The article about a school bus driver shortage (“School bus drivers needed”, July 16, page 1) was very interesting. What the story describes happening now in Western Pennsylvania was happening seven years ago in Florida, where I was a Pinellas County deputy sheriff.
We had the same problem, but our problem was that the inmates were running the asylum, so to speak. Schoolchildren were behaving very badly on the buses, verbally and physically abusing drivers. The school districts were not supporting the drivers in any way, and basically the kids were doing whatever they wanted on the buses without fear of punishment. The bus drivers, most of whom were paid $8 per hour or less, started quitting. The bus company supervisors had to drive, and they started assigning drivers with short high school runs to extra time driving the later elementary runs — and they still didn’t have enough drivers. The only thing that worked was raising the hourly rate to between $9 and $10 per hour. Keeping drivers has been a constant problem to this day.
My opinion is that the administration and parents must start believing and supporting the drivers by disciplining the students that misbehave, instead of making misconduct the fault of the driver, and threatening to prosecute drivers for physically having to “touch” their child to get their attention and stop disruptive behavior.
When I was in school, between 1959 and 1971, in the Freeport school district, if I misbehaved in school I got paddled in the office. If I misbehaved on the bus, after one warning I was suspended from the bus for two weeks. Both happened twice before I wised up and straightened up. It was 16 miles from my house in Slate Lick to the school in Sarver. Walking was not an option.
To the younger parents of today, the discipline didn’t scar me or bruise my mental state of mind, as they think it does to their child in today’s liberal society.
I wish I had answers for you, but it’s going to get a lot worse nationwide if we don’t start making juveniles take responsibility for their actions. Look at all the school shootings, slashings, plans on kids’ computers to kill their classmates or attack their schools.
Don’t put you head in the sand. It’s a tough subject, and even though no one wants to address it, it must be done — soon.