Seventh grader Adam Marino, of Saratoga Springs New York, is getting an early education in law and citizenship courtesy of the New York State Police and his school district. His offense? Riding a bicycle to school.
At the start of school in September, Kaddo Marino thought that she had a nonverbal agreement with school officials to allow her son to ride his bike until a new policy was resolved. But on the night before classes started, school authorities called parents to say that walking and biking to school would not be tolerated.
When the pair stuck with their plan, they were met by school administrators and a state trooper, who emphasized that biking was prohibited, Kaddo Marino said.
Although no bicycle accidents have been reported in the past three years along Saratoga Springs Route 9, it appears to be a busy street without bike lanes. And so Adam Marino will have to walk to school. Except that he can't do that either. Walking to Maple Avenue Middle School is also prohibited.
Though Adam's parents are willing to accept the risk that their son will suffer injury on a road where, apparently, bicyclists are never injured, the Saratoga Springs board of education knows better. Bicycles are dangerous! Why, every day, somewhere, a boy is injured riding his bike. Just as every day, somewhere, a boy is hit by lightning, attacked by a shark, or suffers health problems because of obesity. Will Saratoga Springs protect its children from obesity?
Why yes it will. New York Schools are so concerned about the threat that fat and overweight pose to children that Saratoga Springs classifies and marks its students through "weight status grouping" and mandatory body-mass indexing. And like every other school in the state, Maple Avenue mandates physical education and health education, though that doesn't seem to help most New York school kids, who are incorrigible fatties.
Despite the threat that his bicycle poses, to him and to society, it appears that Adam Marino is going to defy school board mandates and continue propelling himself to school rather than taking a bus. No price is too great to pay for health. And no price is too great to pay if it lets good citizens like the Marinos tell mindless bureaucrats like Maple Avenue Middle School Principal Stuart Byrne, to butt out of things that shouldn't concern them. Like whether a kid walks or rides his bike to school.
But Saratoga Springs isn't all bad. The schools do make some effort to educate their kids in good character, and recognize students who excel in their behavior. You can even nominate an outstanding student. Perhaps Adam Marino deserves a nomination.
While Adam probably wouldn't qualify during "Respect Month," as his school calls October, he'd be a fine candidate for a character award this May, which is "Citizenship Month." I can think of no better act of citizenship for a young man than civil disobedience against a foolish and intrusive nanny-state.