Thursday, November 30, 2006

Crowding

Each weekday morning I awake to the alarm at 5:25 a.m. After letting the dogs out and tending to a few other things, I wait for Michael to finish in the shower while sitting at the computer and playing Free Cell for a little while. I listen to the local news on the TV (radar up for traffic reports). Free Cell is a jump-start to the brain since I don't drink coffee anymore. Ok, I'm a Free Cell addict. Around 5:59 a.m., I get my cue to exit the game and start my shower. This is when a school bus drives by my house to start loading sleepy students. Is it unusual for students to be boarding a school bus at 5:59 a.m.? In my lifetime, I don't ever recall students boarding a bus before 7:00 a.m.

My drive to work should only be about 14 minutes. But because of the horrendous traffic situation in Huntersville, a northern "bedroom" county of Charlotte, it takes me at least 30 minutes to arrive at work, on a good day. There is a stretch of road, about a mile long, when I don't get out of first gear. Frustration and boredom takes over me while I wait...so, this morning I grabbed my camera.


There are too few roads in this county that's growing at an alarming rate. In the above picture, there are middle school students behind me on those buses. It was 7:10 a.m. and some of them had been riding for more than an hour.



Above, this is a picture of those same students boarding buses at 4:00 p.m. They won't be home until at least 5:00 p.m.

Along the way to my campus, I pass North Mecklenburg High School with an enrollment of 3,500 students. Next to the high school is an elementary school which houses 2,000 students. Next to the elementary school is the middle school (seen above), housing 3,000 students. Is this insane? And the majority of the roads leading to these schools are two-lane back roads without right or left hand turning lanes! Bonus: Next to the middle school, a charter school is being built to house 1,000 students. Not to mention about seven new housing developments on my way...

Those almighty test scores would be somewhat higher if the conditions for students were better...and oh, yeah, pay the teachers what they deserve! I can't say it enough!

Replace those state road engineers making six figures and let ME solve the problem for much less! Oh yes, the funding game is always political bullsh--.



Above, North Meckenburg High School (the school housing 3,500 students). More than half of the "what could be a lovely campus" is littered with these portables.

My rant is ending and I apologize for anyone who reads this...gee, I hope no one reads this... I remember the traffic in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. very well. Nothing can compare to that. People across the world in larger cities have it much worse than me and I shouldn't complain. I just had to vent today because I've been cursing under my breath about it for too long.

Comforting note: I tried to get a decent picture of a new 400-bed mental health facility being built across the street from our campus. When it's complete, it will be nice to know I can take a short walk and check in whenever I need to.





14 comments:

LauraHinNJ said...

At least your rants are funny Mary, mine just sound angry.

So are there kids from multiple towns at these schools with thousands of kids? Why bus them so far? Can't imagine that many little bodies all in one place!

My first yeat teaching was in a tiny beach town here, I taught Spanish to every kid in the school, K-8. I think there were 160 of them in the whole school. It was wonderful to be able to know students that well.

Wonder what the average class size is there?

Traffic sucks... I dream of owning a helicopter to get to work on time.

samtzmom said...

We've had the same issues here in our county for some time. We literally, until last year, had NINE elementary schools feeding into TWO middle and TWO high schools. We finally got a new middle school last year and they are building a new high school there as well. Sam used to ride the bus, which came at 6:45 for an hour. A lot to ask of a child with autism. I finally just decided to take him and so we'd get there aoo.round 7:45, which gave us all a little more sleep.

In this country, we tend to overcrowd our schools like prisons. It's no wonder kids fall between the cracks and disappear. It would be nice if we put as much effort into building schools as we do trying to build nations thousands of miles from home.

Mary said...

Laura, I couldn't find the parent-teacher ratios on the internet but with so many students it would be impossible to keep the class sizes at 25 or less. I'll bet they must be around 40. Terrible. Can you imagine almost 2,000 in an elementary school? There are definitely kids falling through the cracks. And the CMS district is supposed to be a national "model". I've often thought of winged transportation, too :)

Samtzmom - thanks for visiting my boring rant. By you taking Sam to school, I'll bet it reduced his anxiety as well as yours. No child should be on a bus for an hour or more! Your last sentence makes it true but no one "in charge" ever listens to common sense.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Laura, yours is a funny rant! We are right now in the middle of deciding on a high school for our 8th grader. There are 2 public high schools in our school district, both with 9th grade classes of 12oo kids! She will be leaving a parochial K-8 where she is one of 49 8th graders!

Mary said...

Lynne - I worked in a private high school for 15 years and some freshmen came from a class of 50 into a class of 250. Most made the adjustment very well! If she has just one friend from her 8th grade attend with her, she should be A-OK.

ruth said...

Quality education and health care can be difficult to find. Our daughters were home-schooled for 2 years (not for everyone!) and then when I returned to full time work, we put two of them in a private school. The other daughter had special needs and was served better in the public system. It is so important for parents to be involved in the school.

Susan Gets Native said...

Try this on for size:
When I graduated from high school way back in 1991, my graduating class was the largest ever at my high school.
At a total of 238 kids.

Mary said...

Susan, my focus is on the year you graduated...1991?????????? My God, I was middle-aged by then. Hmmph.

Susan Gets Native said...

What do you mean, Mary?
You're not even middle-aged NOW!

Mary said...

Susan, I was beginning to sport a mustache by then.

Anonymous said...

Mary-
You and Susan should go on the road with your comedy act! LOLOL!!

(I stopped short when I read 1991 too. Don't tell, but I graduated high school in 1975!)

Mary said...

I got you beat, Lynne. '73...

Trixie said...

Late to the party, but....

My dh teaches and for the last two years has had a portable. There are some advantages....the kids seem to cool-out with the walk from the school into the portable. And it is quieter!

Mary said...

Thanks for visiting, Trixie! When my daughter was in elementary school, she loved portables!