Every day, the editors of School Transportation News hear from student transporters the challenges being presented to operations nationwide as a result of budget cuts. We also read accounts in local newspapers. But often missing from this analysis is how these reductions in service are affecting the most important population: students.
Cynthia Rodas, an 18-year-old graduating senior at Animo Pat Brown Charter High School in Los Angeles offers this perspective in a article published today in "Save L.A. Youth," a newspaper serving local teens. Rodas is one of nearly five dozen teens who regularly contribute to the journalism project. She writes of how fewer school buses during the past couple of years have negatively impacted her and fellow classmates.
Rodas writes that she had to take transit buses, which nearly doubled the time spent on the morning commute. She had to wake up earlier, as did student Milagros Castillo, who had to get out of bed as early as 5:43 a.m. to catch her bus. This can result in less time to do homework, as was the case for classmate Clarisa Fijar.
Rodas also said her allowance has taken a hit, as it cost her $24 every month to take public transit.
"My parents give me $5 every week for allowance and I have to save it for the bus instead of spending it on what I wanted," she says.
Then there are safety concerns. Castillo says she has been offered marijuana on the public bus, and Jose Del Toro, a graduating senior at nearby Jefferson High School, says a fellow passenger once pulled a gun on him as he tried to steal an iPod. Luckily, a police officer was also on board and made the arrest.
"Education now is a cost instead of a privilege," concludes Rodas. "It worries me that many students are not getting what they need because there are no school buses, no music class, fewer teachers, no equipment and fewer reasons to attend school."
Student transporters have many reasons to fight budget cuts, but few are as important or head-turning as those given by the students themselves.