Nov 082006

Google news recently served up a lot of headlines about a study on school bus injuries by one Jennifer McGeehan.

The most amusing headline was the one in Forbes: “School Bus Injuries More Common than Thought”. Well, it wouldn’t take much to be more common than that.

I was prepared to poke a little fun at this study, but saved myself some trouble by downloading the actual study from Pediatrics and reading it rather than relying on what the news articles said about it. So I don’t have anything to say about the science part of this publication. As far as I know, it’s just fine. I can accept its findings at face value. The reasons why this study found so many more injuries than others did seem plausible and apt.

In the discussion section the authors depart from the science and their own data to talk about recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This group has apparently recommended seat belts for school busses and the use of extra supervision to reduce accidents.

This is where the thing still bothers me. Extra supervision means hiring more people to do things other than teach, which would mean less money spent on actual education and more on transportation.

That is discouraging. I wish that money could instead be spent on making school buses unnecessary, or at least reducing the amount of time kids spend on them. That could be done in part by breaking up school districts into smaller units more closely tied to families and neighborhoods. There are a lot of other good reasons to do that, and I will not go into them here. But transportation is one.

I say it’s a form of child abuse when we put our kids in these tin cans and let their childhoods waste away on them. Seat belts and extra supervision aren’t going to change that. I confess — I am still resentful of all the hours of my life I lost to the school bus in rural Minnesota in the mid 1960s. I disliked having our own kids ride buses. Let’s put our money and energy into getting rid of these abominations.