NY Amish BusDo you remember the controversy over busing Amish students in New York back in January?

By a 6-0 vote, the Marathon school board has elected to offer the Amish “special busing”, which will apparently do enough to alleviate Amish concerns.  To recap the Amish side:

The Old Order Amish community in the hill towns around Marathon had sought separate busing for their children on a schedule that fit their later school days. Amish parents said they didn’t want their children influenced by non-Amish culture, and they expressed concern that their children might be bullied over differences in their distinctive dress and simple way of life.

This issue raised a number of questions–including over special treatment of the Amish, road safety (some of the Amish students live in a heavy-traffic area), and money (extra busing costs more; Amish bring a positive economic impact the area).

Mixed opinions

There were a lot of good comments on the original post on this issue.  Here are a few that I thought hit some interesting points and captured the range of views:

Roberta wrote:

First, I agree that children absolutely should not be walking on the shoulder of the road up here in the winter. Someone had better come up with a compromise.

But there’s nothing that pulls a small town apart better than telling us that you don’t want your kids mixing with our kids.

Frequent Marathon visitor Tom noted:

In the summer of 2010 I was at a barn raising and spoke with many English folks who saw the Amish folks as a plus to their community. One English couple sold their farm to two Amish brothers which had been in the man’s family for 180 years.

At first I would think that this would be hard to do. None of his family wanted to continue to farm and the sale was the only way to see the land remain a farm. Many local folks enjoy seeing barns going up instead of falling down.

Barb shared:

The Amish do have the right to raise their children as they culturally wish — their desire to end schooling with 8th grade, and being allowed to do that, illustrates their freedom. What they don’t have the right to do is require people in “the world” to pay for their wishes — which is what they are requesting with their demand/desire for separate buses.

Yes, it is all about the children — ALL of the children, not just those who think they deserve special treatment. I do not wish my child to ride the school bus, so I join the line of other “worldly parents” who do not wish their children to ride the provided bus at school drop off/pick up each day. The Amish are free to behave in the same manner, providing their own alternate transportation that adheres to their Ordnung.

And Magdalena added:

I rode a public school bus for twelve years,and I would think the Amish parents are right to want to avoid having their own children shielded from the rough and tumble, unmonitored environment.

There is also the matter of the farm hours that Amish children keep, and that working with their parents is part of their education. It suggests that the new superintendent hasn’t much experience with farm families. Perhaps the Amish will have to hire a private bus company instead.

As for formal private busing, I haven’t read anything that suggests the option was considered (or, for that matter, availability and cost of such a service), other than sympathetic English providing rides this past school year.

In any case, private bus service won’t be needed.  Amish agreed to register their two private schools with the state Education Department, meaning more government funds, helping alleviate the cost issue.

Apparently they were comfortable taking this step, creating a formal tie of sorts to the State.   I think some Amish groups wouldn’t be, though the Marathon Amish are apparently a fairly conservative community otherwise.
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