Thirty-five dollars – That is the cost for a student to park on the campus of Forest Hills Eastern. Students recently have become outraged at the latest crack down on parking permits. If one does not have the parking permit, one may walk out to the car and find a new addition of a fifty dollar ticket, blowing in the breeze, and awaiting students’ arrival while perched atop the windshield. Realistically, anyone who has been pulled over by a cop understands that tickets are not fun, and this is no different. Not to mention the fact that many parents are most likely not pleased when their child comes home asking for fifty dollars to pay a school-issued parking ticket.
After listening to all the scrutiny surrounding these tickets and fees, I began to research and found myself talking to the middleman of the operation: Mr. Starling. I asked the burning questions that fill students’ minds.
My first question was simply, why now? Parking permits have been around since the beginning of this school, but all of a sudden, students have begun getting tickets. Mr. Starling replied, “To be 100% honest with you, it is probably my fault, I really thought that I had more kids on the ‘Honor System’ than those who are actually being honorable about it right now.” Starling mentioned that the issue arose when teachers began reporting that students began making bets to see how long they could go, without being caught. This challenge was not the only flaw in his “honor system,” complaints began flowing in from parents. Parents were upset with the inconsistency with the parking permit system, hearing that many students had not paid for a permit, while they felt compelled to pay the thirty-five dollars at the beginning of the year. When asking Mr.Starling where the money goes, he listed a few examples: “fixing the parking lot, potholes, the parking permit materials themselves, the warning stickers, or even when we give you, students, ice cream socials after testing.” Students do love ice cream, but does that mean they should pay to park at a public school?
Public school in general is based off of the foundation of providing free education, so I asked, if a public school means free education, what else should be free? Starling then brought up an interesting point, “ Well, I think one thing that is commonly misconstrued is we have a lot more leisure here, or we’re more privileged because a lot of kids have the option to drive to school, be dropped off by family, or to ride the bus. You ride the bus, you don’t have to pay for a parking permit.”
Is parking a privilege? In a way yes, FHE provides a leisurely, yet educational environment. However, there are the select few at our school who do not own a Jeep and cannot afford Vera Bradley lunch boxes, let alone a parking pass. What about the students who can’t afford a pass? Don’t worry, “there are always scholarship opportunities, or simply communicate with me.” Starling is not here to make student lives miserable, but he is here to keep students safe.
On the topic of safety, if parking is a privilege, it can most definitely be taken away. Some of the ways to revoke a pass include: “reckless driving in the parking lot, illegally parking on the curb or in fire lanes, or even being late to school too often.” Looking into the parking lot at FHE, one probably won’t see a lot of “curbside parking,” but our students could definitely take a class on punctuality! Worst case scenario, don’t pay for a parking permit, don’t pay the fifty dollar fine, and the car receives a super-cute, trendy yellow boot, to embellish the exterior and really that make Jeep “pop.”