I certainly have something to say: I can get to work by bike in half an hour - and even in the rain I think it's better than standing in a traffic jam or a full S-Bahn.

That's why I don't have to ask myself whether I'll take my children to school by car in the future.

For other parents, however, it fits into their “mobility pattern,” as scientist Dirk Wittowsky calls it, to drop the children off at school on the way to work.

That's easier and yet also safer, right?

No, says Wittowsky, who researches parent taxis at the Institute for Mobility and Urban Planning at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Because the cars in front of the school put many other children in danger.

Parents should trust their children to have “independent mobility for conscious and health-promoting mobility development.”

This is also good for traffic education, says even the ADAC, which is not exactly known for car bashing, and advises against parent taxis.

Nevertheless, cars are queued up in front of many schools.

North Rhine-Westphalia recently published a decree so that municipalities can set up roadblocks in front of schools.

A clear example of this is a model experiment in Essen, which Wittowsky is providing scientific support for.

In the “Debate of the Week” interview, he explains why the attempt is now being extended.

How do your children get to school?

And what do you think of the roadblocks and the discussion about parent taxis?

Please feel free to write to bildung@spiegel.de 

For the education team at SPIEGEL

Kind regards, Swantje Unterberg

That's going on

1. Taboo topic Middle East

"I notice that many teachers are very uncertain about the topics of the Gaza war, the Middle East conflict, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism," says educational researcher Karim Fereidooni in an interview - and explains how and why the topic belongs in school.

Because on TikTok and Co. people talk about it every day, false reports are spread every day;

“And we leave students alone too often,” says Fereidooni.

2. Significance of censorship

Can young people automatically do outstanding math with an A in math?

Not necessarily, a new study shows.

"The results suggest that students with the same school grades have substantially different skills," write the authors - and are likely to rekindle the discussion about the meaning of the assessment.

3. Teaching at the limit

92 percent of teachers in North Rhine-Westphalia complain about overwork.

This was the result of a survey by the GEW education union among almost 24,000 teachers.

“The employees are at their limit,” interprets the GEW.

More and more work has to be shouldered by a few.

4. Protest culture in schools

NRW Schools Minister Dorothee Feller (CDU) is calling on teachers to protest with students against right-wing extremism - and is receiving support from the KMK president.

»Children and young people need role models.

“So I can only support it if teachers also set an example and take part in protests against right-wing extremism,” said Saarland Education Minister Christine Streichert-Clivot (SPD) to the dpa news agency.

According to “Neue Westfälische”, the AfD in North Rhine-Westphalia is considering legal action against Feller.

And otherwise

Reading against learning deficits: In performance comparisons, Brandenburg children and young people did not do well, especially in German.

The Ministry of Education wants to take countermeasures, reports the “Tagesspiegel” – by financing books that the children can take home.

License worth millions: In the middle of the pandemic, NRW invested 2.6 million euros in digital learning, a large part of which went into a three-year Brockhaus license.

“Many students will have then googled what Brockhaus is,” writes the portal berlinstory-news.de.

And calculates that every click in the dictionary cost the taxpayer more than 20 euros.

Number of the week

20 billion

We asked you in our previous newsletter: What would you do with 20 billion euros to substantially improve the education system in Germany?

This amount will flow into the Start Opportunities Program over the next ten years.

You wrote to us about how you think it could be used profitably:

Korinna Strobel

, mother of a seven-year-old in Berlin, is in favor of more individual support - even at schools that are not considered a "hot spot", like her daughter's: because there too she notices that "classical lessons are used at a rate of around 40 Percent children from non-German speaking households are difficult - some children simply have no chance of understanding the content.

I make myself available once a week and practice reading with the children.

But that's a drop in the ocean.

What would really help these children - some of whom are gifted - would be 1:1 coaching and intensive language lessons 3-4 times a week in very small groups.

What we can offer at the moment is simply not enough in terms of quantity to bring the children to a language level that enables real participation." She recommends "broad networks of teachers and volunteers like me, who organize themselves in such a way that we have a large number can provide individual support to children.

The school would need coordinators, rooms, materials, instructions and supervision.

As volunteers, we are dilettantes who have to be helped by professionals if something good quality is to come out of it.

