Talk about your paradigm shifts, Newton Public Schools Superintendent David Fleischmann has announced, in a letter to elementary school parents, that it will be system-wide policy to no longer allow parents to accompany children into school at drop-off*. Details to come**, but this is huge.
When parents are not allowed in the building, all sorts of good flows. Parents have no reason to park or idle any longer than the time it takes to kick the darlings out of the car. When they can’t accompany the children inside, maybe parents will decide to drop them down the street, relieving the knot of traffic right in front of the school. When families realize that walking a little to school is good, maybe they decide to walk a little farther. It’s the beginning of a very virtuous cycle.
Newton knows this works because it has been the policy at Carr (for Angier and now Zervas refugees) and at the re-opened Angier. Now, the policy and benefits will spread system-wide. Importantly, one of the factors cited for the new policy is to “Foster student independence.” Having students get themselves in(to) the school on their own is developmentally appropriate.
For those of us who have been advocating for a system-wide stop-drop-and-roll-(on) policy for over a decade, this is very satisfying. It is an important recognition that the school policies drive driving behavior and that leaving it to school-by-school decision-making is not going to create the change required.
* Forgive the awkward construction. NPS hasn’t framed it as no-parents-allowed, though that’s the effect.
** Undoubtedly, there will be exceptions for appropriate cases.