For first-time readers, this blog is set in the future (sometime after 2020).  This entry assumes the Revenge Revolution has occurred.  For more information about the anticipated 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution — and more background about the author, Entry #1.  One another note: almost all characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.  You’ll catch on quickly.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments. 

Scene: Conversation starts Entry #153. Jordan and JC, a long-time friend (and frequent character) are having dinner. Time of year – just about when school starts.

010414_1635_16TeachingS1.jpgJC: “OK, let’s just pretend we stop discretionary busing. I know most schools will still need some buses but what really happens if we cut busing?”

Jordan: “Three things happen. #1 kids get more time for schoolwork or just to play. #2, kids get to go school in their neighborhood with their friends. They can start to build a bond with the local school and not some far off school. #3, money becomes available to pay teachers more and/or hire better teachers.”

JC: “How much more money? How much do we spend on busing?”

Jordan: “Here’s the math. For each school bus, the taxpayers buy or lease a bus, hire a driver, buy fuel and hire a mechanic for maintenance and repairs. And, just in case the one bus breaks down or needs maintenance, there is a back-up bus – not one for one Turtleneckbut some spares.”

JC: “I understand the costs but it’s not just for one kid. There’s a bunch of kids on a bus.”

Jordan: “For argument sake, let’s assume each bus averages 30 kids. Might be a bit high but reasonable.”

JC: “30 kids is about the same size as an average class.”

Jordan: “Right. So for every $1.00 spend on busing a kid, there is $1.00 less for paying teachers…unless, of course the taxpayers want to increase taxes.”

School-Bus-ClipartJC: “Never thought of the cost of busing quite like that. I wonder if taxpayers do?”

Jordan: “Now we need to figure out what each school bus costs per year.”

JC: “Before you Google that, let’s each take a guess.”

Jordan: “Alright. Write your number down and then we’ll compare estimates.”

JC: “I put down $15,000 per bus per year. So if my math is right, for 30 kids that equates to $500 per year per student.”

Jordan: “I’m going a little higher, $20,000, which works out to be $667 per student per year.”

JC: “Let’s see how we did.”

Jordan: “Here’s the DoE (Department of Education) website. Based on the trend line, it looks as if $1,000 per student per year is more accurate.”

Trash CanJC: “So we were both low. For every student, taxpayers are spending $1,000 per year to bus kids? And in some places, the number’s a lot higher. Spending that much money on busing seems like a waste.  Like throwing money in the trash can.”

Jordan: “We agree that some busing is necessary. But let’s assume that 50.0% of busing is discretionary. Might be higher but 50.0% is a reasonable estimate.”

JC: “If half the busing is discretionary, then for each bus with 30 kids, about $15,000 per year is wasted. Taxpayers, really the school board, could redirect the money to Money-clip-artpay every existing teacher $15,000 more per year. And not have to raise taxes!! Busing is even dumber than I thought.”

Jordan: “You got that right. I wonder how many parents would gladly make the following trade: stop busing your kids for more qualified teachers at the neighborhood school.”

agreement-clipart-business_handshakeJC: “Seems like a no-brainer to me. Plus the kids can spend more time at school studying, participating in extracurricular activities or just goofing off with friends.”

Jordan: “What baffles me is why kids in grammar school have to commute 30-60 or even 90 minutes a day? When I worked in Manhattan and we lived in Connecticut, my commute was not much longer.”

JC: “Plus the kids are sitting on a bus and not walking to school or riding a bike to school. So tell me again, why are we busing these kids?”

Jordan: “People who proposed busing as a solution were likely well intentioned…at Not Understandleast I think they were. But these same people neither thought through the consequences nor really understood the cause of the problem.”

JC: “You’ve said several times that the cause of low performing schools is not poverty per se.”

Jordan: “It’s not poverty per se. And yes, I agree many kids do not have good role models at home.”

JC: “Which begs the question, ‘Why bus kids to another school rather than attract better teachers to the neighborhood school?'”

Jordan: “I understand busing was done initially because schools were segregated…and schools in lower-income neighborhoods, especially black neighborhoods, were inferior.”

JC: “After busing became more widespread, did educational scores improve for kids business-free-clip-artbeing bussed?”

Jordan: “Probably, but I think only temporarily. One of the unintended consequences was busing ended up eroding confidence in and support of public schools.”

JC: “You mean because more parents sent their kids to private schools rather than being bussed?”

Jordan: “Charlotte (NC) is a good example. After busing between neighborhoods started more parents sent kids to private schools and religious schools…along with a big jump in home schooling.”

JC: “What about charter schools? Are they a good alternative?”

Charter SchoolJordan: “Another non-solution that addresses the symptoms, not the cause. Charters are a darling of many Republican politicians. Charters were promoted as better than public schools because…”

JC: “…because students attending want to learn, because charters offer better-qualified teachers…and of course, charters have no unions – the cause of most problems with public schools.”

Jordan: “You take a sour pill today? By the way, I agree with your comments. In my view, the problem with charter schools is twofold.”

JC: “Hold that thought. I need to take a break.”

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