Paula Molina de Rohde

, a teacher of German as a second language (DAZ) and a newcomer, also recommends more support for migrants based on her experience: In order to maintain equal opportunities, “reliable and professional afternoon homework help must be created.

Supervision could, for example, be provided by “students, coordinated by a teaching person who accompanies and encourages learning in close contact with parents.”

Carsten Wiemann

, a career changer at a high school in North Rhine-Westphalia, says: "The answer is simple: smaller classes, so that in the end there is significantly more for the individual." He would solve the problem of the lack of teachers "through more lateral and lateral entry, until the necessary young people are trained."

Christian Bauer

suggests the following five points:

  • "1.

    Abolish federalism in education policy (no money in the world would be enough for that, but I'm with make-a-wish here).

  • 2. School uniforms for all and classes are made up of high-performing and poor-performing students in a ratio of 80:20.

  • 3. Radically cut curricula by half in each subject from grades 7/8 onwards, reduce the length of lessons and offer more voluntary subjects (in which you are also assessed).

  • 4. Unfortunately, the performance principle must be retained because that's how our world works.

  • 5. More staff and more maintenance.

Since everyone only thinks of number 5 when it comes to investing in education, there will never be any structural changes and in 20 years the PISA result will be the same.«

Debate of the week

What speaks against parent taxis?

And do road closures help encourage parents and children to switch to other means of transport?

Prof. Dr.

Dirk Wittowsky, born in 1971, heads the Institute for Mobility and Urban Planning at the University of Duisburg-Essen and investigates how transport and urban structure can be organized in a socially and ecologically fair manner.

To this end, he is also evaluating a model project on a street in Essen with a primary school and a high school: the street is closed to cars during drop-off and pick-up times.


: Mr. Wittowsky, what needs to be investigated when a road is closed?


Quite a lot, because it's about how children get to school safely.

How can we design the paths so that children can travel independently?

And how can conflicts be reduced?


: What conflict was there?


: The situation in front of the school was dangerous because of the so-called parent taxis.

Up to 60 cars drove up within 20 minutes in the morning.

They stop on the sidewalk, doors open, cars pull up, with students on scooters, bicycles or on foot in between.

1,800 children and young people go to school there.


: And the blocking caused the next conflict?


No, the parents were very understanding.

If you create a consistent and well-communicated framework, it will be accepted.

Of course they have habits, but we have created alternatives: Parents can now drop their children off at three stops in the local area.

It's sometimes crowded during peak times and not everyone sticks to the guidelines.

But the problems are much smaller than before and the school environment is safe.


How are parent taxis prevented from entering Schulstrasse?


There are corresponding signs.

And committed parents who stand there three times a day and put up cones, i.e. warning cones.

At the very beginning, the traffic police were there in case someone had little understanding or was upset about the alternative stopping options.



The model project has been running since September and was intended to last a maximum of six months, but is now being extended.



: The next step is to examine what happens when the parents are no longer standing at the entrance to the street.

Are the signs enough or do we need to provide more information or even think about a barrier or a bollard?


: The project is only about the last few meters to school.

Are parents still changing their mindset so that more children come by other means of transport?


No, you can't break mobility routines that quickly.

The proportion of children brought by car has remained relatively stable at around 25 percent at primary school and 15 percent at high school; it even increased a bit due to the weather.


: Road closures alone are not enough to turn traffic around.

What do you recommend?


Of course we need safe and attractive routes to school that encourage children to walk or cycle.

And the topic belongs in the curriculum: If sustainable mobility takes place more in school, children, parents and teachers become aware of it.

We need school mobility management, i.e. a real planning process.

This also needs to be anchored much more firmly in cities.


: What specific approaches are there?


: First of all, we have to expand pedestrian and cycle paths and reduce the parking space at the school.

There are also many approaches such as a walking bus, where children go to school together.

Or an incentive system in which the class collects kilometers for active mobility and, as a reward, can organize part of the lesson themselves or watch a film.

Children need the right to have a say in the design of public spaces.

And we all need more courage to innovate and invest instead of being hesitant.

That's it for this time.

Thank you for your interest and see you next time!

If you have a topic on your mind: You can reach us at bildung@spiegel.de