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your kids are fat, lazy republicans

Here's something for you to chew on and discuss while I make my monthly warehouse shopping venture. How is that the topic of kids walking/not walking to school turns into a comment section filled with right-bashing and the usual SUV insults? News flash: People were afraid for their children's safety long before Bush got into office. People drove their kids to school before SUVs were even invented. I don't get the "must be a GOP thing" that's going on in the comments. Do only Republicans drive their children to school? Do only children of Democrats walk instead of getting a ride or taking a bus? I had no idea that this was a political issue. Kevin Drum's readers sure opened my eyes. My kids are not" coddled, over-protected, center-of-the-universe children." When you combine the bad weather, school buses that run on erratic schedules, two ton backpacks, sex offenders living in the neighborhood and the plain of fear of something happening, driving the kids wins out every day. You think the fear-factor of your kids getting kidnapped is just some media invention and we should ignore it? I bet Carlie Bruscia's parents thought it could never happen to them, either.


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We drive and pick up our kids from school to prevent incidents like the one last week involving the 11 year old girl. I also encourage my kids to scream at the top of their lungs if anyone ever grabs them. Not a right or left issue, it's an issue of your kids safty.

Well, this Democrat's kids are coddled, over-protected, center-of-the-universe children. Don't like it? Bite me.

I've done all three: walked/biked, rode the bus, and driven/been driven. When I was in middle school my grandparents refused to allow me to walk to school because I had to cross a major road to get there. Getting a ride to school is much nicer than standing in the cold waiting for a bus, or trudging through snow and ice at 7:30am.

My Republican parents had me ride the bus as a senior in high school because they didn't believe buying me a car was a "must". And I spent all my money on beer. How Republican does that sound?

That's not really fair to Kevin's readers.

You had a few comments in regards to Bush but some were corrected. You have a few more with snarky references to SUVs but all in all most of the discussion related to suburban planning + fear of crime against children with textbook and sitance factored in. It's not like DU or something where every comment would relate around the republican conspiracy.

Seems to me that those comments that bashed the GOP and SUVs are a variant on a line of attack I remember from the resurrection of law and order social conservatism in the late 70's and early 80's. Back then, the liberal attack was, basically, "You don't just want safe streets - you're really a racist!"

Now, it seems to be, "You don't just want to look out for your children - you're really an oil-guzzling, planet-destroying, status-chasing, media-spooked stooge of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!"

Wordier, but the same principle - certain kinds of liberals can't stand the notion that people would put practical consideration of their family's safety and comfort ahead of abstract social ideals. (Think I'm making this up? I once had someone suggest that I should not have had three children because I drive an SUV to carry them all.)

You think the fear-factor of your kids getting kidnapped is just some media invention...?

The fear of your kids getting kidnapped by a stranger is. According to all the numbers I've seen, the large majority of child abductions are committed by non-custodial parents. Take those out, and you're looking at around 100 kidnappings per year.

The media loves to put up those pictures of little blonde girls (apparently, only little blonde girls get kidnapped). They do that once or twice a month, and people think there's an epidemic.

"The fear of your kids getting kidnapped by a stranger is. According to all the numbers I've seen, the large majority of child abductions are committed by non-custodial parents. Take those out, and you're looking at around 100 kidnappings per year.

The media loves to put up those pictures of little blonde girls (apparently, only little blonde girls get kidnapped). They do that once or twice a month, and people think there's an epidemic."

Only 100 a year? That's about a 1-in-500,000 chance of being kidnapped. There are people who die of diseases less likely than that. Your odds of being hit by lightning are considerably less than that. Do you fly kites in a thunderstorm?

And what do you think the numbers would be like if it were not for parents less cavalier then you, who take precautions to protect their children?

I think the fear of your kids being kidnapped is only one of a host of issues. There is also the fear of your kid being beaten up, physically harassed, robbed or raped. While the chances of abduction are small, the chances of those other events occurring are significantly higher, and the results still undesirable.

