Friday, February 08, 2002

guest commentary

On Tuesday, Larry posted an invitation for commentary from the community at large. We received a passionate email that covered a subject that is of considerable importance in our community. The author asked that it be signed "a concern parent." I'd like to thank the author for submitting this message. They are some words for us all to think about carefully. Here's the message:

How safe is the school bus your children ride on every day?

We all want to believe that everyone has safety and concern for others set as priorities, especially when it comes to the ones we love and care for; our children. We cannot fathom anyone caring any less for them than we do.

However, it seems that transporting our children to and from school everyday may not entirely be about safety. Have the bus companies, our school districts and local governments been lulling us into a false sense of security? How safe realistically are our children when they walk up the steps of the big yellow bus every single school day?

Just think of the immense responsibility that weighs on bus drivers. They may carry upwards of fifty children at a time. They are however barely paid above the minimum wage. We also expect them to drive defensively, follow school and bus company procedures while babysitting and taming our cherubs during every trip. Most of us can relate to having to drive down the highway with a couple of screaming kids in the backseat. Can you imagine thirty, forty, even fifty?

Are we certain it is realistic to expect one person to assume all these responsibilities? Which brings me to my next concern; which criteria are used to select a bus driver? Is it his or her love for children, his or her impeccable driving record, his or her clean police record or his or her stable employment history? What are the school bus companies and school districts actively doing every day to ensure that any bus driver can be completely trusted with your child?

Let's not kid ourselves. If parents did their homework, bus companies, school districts and government would uphold sound safety rules and regulations. We must make our children's safety the bottom line and for once not the all-mighty dollar.

We cannot afford to wait for a child, maybe yours, to get hurt before "something good comes out of it". We can make something good happen right now for our children and their children. Talk to your school officials, your Senator. Find out what the law is when it comes to our childrens' safety on and around the school bus. We, as parents, must do more to guarantee the safety of our children because it is OUR responsibility, WE THE PEOPLE.

Transporting our children should not be a business. The buck must stop here or we are looking at many accidents to happen. One of them may even involve your child. It did mine!

- A concerned parent