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Home > Green News > SOLUTIONS MAGAZINE > Special Reports > Special Reports and Featured Products about Green Best Practices > Vision!

School Bus Transportation Converts to Family and Shuttle Vehicles

School busing is an outmoded solution to the social, academic and community education of our children -- what's your solution?

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Time for Alternatives to Transporting Students

About 800 children are killed and 152,000 are injured annually during school travel hours; 2% of the deaths and 4% of the injuries involve school buses, according to a 2002 study by the National Research Council. The rest occur when children are walking or bicycling to school, or in family cars, particularly if a teenager is driving.

800 children killed and 152,000 injured during school transport times?

Does this situation strike anyone else as being of "epidemic proportions"?

Alternatives to School Children Injuries and Death

I live in a neighborhood that has 1 public high school, 1 private high school, and 1 elementary school. Needless to say, we swim in children during the school travel times. In general we don't see any safety problems...but those numbers are startling and compare to the impact of air quality on death and health rates.

A 2008 story in the LA Times brought a number of startling statistics to the forefront.

  • California does not guarantee children transportation to school. In spite of all the busing that goes on!
  • A year's worth of bus service costs an average of nearly $1,400 per student in urban districts and more than $900 per rural pupil, according to the state auditor's report.
  • Thousands of California students will have to find their own way to school this fall, as districts slash bus routes to cope with budget shortfalls and high fuel costs.
  • Private shuttle companies ferry students to school -- for $400 a month
  • With a shift from school buses to private cars and shuttles, school loading/unloading zones are going to be significantly more dangerous
  • Extra cars on the roads are also prompting at least one city to threaten to sue a school district over its bus program reductions.
School district officials say the situation will get worse unless the state provides more funding for transportation.

I'm concerned that funding for transportation is a bandaid on a serious health problem! Something has happened to communities and our children are paying the price by isolating them from their local communities, their families, and their lifelong relationship building needs.

I grew up in a rural area and traveled by school bus more than a hour each way until I was in high school. Then the commute was shaved by a few minutes and an occasional ride from a neighbor. I understand the impact of all those hours. When I moved to the city as an adult, our son attended a neighborhood elementary school and he grew up with friends -- developing friendship and skills that I never had the opportunity to develop. It's not all the school's fault, but communities are the safety net for imperfect families ... it really DOES take a village to raise our children.

But villages aren't spread over 20 or 30 square miles. Villages are neighborhoods, communities with shared events, shared geography, shared challenges.

Supreme Court decisions in the past have created a reliance on transportation as a solution instead of residents taking responsibility for their local communities. We're learning the hard way that it is easier to transport IDEAS than BODIES. Maybe it's time to re-establish neighborhood schools and take advantage of the transport of ideas -- through the internet, television, books, etc.

It's time to take a new look at education. With 50% dropout rates, our children are on a sit-down strike against our outdated system of education. They depend on us to fix this mess.

And transportation money isn't going to get at the heart of the problem. Its' just one more gold-thread bandage.

An ad by IBM last year caught my attention. It was about taking quality education to a little girl in rural China. IF that is possible "over there", what can we accomplish with localized education here?

The home-schooling movement is growing rapidly because many parents are very concerned about their children's education. Some for quality reasons; some for safety; some for values.

And they have a point. Sending our children to anonymous factories in which they have a 50/50 chance of even graduating should kick all of us in the tusche and tell us to get real, get involved, and find better solutions for our LOCAL educational challenges.

California has some tools available such as private schools, home schooling groups, and charter schools. It's time for those of us with a college education and/or practical experience to put that knowledge to work for our future, and our children's future.

It can't be good that half our children are dropping out of school. That just doesn't make sense any way you slice it. We need a more nutritious American apple pie.

The solution is you. What can you do in your own neighborhood? Besides driving children to distant schools, that's just another form of outsourcing. And we know how outsourcing has impacted the core of American business. Now we face it in our families and our communities. Can we afford to continue this unsustainable system?



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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