Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School

"Less than 15 percent of all schoolchildren walk or ride bicycles to school," notes Charles Euchner (a frequent contributor to CommonWealth) in a fascinating Hartford Courant column. The main reason is the trend toward fewer but larger ("super-sized") schools, many of them sited far from residential areas. (Kids make too much noise, so why not put them in town’s warehouse district?) But Euchner points out some of the drawbacks of this phenomenon — not only the lack of exercise for kids who have to be driven to school, but also the fact that "gigantism requires extra layers of bureaucracy, which puts distance between educators and students."

I can think of another benefit of schools that are within walking distance of most students rather than a long bus ride away: They can start classes later and allow kids some to sleep in a little later, a need that Po Bronson explores in New York magazine.