I agree Bryan, and those were all on our list when we decided we wouldn't make our kids deal with it.

Administrators are particularly unwilling to take on violence instigated by female students. So I'm unwilling to make my daughters deal with it.

I think the biggest thing is the #$%& backpacks! These teachers forget that they should be doing the teaching in elementary school, not sending the kids home with 10 lbs of books a day. Got a 2nd grader that does an hour of homework a day, pure madness.

We need to do what China is doing -


A program that equips students with a PDA so that all fo there books are electronic, they can electronically do their homework and prepares them from 3-4 grade forward to deal in an electronic world. No more 30 pound back packs.

In this country we are setting ourselves up to have a giant failure of the working and management classes start being unable to compete in the next 10 years. That is only where the erosion starts - it will continue at an aggrevated pace for 2 years + however long this country doesn't move into the 21st century.

The clock is ticking - no child left behind? This is an example on how to do that for only $300 or so per student and toss the courseware out to the public to create, sparking the next tech revolution, and lighting a fire under the economy that focuses programming and writing skills to be high dollar earners.

I hear Mandarin is really hard to learn, but if you have a child that hasn't started school yet, that might be something you want to consider. Look at the pendelum swing - right now the country that has the most people that speak English on the planet is China - how big is the change going to be if speaking Chinese becomes the dominate language for international communication?

Head, well intentioned, I think. But most Chinese children do not advance to what we call high school level education...not yet. They are pulled into the labor pool (like young Americans a century ago).

It's changing, but slowly.

As far as Mandarin...no Asian language is going to take over the world of commerce. They are too damned hard to learn. 60,000 characters, 40,000 in your typical publication...you don't learn it as a child you are never going to learn it.

I've worked with Asians and been a part of that world off and on for 10 years. They are brilliant, and they work hard, and that is their strength. They are terrific consumers, and they are growing out of poverty, and that is our strength. We work toward a nice symbiotic relationship like we have been, and both cultures benefit.

Dave's right - Mandarin is a) very difficult for a lot of westerners (or others attempting to learn it after the language formative years of early childhood) to learn (no verb conjugations, but meaning depends on one of four tones of pronunciation plus sentence order, and practically each syllable is a seperate word, although there are hundreds of combinations with specific, non-intuitive meanings) and b) can sometimes be very, very non-specific, depending more on understood subject and situations. Real bitch to write binding business and legal docs that go back and forth well.

After a year of 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, I was marginally proficient in speaking, but that time didn't include much study of written characters - only about 600 were introduced. That's about enough to get most of the headlines from a newspaper (with a dictionary), and tell when and where the paper was published. The only other succesful application of my character reading skills was to let someone know they had a mirror transparency displayed backwards.

The digital age has been a real boon to Chinese language publishing - manual/mechanical character typset machines were huge, and very slow and difficult to operate, as well as horrendously expensive. Asian font sets and encoding has alleviated a lot of that, but, as mentioned, the mass consumption market is unlikely to flourish outside China.

Oddly, however, English (and Russian) are the two toughest languages for non-native speakers to master. Some would say the native speakers aren't faring too well, either.

Heading sort of back towards topic, speaking of Drum's place, and his commentors, for a real hoot go check out his post from the 8th about locating one of Bush's service record documents. If you've ever wondered what a transcript of the conversation of a bunch of dogs watching television would look like, it's that comments thread. Those people have no clue whatsoever about what they're looking at, but the theories and speculation are at a fever pitch.

For now I'll just say that they don't have nearly what they think they've got...but it sure is funny to watch them go!

My ex and I are on opposite sides of the political fence and have regularly cancelled out each others' votes. But we agree on most matters relating to our four kids, ages 9-16. Our oldest son, the 16-year-old, bikes about 1-1/2 mile to school; the others, we either drive or, if they ride the bus, we meet as they're stepping off the bus. Always, no exceptions.

