Thursday, September 25, 2014

To Succeed in School, You Have to Get There

This afternoon I drove several miles behind a school bus.  We were on a country road.  It was never safe to pull around the bus when we were underway.  I was content to sit and watch as the driver and children made their way home.  Each stop offered a short story about America.  Friends disembarked,  animated by their plans for the afternoon.  A father waited as first one, then a second and finally a third child emerged.  Each was embraced.  They walked off tightly, lovingly.  A dog joined the crowd of moms at the end of a cul de sac development. Backpack personalities: "Twelfth Man" for the Seattle Seahawks; Dora the Explorer; Skip Hop Zoo; Disney Frozen Princesses; courageous transparent plastic; day glo orange.  The earliest bus collecting children for school was called a kid hack. It was often just a farm wagon.  Children in the late 1800's bounced along like so many pigs or chickens.  It would be 50 years before young passengers had much comfort and protection from the weather. Until the 1930's school buses remained crude adaptations of trucks and wagons. The best offered roll-up canvas side curtains.  Many remained open to the elements.  In 1939 rural education representatives met at Columbia University and took up school bus design and safety.  The body and chassis manufacturers were there.  Also the paint companies.  Among the 44 agreed upon industry-wide standards was adoption of National School Bus Glossy Yellow, favored for visibility and sharp contrast with black lettering. There is an American School Bus Council.  You can visit their website and learn much more.  It is their assertion that to succeed in school you have to get there, and they offer convincing statistics about school bus efficiency, effectiveness and safety.  For example, 58% of student fatalities during school hours occur when a teen is driving.  23% when an adult drives but only 1% when students are traveling in a school bus. Twenty five million children ride 480,000 busses every day. The bus dropped off three little girls who skipped and hopped away.  Then it turned off, leaving me, and the line of cars behind me free to go. The pageant was over.   I was a little lonely.  

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