Free-Range Kids

Helicopter Parents Fight Sanity, Democracy in 'Strangers in the Schools'

If voters come into a school, then they could shoot the children.


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Greendale, Wisconsin (population: 14,000) is considering a referendum that would prohibit the town from continuing its age-old practice of putting polling locations inside schools. The reasoning seems to be this: If voters come into a school, then they could shoot the children.

Yes, it's a ridiculous worry. So ridiculous, in fact, that I actually wrote a song mocking this fear. (Go here to listen to "Strangers in the Schools," set to the tune of "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra.)

But even more ridiculous than the idea that voters in schools pose some extraordinary threat to kids is what a group of Greendale parents and teachers want to do about it. Worried that the referendum might not pass if  too many non-parents get a chance to vote on it, they actually don't want the broader public to vote at all. According to Adam Tobias in The Wisconsin Reporter:

Some parents and educators who spoke at a Greendale Village Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month indicated the referendum should not be placed on the ballot because taxpaying citizens who do not have children may tip the scales.

"I think there is going to be too many non-stakeholders that would vote during that referendum," said Jason Patzfahl…"Some stakes are higher than others. I think having two of my kids in the elementary schools makes me a little bit more of a higher stakeholder."

In other words, because non-parents may be more rational about a threat that has never materialized, as far as I can tell—namely, adults in a school on Election Day harming students—they should be deprived the chance to vote.

I suppose the thinking is that only parents care whether kids live or die. What a lovely town this Greendale sounds like!