- Last Updated: Friday, 23 August 2013 14:57
- Written by Admin
Having turned 50 last year, I can speak with some authority on the “good old days,” because I’m now officially good and old. And in my childhood one of the really good things was having the freedom to walk and especially bike just about wherever I wanted to go. While I didn’t always want to go to school, I did always get there under my own power. Okay, not in sub-zero conditions – my parents showed pity for me on those mornings, if at no other time. I grew up in Iowa and every winter it got plenty cold, but the vast majority of the time I walked or biked to school, and everywhere else.
So I don’t need to be convinced that one of the absolutely beautiful things about neighborhood-centered schools is that they enable children to get daily exercise and experience the freedom that comes from walking and biking. Face it, no freedom comes from sitting in a tin box driven by parents or some stressed-out bus driver. And kids who grow up moving around under their own power are fairly likely to continue doing so as adults. If you wonder why childhood obesity rates are soaring, one clear reason is that fewer and fewer children are walking and biking to school.
Of course these days many children live too far from their schools to have options. A startling statistic is that approximately $20 billion is spent every year busing some 25 million children to school. If my math is correct that’s about $800 per child, or nearly $4.50 per school day (assuming a 180-day school year), money that would be better spent on education rather than transportation. Add in what’s spent by those parents who drive their children to school and we’re talking a tremendous amount of money.
Exercise, freedom and transportation savings -- just three reasons we need to work for community-centered schools. There are many others, all worth thinking about and convincing decision-makers to comprehend.
- John Kissane