What Seems To Be The Problem?

Almost everyone loves children.

It’s only logical. They’re sweet and innocent (mostly). They ensure the continuation of the species. And they are the one thing that everyone, regardless of political party, moral leanings, or religious beliefs, can agree is vitally important. Everyone wants to keep children safe. Especially the schools – or so one would think.

And yet, the Department of Education (DOE) thinks it’s appropriate to ask them to cross the intersection at Laurel Hill Boulevard and 61st Street. This intersection also features an off-ramp where vehicles disembark at high speeds from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

This whole issue is just absurd. There’s a dangerous intersection between children and the school they attend. Buses exist. Why on earth would we choose –yes, this is an active choice being made – to have children darting across a major road when there’s an obvious alternative?

Yes, there are crosswalks at the intersection in question. It even has countdown clocks. But please, for just a moment, stop. Picture yourself, as a 10-year-old. Remember how cautious you really were while crossing streets. Ever run out without looking? Ever jokingly shove a friend, only to have them fall over? Now picture 10-year-old you under the Long Island Expressway overpass.

Bad idea, right? We think so too.

The kicker is, all the DOE needs to do is tell the bus driver to let the kids climb on. Children in kindergarten through about age 8 are considered too young to walk to school, so a bus already stops in the area in question. In fact, it would not have to be rerouted by so much as an inch.

And this bus isn’t packed to the gills either. At least some of the children being forced to cross the dangerous intersection could very well be seated happily and safely on it. And yet every single parent who requested a bus for their child was told no. That’s it. Just no.

One more thing, dear DOE. No reasons were given for these denials. Here at the paper, we know that there is always a reason for everything. Therefore, if no reason was given for any refusal, there must be a reason for the lack of reasoning. If you can’t bus our kids to school, tell us why. Seems like fair logic. If you can’t do it, just tell us why. That is a whole new problem.

It’s one thing to say that children need a variance to get bused across a dangerous intersection. Fine. You’d like to consider the request on a logical, case-by-case basis, to ensure you reach the best possible solution for each child. We got it.

However, it’s another thing entirely when every single request regarding that intersection is denied. This doesn’t speak about a willingness to make things right and provide children with a safe, engaging environment in which to learn–this speaks to laziness. It speaks to a closed-door environment. And it speaks to apathy.

Yes, apathy. School should be a place where children always feel safe, where they can explore and learn in an engaging environment, and where they can grow into the kind of New Yorkers we want to see running our city ten years from now.

We know about the problem. We are well-aware of the problem. Apparently, we just can’t be bothered enough to do a damn thing about it. And that’s the real problem.


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