Lileks has hit the nail on the head today regarding the need for schools to be viewed as part of the local community. I share a similar upbringing to him:
I actually lived adjacent to my elementary school and could look out my bedroom window to see who was playing in the schoolyard. We would go home for lunch and watch Jeopardy with Art Fleming. I'll take Childhood Memories for $10, Art. (Chump change nowadays but that's what they played for in the 60's.)
I grew up five blocks from my elementary school, and it bonded me to the neighborhood in a way most people of my generation understand - at least those who grew up in smaller cities. Its not crucial, but its nice. Theres something about walking home on a spring day or, for that matter, one of those wonderful autumn afternoons where it's damp and misty and somehow very private, as though your only friend in the world is the world itself, the hidden mysterious world that revealed itself at times like this. Its an integral part of childhood, at least as it was defined for me. I used to come home for lunch, too; is that even an option anymore? I came home to soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, Noonday on the B&W TV. No cartoons on that show. No hope of cartoons. Farm reports and LBJ; a dog from the pound if you were lucky. Then back to school.