Saturday, October 01, 2005

School district discusses further consolidation

According to this from the Galesburg Register-Mail, the people who live in Warren County's Yorkwood school district seem to think that, when the time comes for their shrinking population to provide for a teensy student body, consolidating county-wide might just be the answer. The majority would join up with Monmouth-Roseville, in making a county school.

No matter what they do, they'll be putting their young'uns on buses. When you live in the boonies, school is too far away to hike it.

Busing in rural areas is pretty much mandatory for geographical and fiscal reasons, rather than political ones. It's a lot cheaper to send fifty kids on those big yella things, and a lot safer, than to expect every farmer to drive his kids to school in his big farm truck, tractor, or SUV.

With the increases in gas prices, public education out here in the dingles is going to get more costly each day. But Springfield seems to think that more money should go to the population centers. One would think, if one were raising a child in the city, the public transportation system and the density of population might make it easier to get a brat to school each day. For crying out loud, even in the small towns, you don't have to walk more than a half mile to get to the nearest school building! It's that much closer, when you're in denser populations. In my old neighborhood in Chicago, I lived a block north of one high school, six blocks east of another, and seven blocks west of a third. If you headed north, there was a private Catholic school one block away, a private, faith-based (Presbyterian, I think, but don't quote me on it) Korean school a few blocks past that, and a public high school precisely nine blocks from my front door to theirs. Even after my knee injuries, I could still manage the crutched trek to most of them. And, as a bonus, the city bus stopped at the corners next to every one of them.

Meanwhile, in the Big City, they're forcing kids to ride buses clear across town, just to give them a little exposure to "diversity". So far, the evidence doesn't seem to support the assertion that enforced busing has improved the academic performance of urban students. And, neither has it improved their health. It seems to have done more to bring problems outward than to help kids carry solutions back inward (or, maybe I'm just misreading the news on uptown & suburban gangstas).

If we're so worried about our urban kids' health (and the tendency toward obesity), why not stop forcing them onto buses to send them to goody-two-shoesland, get the neighborhoods to clean up their acts and provide real educations in the 'hood. They could walk to school, walk home, and they'd get what the experts call "the bare minimum" of exercise each day. When you start realizing that your kids are walking down those streets, it also gives you the incentive to keep them clean and well-lit, as well.

And, on the plus size of this (so to speak), they might be able to eat those Big Macs, too, with fewer repercussions... I'm thinking the fast food industry could back a program of pushing urban kids to walk home, by offering coupons for free food or drink with each set number of miles racked up on their pedometers (I seem to recall that Mickey Dee's gave some pedometers away with their new salads, last year -- or was it one of the competitors? they all smell the same as you're driving past).

I know this isn't so much, any more, on the original topic of school consolidation. But it is a serious consideration for those who seem to think that school funding is all about what goes on inside the hallowed halls. Allocating funds to run those big yellow butt-busters is, sometimes, for us hayseeds, even more challenging.

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