It's easy to spot the American at a Canadian airport - they're the ones not wearing shoes. It's true. In Canada, we don't have to do 'the shoe thing' when we go through security.
Still, Americans, used to the ritual and routine will take them off as a force of habit while the rest of us keep our Sorels on. It's funny how we become accustomed to increased security, regardless of the actual need for said security.
When my mom volunteered for school field trips as I was growing up in the dangerous 80s, she just filled out a form and showed up. Now, if you don't have a valid police check to hand in with your volunteer slip, forget it.
But we're all used to the background checks and security measures now and don't think much of it. In fact, I'm sure many of you would look sideways at a principal who didn't require background checks for volunteers, despite crime rates being at historic lows.
If I want to get into the office of my son's elementary school, I have to buzz an intercom to be let in - the school is always on lock down. The school is in a perfectly safe suburban neighborhood with tree-lined streets and manicured lawns. But something bad happened at a school hundreds or thousands of miles away and now all schools are locked.
You see, in the mornings the doors are unlocked, and I can enter a side door to visit with my son's teacher. But it feels weird. I feel like I'm breaking the law simply by entering an unlocked door of a public building because the rest of the day it is locked up like a prison.
The security is at one point tight, at another time lax. It's confusing.
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When my son was in kindergarten, the school was vigilant about having each child signed in and signed out at the beginning and end of the day. Now, he takes the bus home from his Grade 1 school. He's released from the front door to run the 30 yards to the bus line. There's a flurry of parents and pickups and what have you, but he's just let go on his own to get to the bus on time.
At the other end, we didn't have to offer a list of names of who would be allowed to pick him up. We're told the driver won't let him off unless someone is there to meet him, but we never did submit the name of our Nanny as an 'authorized' pick up person. In kindergarten, they wouldn't have let him leave with his own grandmother without prior notice.
I was caught a little off guard by the policy and had to stop myself before asking why the school was not escorting the kids to the bus and demanding a name for people to pick them up. I had become so used to paranoid security that my trust in the fact people are inherently good and our kids are safe had left me.
We get so accustomed to heightened security that common sense somehow makes us uncomfortable. And sometimes the pendulum swings far in the other direction, as it has at Aspen View Academy in Denver.
At this school, a numeric and color-coded system is used as parents parade down carpool pickup and drop off zones. Carpool Teams radio numbers of cars and students back and forth.
Nobody is allowed out of their car.
Nobody is allowed to use electronic devices.
Sometimes, an uncle with a screaming toddler in the back seat who forgot to bring snacks loses it while the rest of the robots just go along finding this routine to be normal. The simple act of picking up your kid at Aspen View Academy takes at least 30 minutes spent in an idling car slowly inching forward.
Maybe letting my kid run to the bus, his book bag dragging behind him, and no bubble wrap holding back his stride isn't such a bad thing.
What are the rules at your school for pick-up, drop-off, and access to the building? Do you have to do background checks? Do you think they're reasonable or over the top?
-By Buzz Bishop
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