Heritage Foundation,

Education Freedom Report Card

On Friday, September 9, 2022, I attended the Launch Celebration for the Education Freedom Report Card. Why did the Heritage Foundation invite me? That’s a great question because I’m not a PH.D., teacher, or a parent of school-age kids. If you read my blog, then you know I’m a bus driver. That said. Often, there are overlooked perspectives that a utilitarian mind sees as obvious and maybe that’s the reason. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, I’d like to thank the Heritage Foundation for sponsoring a fantastic event. I don’t go to many professional conferences, but when I do, I always count the number of times my head falls to my chest in slumber. A good conference lasting all day usually scores a three or four. A bad conference qualifies as a long nap. At the Education Freedom Report Card luncheon, I didn’t nod off once. Not even when the keynote speaker, Gov. Ron DeSantis, was delayed, and we were privileged to hear Dr. Jay P. Greene give an impromptu speech about gender affirming care in schools and actual suicide prevention. The fake media facts do not support the truth.

For those of you who didn’t attend the luncheon, Heritage Foundation’s Education Report Card  provides parents and state policymakers information regarding what their schools do well, and what needs work. Under Gov. DeSantis and his Education Commissioner, Manny Diaz, Jr., Florida is #1. But we didn’t score tops in everything, so there’s room for improvement.

Top Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Heritage Foundation Education Report Card Launch

So what in the HE… world was a metro bus driver doing at an Education Conference? Well, I did do some time as a school bus driver. It sounds like a prison sentence, doesn’t it? For some drivers, it is, but not me. My students learned early and fast; how to behave on my bus. I use the same philosophy when dealing with unruly adult passengers. Suffice it to say that children, are pretty much the same, no matter the age.

As a school bus driver (my only qualification for attendance at the luncheon), I made some observations that your typical academician might overlook. That’s not meant as a criticism. PH.D.’s by definition, have a lot on their collective minds. But school bus drivers are in the trenches and have the time to make observations, maybe even formulate an opinion or two.

For what it’s worth—here’s my two cents.

Fuel and access are two important aspects of a quality education. Fuel (not diesel): I’m talking about access to basic nutrition like school breakfast and lunch. I think we all can agree that in order for students to achieve, they need the fuel to do it. When my school bus was late (not my fault), the only complaints I ever heard, came from the kids who wouldn’t get breakfast. If a child’s parents are forced to choose inferior schools just because there’s a menu, where’s the choice? I think there might be room on the education report card for a grade here.

Likewise, another area that comes to mind is the availability of transportation. I know that not all kids can have a bus stop at their front door. But another complaint I used to get was the inability to safely lock bikes up at the bus stops. If a child needs to ride a bike from one neighborhood to another just to catch a bus to their chosen school, a safe lockup just seems obvious. It directly affects access to quality education and may also have a place on the report card.

I don’t know if any of this helps, but it’s what came to my pedestrian mind.

What do you think? Do you have anything to add?

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