by Tom Finkel
About the blogger: I lived and worked in St. Louis for 18 years then, suddenly, moved to Charlottesville, Va. at the end of 2005. I've kept my job in St. Louis and am still the STL Working Mom, traveling back for work and keeping my head in the 'Lou for most of the week. Charlottesville is home. This is the space where I tell tales about the boy, 16 and the girl, 10 and my furry co-worker, Clover. You'll also find random thoughts about being a working mom, working at home and traveling. There are also bits about St. Louis and Charlottesville and the transition from one to the other.
Recent Highlight (January 19): In a stunning move by the County, we've recently been notified that the elementary school will discontinue crossing guard services. The Albemarle County Police Department says that it is illegal for anyone other than a uniformed police officer to direct traffic.
I haven't been this riled up since my neighbor tried to weed my garden.
The crossing guard is a time honored icon. Where will the frame of reference for all those cold medicine and soup commercials go, if we lose our crossing guards nationwide? Who else will wear day-glo orange and assert an authoritative presence outside our neighborhood schools? We chose our home, in part, because it is close -- within walking distance -- of the elementary and middle school. This seemed like a huge plus to us. Walking is healthy! Now, though, because of the discontinuation of the crossing guards, the schools are providing bus services for all walkers, meaning the girl will now walk about seven houses down the street to catch a bus that will drive her across a street and into a parking lot. What's this all-bus policy going to do for the obesity problem? As fewer and fewer kids walk, ride bikes or scooter to school, will they become more and more sedentary?
Surely it would be more cost-effective to place an officer there as a crossing guard, instead of providing buses to the hundred or so kids that live close enough to walk to school. Surely they could deputize a few parents and teachers to be uniformed, official, legal crossing guards. Surely they don't expect my kid to take a bus one block rather than walk.
The kids themselves are apalled. Raised as little eco-sensitive creatures, the additional pollution and energy waste of an unnecessary bus route breaks their little green hearts.
I did a little research this evening (which means a friend of mine called her brother who is a cop) to find out what crime I might be charged with (hypothetically) were I to help schoolchildren cross the street come Monday, when this all goes into effect. The brother (not an Albemarle officer) said the offense would be "obstruction of traffic" and probably ticketable. If a person were to persist, then he or she could be arrested.
Time to pick out an outfit that will stop traffic for Monday.
**Update: Want your kids to be able to walk to school safely?
Contact: Del. Rob Bell 58th District 2 Boars Head Place #100 Charlottesville, VA 22903 Local Office: (434) 245-8900 Richmond Office: (804) 698-1058 E-mail: email@example.com
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