Scene: Jordan and JC have been chatting over coffee.  Just finished phone conversation with Rock Man.

Jordan:  “Interesting conversation with Rock Man.  Anxious to get his ideas.  By the way, when are you leaving to go see Greenie?”

010414_1635_16TeachingS1.jpgJC:  “I’m not.”

Jordan:  “Why not?”

JC:  “Because she’s coming here.  She finished her meeting early, called and we thought we could gang up on you for a while.”

Jordan:  “Just what I need.  Two women ganging up on me.”

JC:  Jordan, you love it.  And here’s Greenie.”

Greenie:  “Jordan, been a long time.  Great to see you…but you feeling OK?”

Jordan:  “Greenie, nice to see you.  You sound like your partner in crime over here.  Same question.  Yes, I’m fine.  How are you?”

010414_1635_16StudentsL2.jpgGreenie:  “As one used to say, ‘fair to meddling.’  I’m fine.  Thanks.  Understand from JC you been taking some nasty pills lately.”

Jordan:  “See, you guys have started already.  Whadda mean nasty pills?”

Greenie:  “Beating up on the black community.  What’s going on?”

Jordan:  “First, I’m not beating up on the black community.  Actually trying to help.  But you know as well as I, that solving tough problems requires laying out some facts, good and bad.”

JC:  “We’re giving you are a hard time Jordan.  Few people are willing to really address underlying issues.  And we all know the fact-gathering phase can sometimes appear biased and ugly.”

Jordan:  “Well, I have another idea and having both your opinions would be helpful.”

JC:  “Greenie, want to bet what the topic is?”

Greenie:  “No, but I’m certain it will be interesting…and controversial.  What is it, Jordan?”

Jordan:  “Sort of all came together on the way here this morning.  Today is the…”

Greenie:  “…first day of school.  Have something to do with school?”

Jordan:  “You guys are good.  Yes.  I left early, it was not even 6:00am…”

JC:  “…People get up that early?  OK, I’ll listen.”

School-Bus-ClipartJordan:  “Thank you.  Not even 6:00 and there are school buses on the road.  The school buses made me think of three things: (i) why are we having kids commute to school, especially at a ridiculously early hour? (ii) why are we spending money on buses and fuel and not on teachers and textbooks for the children ? (iii) are children learning any more by busing them to a different school?

Greenie:  “You do like controversial topics, don’t you?  You know why the kids are being bused.”

Jordan:  “The obvious answer is in response to Brown vs. Board of Education.”

JC:  “I agree.  And so, if I understand the underlying point of your question, the issue is whether Brown — i.e., busing — is still necessary and, maybe more appropriately still relevant?”

Greenie:  “I think you raise an interesting point.  But what I would like to do is address the other two concerns first – is spending money on transportation more valuable than spending money on teachers and textbooks?  Second, and a related question, at the end of the day, are students learning more by being bussed?”

JC:  “If one takes Brown out of the equation, then why would you bus students?”

Jordan:  “You wouldn’t.  That’s the essence of my question.  Busing per se seems like a non-value added activity that wastes time, adds cost and adds pollution and congestion.  Smart activity, huh?”

122813_2140_15Education4.jpgGreenie:  “I think it’s even worse.  By not being able to attend the closest school, kids do not develop an emotional bond to the school.  Think about as a kid, how often did you play at the schoolyard before or after school, weekends or in the summer?  If you attend a school outside your neighborhood, you don’t have the same attachment.”

JC:  “I hadn’t thought about this but my guess is parent participation drops sharply when kids are bused.  Parents are hard pressed for time.  When the school is outside the neighborhood, then going to a meeting with the teacher requires a 20-30 minute drive and not 3-4 minutes or a short walk.”

Greenie:  “Least we not forget the kiddies.  We all walked or rode bikes to school.  Yes, I know times are different but not that much different.  Little Janie and Johnnie can walk.  They get some exercise and a chance to talk to friends.”

JC:  “What about the cost?”

Jordan:  “I did a quick search this morning.  If you adjust most recently available data, a school district can save about $40,000 per year for each bus route eliminated.   I think that estimate is way low.  I would put the number above $100,000 per year, maybe a lot higher.”

Black School Teacher Greenie:  “Whatever the number each bus route equals at least one teacher.  So the trade-off becomes, OK parents, what do you want for your kids — a yellow bus or teacher? ”

JC:  “When all the busing got started, society could probably afford both the bus and the teacher.  But not as much today.  Why are few people talking about the economics?”

Jordan:  “Because we are caught up in the politics…and maybe rightfully so.”

Greenie:  “My vote is this.  Hold that thought.  Let’s get a refill and continue the conversation.”