No charts, graphs, or statistics here … just common sense.
Let me lay my cards on the table. I do not have school-age children. I’m not a teacher, principal, or college-educated school administrator. I’m a bus driver with two functioning eyes, and a brain. My observations may be basic by establishment standards, even rudimentary; but often, truth is overlooked by complicated sophistication masquerading as intelligence. Read on if you want a prime example.
I’ve been driving the same route for a while and learned its nuances. But before we get into that, you need to know that prior to driving a metro bus, I spent my days honing my craft as a school-bus driver. OK, enough back-story.
There are three school zones on my route that I pass many times a day, some twice in the same loop. Each is active at different hours, and they comprise students from elementary to high school. Depending on the time of day, these school zones can add 5-10 minutes of delay. On a tight one-hour loop, they have a devastating effect on the schedule.
As a professional in my field, I’ve developed techniques to mitigate these delays. One such technique involves a difficult but effective lane change to avoid parent loop overflow.
Bus drivers need to stay in the right-hand lane to make their stops. However, if there’s a large enough gap between bus stops, you can move over into the left-hand lane, get around the backup, and return to the right-hand lane before the next stop. Sounds simple right? Next time someone hands you the keys to a forty-foot bus, try it. FYI, some buses have keys … some don’t.
My next challenge comes at an intersection where I need to make a left-hand turn into a school zone. There’s only one problem, no left turn arrow or turn lane. There is, however, an abundance of traffic, crossing guards, and students impatiently waiting to cross the intersection. Drivers of lesser skill and experience could easily be looking at a five-minute delay. I never need more than one complete traffic-light cycle.
The third school zone is relatively standard and offers no real tactical challenges other than getting through it without incident.
So here we are, halfway through a typical post, and what’s my point? Well, let’s take them in order.
As of today, school has been in session for a few weeks. On the first day, I performed my lane change technique at the parent loop challenge only to discover that my efforts were for naught. There weren’t any cars backed up into the roadway. Then, at the intersection challenge, I didn’t even have to wait for one light cycle. The crossing guard had nothing to do but wave at me as I made my turn. And by the time I arrived at the last school zone, the crossing guard had gone home. I’m assuming it’s because there weren’t any kids left to cross.
And here’s an observation I’m uniquely qualified to make. At the first school zone on my route, the one with the parent loop, I also pass the school bus loop, where the buses drop off and load students. The bus drivers leave the same way they come in and have a difficult time getting back into traffic. I know this because I used to service the same school. As a courtesy, I always stop to let them in, and that’s when I notice it. Every bus was leaving with empty seats; most were less than half full. When I serviced that school, my bus was always packed, and so were all the others.
I don’t know if this is just a localized phenomenon, but it sure seems to me that the student body has thinned out at all grade levels. I bet if we looked inside these classrooms, we’d see a lot of empty seats.
I don’t think it’s a Covid issue because Florida schools have been open for a long time. As for summer stragglers, they should’ve been back a few days after school started.
Then, it occurred to me that maybe these missing kids are being homeschooled. I think that explains some of it. Home schooling might be right for a few, but I don’t think it’s sufficient to account for what I see.
I think parents everywhere, even here in Florida, are taking notice of the garbage our woke public schools are peddling, and they’re starting to vote with their feet. They want their kids to learn math, science, reading, and true American History. As it stands right now, state tax laws won’t let them vote with their dollars. So they put off buying that new home, car, or going on vacation, and they write a check to the private school of their choice. If this trend continues, school boards, teachers’ unions, and all the EdD bureaucrats (like Dr. Jill Biden) are going to be in for a rude awakening.
PS – There’s a solution that will save our schools. It includes public, private, and even homeschooling, but this post has gone on long enough. Look for it in future posts.