Student discipline on board the school bus is one of the many challenges facing student transporters on a daily basis. It makes me wonder sometimes if parents truly know those same issues.
Schools have their jobs to do, and many of these tasks include transporting students to and from school. But certainly the responsibility of parents for their kids doesn't end at the front door with a kiss on the cheek and a "Have a nice day!"
For every school bus incident that makes the national TV news networks, like the student "fight" that occurred last fall on a Belleville, Ill., bus, there are likely at least several hundred more a day across America that aren't caught on video camera. It can certainly seem like children these days are more violent and daring. Perhaps we can chalk it up to the violence and sexual nature of the TV shows, movies and video games that have inundated our society.
Or, maybe I'm becoming more pessimistic as I get older.
But I also don't actually work with students everyday. I don't have children. Along with most others who live in the land of the 30-second sound bite, I'm not responsible for educating children or ensuring their safety on the ride from home to school and back or making sure they have clothes to wear, a lunch to eat and a roof under which to sleep. For all of those troublemakers that might be out there, I also rarely see the majority of children who are sweet, good-natured and helpful, those kids who make a teacher's, a school bus driver's, a parent's day all worthwhile.
I'm also in the unique position of being one of those relatively few laypersons to realize the true challenges faced each day by transportation staff. "People Are People," a song of my youth espoused, and, like with students, one bad apple in the school bus driver lounge can spoil the entire bunch. But, just look at the school bus safety record and it's obvious to me that the vast majority of drivers are performing in an exemplary fashion. Yes, we still have too many drivers who might look the other way or not be paying the correct amount of attention to, say, students bringing weapons onto the bus, But, like with most professions one is intimate with, I know there can often be another side to each and every news story.
Whether kids ride the school bus, the transit bus, hitch a ride with their folks, drive themselves, walk, ride a bike, or skateboard, student transportation should be a partnership between the school, the student and the parent. I'd like to see a contract signed, so that parents know full well what the school is responsible for and what the child's family is expected to do. If a school screws up, which obviously can and does happen, then we know. But, ultimately, no matter the safety and behavior management training given to school bus drivers, parents must also take responsibility for their children.To me it seems the right, sensible thing to do.
But, maybe I'm also a bit naive.