I drive my son to high school everyday. I started it when it was -10degrees outside. I learned that he would talk on the way. I don't do it for safety. I don't do it for coddling. I do it because anything that gets my teenager to talk to me is a good thing.

In a word- Go.

Keep up the good work. Great blog.

Kevin's usually pretty reasonable, but some of his regular commenters are way out there. Those comment boards can turn into a pretty rough neighborhood; I wouldn't let my kids play there . . .

You want a great reason to keep your kids off of the busses? I've got two. The first one is here: Town policy is to drop off kindergartners whether there's somebody to meet them or not.

The other is real life. My nephew (then 5, like the little girl in the other story) was put on the wrong bus. It was over three hours before the school located him. None of my brother's kids ever set foot on a bus again. Mine sure aren't.

One more reason is practicality. The school is about 5 minutes (driving) from our house. The bus ride to school will be around 45 minutes. The bus ride back will be over half an hour. I'd rather have my kids sleep another 45 minutes in the morning and use that half hour in the afternoon for homework. It's bad enough that I'm stuck in traffic for an hour and a half a day, I don't want my kids wasting time that they don't have to.

the only time i ever rode a bus was with the YMCA in the summer time. i could have ridden it to school, but it cost more and my mom couldn't afford it. We had some good conversations in the mornings, and that, i think, is reason enough to drive your kids to school. I also carpooled with other kids in the apt complex, and later, in high school, i rode home on the RTD (now MTA, i guess, the public bus system in LA). That could have been yucky, i guess, but with 14 other squealing teenaged girls on the bus i don't think anyone who tried to take one of us would have gotten very far.

Things changed for kids with Jenny Cho. That was when i was in 7th grade. The first missing child i remember being all over the news for months. I think the 80s had a lot of things happen that affect everything we do, now.

Yes, the chance of kidnapping by a stranger is very small, but if it happens to you it is 100%. I know: I was kidnapped and molested by a stranger with a knife and gun (and a build like a linebacker) 50 ft. from my house 30+ years ago when I was 11 and "things were different". I soon realized that I made the first terrible mistake: I got into his car. I still don't know why he let me go, but he obviously did.

Now that I have 3 kids I make sure they know the story appropriate to their ages, and we give them more rides than I ever got, but we try not to suffocate them, easing off the constant watching as they get older. Instead we teach them what to do in specific circumstances, using my tale as a reality check. I think that's the best we can do, the rest is out of our hands. But not preparing your kids out of concern for unnecessarily scaring them is, in my view, negligent.

Personally, I think that if I had kids right now, and a choice in the matter, I'd go for homeschooling; not out of fear, but out of certainty that I could do a better job.

The curricula are so bare-bones brain-dead these days that a trained chimp could sign it.

And it's getting more so thanks to the giant unfunded mandate of No Child Left Behind, or as I like to refer to it, "Let's All Just Stop Here."

Anyway, yes, I would walk or drive my kids to school; I'd prefer to be close enough to walk on most days. Not to prevent horrors and nightmares as to have that guarenteed time every weekday.

And yes, I have done it. :)

I drag my grumpy ass out of bed every weekday morning, shuffle the kids into my little Honda Element (it wants to be an SUV, but it's just too small) and drive them to school--a hellaciously expensive private school out in the middle of farmland, because our neighborhood school, to which I could walk them (or they could walk themselves, were I not "overprotective" and "paranoid") is beyond pathetic.

And then I pick them up at 3 p.m. If I can't be there to get them, a reliable friend or relative steps in for me.

I spent two years as a crime reporter in Los Angeles, and another two as a crime reporter in a small town in Virginia. Yeah, you can never be sure--but you can bust your ass and do everything in your power to keep them alive and keep them safe until they are big enough and strong enough and have enough of a foundation and good judgment to keep themselves safe.

Isn't that what parenting is?

Kudos to you, Mich. I enjoy your site.