Ron Isaac’s Commentary: When Public Schools Have ‘No Standing”

Jan 21, 2022 by

Small details are clues to a larger picture and even when it’s arguably petty, it still isn’t pretty.  This is illustrated by two revealing contrasts over a pair of relatively minor matters.

First: Private schools are routinely allowed to close off public streets and use them as student playgrounds during the day.  That’s fine.  All kids have a right to physical education and often there is no other space available. Nothing reasonable should be held back from kids, no matter what schools they attend. 

But even in the absence of a gymnasium or alternate facilities, public schools are never allowed to commandeer neighborhood roads.  Does that make sense?

Second: A large parochial high school located in an area of chronic traffic congestion in northeast Queens completely owns the surrounding streets for a big chunk of time every morning and afternoon. An entire lane of one of the most crowded expressways and another lane of an intersecting major street are full of parked cars, whose occupants are dropping off or picking up their kids.

This has gone on every day of every term for forty years.  Not once in all those decades has a traffic enforcement agent been spotted  on the scene. Calls must have been made to give such schools an exemption from parking restrictions.

But they are invariably hanging out ten minutes before alternate side parking regulations go into effect near many public schools and within 30 seconds of when a violation technically begins, they are ticketing staff members’  cars as fast as they can to get their quota done for the day.

This is too widespread and happens too often to be coincidence.

Let’s not begrudge private schools a bit of courtesy. But neither should the City make up for lost revenue by copping an attitude and zealously giving summonses to public school educators.

Educators, private and public, should enjoy the same tolerant, flexible parking choices as do police officers and fire fighters.

Ron Isaac

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