Let me tell you this. I can already hear the cries of “you are reading way too much into this”, but I don’t think I am. I guess you can decide.
This morning I get an email from my son’s school. It started off with:
“Due to icy road conditions and forecasts for freezing rain and icing conditions throughout the day <EDITED OUT DISTRICT NAME> Schools will be closed today, February 2, 2015. All after-school and evening activities are also cancelled.”
All right, so even though there is less than three inches of snow on the ground, and they are cancelling school, I do understand why: it’s a liability. If they do not close the schools, and a teacher or parent driving to school is involved in some sort of accident, the school could be sued. I don’t like it, but I understand it. This has become the world we live in, and that is an issue for another day. In my view, the email should have simply ended there. Had it ended there, I would have had to think of something else to write about today. It did not. The email continued:
“If you must drive, please drive carefully as the highway department has indicated that roads may be free of snow, but be covered with a sheet of ice. Thank you and have a good day.”
“If you must drive”? Just what exactly is the implication? Why add that phrase? Let’s try to analyze this.
There are several possible reasons as to why the school district may have added the “If you must drive” portion of the email. In the spirit of fairness, it may have simply been added as a courtesy. It is possible that the person/persons responsible for composing the message felt it would be polite to advise parents of the “treacherous driving conditions”. But does the district think parents don’t own televisions or radios? Does it think that parents get weather forecasts from school emails? I doubt it, so, even if it was intended as a courtesy, it wasn’t very well thought through.
It could have been a simple case of substantiating their decision to close the schools. The “highway department has indicated that roads may be free of snow, but be covered with a sheet of ice.” portion seems to be just that: a justification for closing the schools. If the local government deems the roads unsafe, then the district has no choice but to close the schools. But then why add the “if you must drive” part? It is unnecessary to establish the point that the district is closing schools not by it’s own volition, but because a higher authority, “the highway department”, says it’s unsafe to drive, and therefore it must. Why was it included then? I suspect another reason.
In my opinion, the “If you must drive” was added because the school district thinks it is well within it’s right to tell parents what to do. I believe it is a classic example of overstepping boundaries. Sadly, this is starting to become the norm in the nanny state that we have come to live in. But let’s be perfectly clear, the school district, among other things, is charged with running the schools and supervising our children while they are in school. It is not charged with advising parents on whether or not they should or should not drive. So what is the big deal you may ask? I think in and of itself, it is not a big deal. I really don’t. However, when added to all the other “little oversteps”, it is becoming a big deal.
Society is surrendering it’s liberties, little by little, piece by piece. People are letting their government make decisions for them that, traditionally, have always been left up to the individual. Why just last week, because of a “historical snowstorm” (who’s magnitude was grossly overestimated) residents of entire counties in New York were told they were not allowed to travel on the very roads their tax dollars help maintain. The government, like the school district, is treating adults like children. In essence, we are being told that “others know better than we do”, and that we should “trust those who know what they are doing”. Slowly, but surely, we are becoming an irresponsible, dependent, childlike society. I dislike the kindergarten mentality of punishing the whole class when individuals misbehave. I am an advocate of freedom with accountability. I believe that those who do wrong should be punished, not that society be asked to surrender it’s personal liberties in an attempt to prevent people from doing wrong.
This email is just a minuscule portion of a much bigger problem. Had a letter like this been sent home from school when I was growing up, parents would have complained. They would have said, “I don’t need you telling me when it’s safe to drive”, and they would have been right. Today, most parents don’t even notice the implication, let alone care or get upset over it. I think that’s part of the problem.by