There was lots of school news this week. Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner unveiled a plan he insists would add $1 billion to the state education budget without raising taxes, and a far-fetched claim like that from a man who supports ideas to privatize public education would certainly deserve an editorial, but there’s something more important going on.
A Commonwealth Court rightly dismissed an inane claim by Republican leaders in the state legislature, allowing what could be monumental lawsuit about adequate state funding for public schools to go to trial. With Wilkes-Barre Area School District and local parent Tracey Hughes among those behind the suit, this new development would be well worth some space here. But there’s a bigger issue to tackle.
On the national stage, The New York Times reported that U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos apparently thinks using federal dollars to purchase guns for teachers is a good idea. The plan would use money from the “Student Support and Academic Enrichment” grant program — intended to help students in the nation’s poorest schools. Such a move would skirt an explicit ban on using federal funds for guns written into a school safety bill passed in March. The grant program does not fall under that law
So much fodder for an education editorial, yet one thing tops all these topics: School starts in most Luzerne County Districts tomorrow.
That means busloads and carloads of students. It means thousands of students standing by the road waiting to be picked up, or walking across intersections on their way to school and back. It means children on the way to or from school and school-related activities at all hours of the day, from early morning until past twilight.
Common sense and common courtesy are all it takes, yet in the age of smart phones, social media obsession and endless texting, both are in short supply on our roads. Put away the phone, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Some basic tips from the National Safety Council:
• Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians onto the road.
• Stop and yield to pedestrians crossing intersection. Stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard.
• Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
• Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way. Pedestrians always have the right of way.
• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
• Never pass a school bus stopped to load or unload children. In fact, unless you’re on a divided highway, you can’t pass in either direction when the lights are flashing. Children are just too unpredictable when getting off a bus. The 10-foot area around a school bus is the most dangerous for children.
Every driver of every vehicle on the road has a critical responsibility to drive like a child’s life depends on it, because it does.
– Times Leader