have kids, YOU are responsible for them. Not me, not Fredo, not Mofo, not Uncle Sam... you. With the taxes we all pay, the schools provide as reasonable and comprehensive of a route as is feasible...they do that in addition to educating your bratty kids. It's your responsibility to get your kids either to school or to the bus stop. It's that easy, really. Walk little Janie the mile to the bus stop. It's good for both of you. Exercise and parent-child bonding time.

Imagine for a moment, the taxes get spiked and now the Tacoma School District can do door-to-door bus service. Huzzah! But now we'll have people complaining that they still have to get their kids up and out of bed, feed them and get the kids to the door in time. Oh the hardship! Shouldn't the schools be doing that? Isn't that what we pay taxes for? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!