Dan Domenech at the American Association of School Administrators blogged today on the coming release of a new documentary by Davis Guggenheim that explores how far our public education system has fallen. Yet, Domenech writes, the most recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll found that 77 percent of parents assign a grade of A or B to the school attended by their oldest child. Meanwhile, 49 percent of parents assigned a grade of A or B to the school in their community.
These figures represent some of the highest grades given to public education, and they appear to mirror parent feedback on the safety of school busing and the link between school transportation options and the ability for children to learn by getting them to school in the first place. Just last summer, the American School Bus Council published data that shows that 93 percent of parents surveyed believe the yellow school bus contributes to the nation’s education system by providing guaranteed transportation to and from school for millions of students. And, 73 percent said that cuts to yellow school bus service would likely result in more students would being absent from school more often.
A culprit in this game could be the federal Race to the Top program designed to turn around the lowest-achieving schools, which only represents about 5 percent of schools nationwide. Domenech calls these schools "drop out factories," and many of them are the same ones that give their students fewer yellow bus options. Domenech reminds his readers that we can't let 5 percent spoil the gains made by the other 95 percent of schools that are making sustained, positive differences in the lives of students.
We can also not forget the benefits provided by some 480,000 school buses nationwide engaged in student transportation. Statistically speaking, Domenech's "95/5 Dilemma" more than mirrors that of school buses when looked at in terms of the number of students killed or injured on the way to or from school compared to the number of students who arrive at their destination safe and sound each day prepared to learn. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has gotten the message as has the U.S. Department of Education, which is apparently set to begin a school bus survey next month, likely related to school bus bullying.
Where industry efforts to get the feds more involved, or at least more vocal, with regard to school bus transportation remains to be seen. But school districts, bus companies, vendors and the like must continue to bridge student achievement to the safe student travel that school buses afford.
Remember, School Bus Safety Week is less than one month away.