Guest post from Matthew Goebel. I'm looking for guest bloggers - if you have any opinions or experiences regarding education to share, please let me know!
I live and work in the Bay Area of California. I have a ten year-old daughter who lives with her mother in Kentucky where I grew up. Recently I had the privilege of taking my daughter to and picking her up from her elementary school in Waco, Kentucky. Waco is a very small town outside of Richmond, Kentucky, which isn’t a large town either. Most of the area is rural. Richmond has Eastern Kentucky University which doubles the population of the town when it’s in session.
As I think back to when I was in elementary school I am shocked at how trusted I was to get to school, come home and do homework. My mom and dad sent me off in the morning, rain, snow or shine to walk the 7-8 blocks to the school. No questions asked, we were allowed onto school property and into the school. Classes started at 8 A.M. and we were out of school by 3 P.M. The same hike home and we’d do our homework then play the day away. The silly thing is, we-meaning myself, my brothers and ALL of our friends did this very thing. Five days a week, from mid August to the last week of May.
The week before Thanksgiving week this year, I was staying at my parents’ house with my daughter. Mom and Dad live a good 15 miles away from my daughter’s school, so there would be no walking to school for her. (Her mother lives about the same distance in the opposite direction.) Parents can choose to send their child to any of the public schools in Madison County. If a child is going to a school outside the bussing district for that school it is up to the parent to deliver and pick up the child or get the child to a bus stop within the bussing district for that school. My ex does just that, she drives my daughter daily to a bus stop inside the bussing district for Waco Elementary and then waits for the bus to arrive. Then she picks her up from the same spot in the afternoon.
If you don’t want to do that, then you must be to the school by a certain time before class starts so you can “check in” your child. What this means is at 7:20 A.M. I was in line (only of about 20 cars) with other parents waiting for the front doors to open so that I could let the school officials see my daughter get out of my car and enter the school. There was a woman at the doors checking that every parent matched the child. The car at the front of the line would let their child out after getting the confirmation from the school official that they had seen you and your child. Then the next car in line would pull up to the front doors and repeat the process.
We didn’t have to be in that early if we really didn’t want to be. We could have shown up at 7:40 A.M. and she could have gone straight to class instead of having a school provided breakfast of cereal and milk, a piece of fruit and maybe some OJ.
Before I was even allowed to drop my daughter off at school I had to go after school was out to meet the principle, her teacher and the school officials who would be at the entrance to the school confirming my presence and there for taking custody and responsibility of my daughter. I also had to have someone other than my daughter (and preferably someone they knew) say to them-Yes that’s her father.
The afternoon pick up was much the same. I got into line at 2:45 P.M. and waited until 3 for the doors to open. Then all the children who were being picked up came out and waited for their parent to pull up so they could get in the car. Once again, it was after visual I.D. that the child was even allowed to approach the car. It is amazing how unrelaxed we are after twenty years.