Mandated Monitor Waste

Here’s the scene: Shortly after 7:00 a.m. on a semi-rural road that locals often use to avoid a mile or so of Middletown’s two main roads, the school bus pulls up to a modest split-level house, and the driver opens the double doors. A middle-school girl skips up the driveway and stops a few feet from the bus. She waits. She hooks her thumbs in her backpack straps. Motorists crane their necks to see what’s going on.
Finally, first one leg then another appear. An elderly woman in an reflective vest climbs backwards onto the street. With one arm still attached to the handrail, she leans a little out of the way, and the young girl bounds effortlessly up the stairs. The bus monitor bows her head, takes a deep breath, and begins the laborious climb back up to her seat.
Now, if the people of Middletown feel that the benefit of intergenerational cooperation is worth the expense of such morning-time chaperons, then I’m hardly in a position to object. However, we have, here, a living, breathing example that the arguments proffered for a state-level bus-monitor mandate are not actually the most significant motivations. The woman in question makes no pretense of inspecting the underside of the bus for suicidal children, and were a child about to enter into danger crossing the street, or something, she would likely prove physically unable to prevent the calamity. The bus driver and the horn would be more effective.
This, folks, is one small emblem culled from daily life explaining Rhode Island’s deterioration.

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Former Bus Driver
Former Bus Driver
11 years ago

And why do we need the BUS DRIVER, I am sure there are Conservative parents who would do his/her job on a volunteer basis. Driving a bus and controlling 60 kids at the same time, is a piece of cake. Ask me I have done it. The conservative’s kids are always well behaved, I only had to worry about the kids who had liberal parents,

mangeek
mangeek
11 years ago

The answer is that somewhere along the line, public policy has become completely disconnected from the cost/benefit analysis.
We’re in a ‘safety at all costs’ society, often with little or no evidence that the measures we’re adopting have any effect.
I know that it’s commonly said that ‘there’s no amount of money that can equal a life’, but the ability to name a price and work off of it is one of the core requirements for those who write policy. How else can we find a happy medium between death and injury vs. expense and infringement of freedom.
The question is: What happens when things that people -perceive- as providing safety are taken away.
How would you feel about turning every-other street light off in the city, or going to dramatically lower-wattage bulbs? When that idea is floated, people freak out about crime, even though street lights and crime aren’t actually well-correlated.
How about accepting a 0.027% increase in mortality (that’s under 3 hundredths of one percent) to save $5,100,000,000 a year? If you think that’s a good deal, you understand what’s going on behind the mammography fiasco a few months ago.

OldTimelefty
11 years ago

Another unworthy piece of pap from Justin. What nonsense.
OldTimelefty

David S
David S
11 years ago

mangeek – this article offeres some history about the RI monitor law. Bus monitor requirements to be debated 01:00 AM EST on Sunday, January 18, 2009 By Gina Macris Journal Staff Writer The Providence Journal Kathy Borchers There can be no price tag on school safety, says Sophia Pendergast of Middletown, whose 6-year-old daughter was crushed by a school bus in 1985. Vanessa Ann Pendergast, who had just been dropped off a couple of doors away from her home one Friday afternoon in May, was one of three Rhode Island children run over by school buses that year. The next year, the General Assembly enacted a law requiring adult monitors to ride on elementary school buses. Since then, not a single child has died. But after 22 years, Rhode Island is about to renew its debate on the necessity of monitors on elementary school buses, those carrying children in kindergarten through grade five. Governor Carcieri has proposed repealing the bus monitor law, enabling communities to save as much as $12.2 million if they all forgo monitors. Pendergast has organized a letter-writing campaign to convince legislators to keep the law in place, despite mounting pressure on local school budgets. Carcieri spokeswoman Amy Kempe says that lifting the mandate would not automatically eliminate the monitors. The change simply would give communities the choice of discontinuing their services or keeping them, she said. Kempe says the governor’s proposal responds to representatives of the cities and towns, who have expressed concerns about the cost of unfunded mandates during multiple meetings with the governor and his staff over the impending midyear cuts in local aid from the state. Eliminating bus monitors would save money that could be used to help offset reductions in state revenue as the worst fiscal crisis in generations trickles down to… Read more »

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Yeah, Former Bus Driver, observing that a supposedly critical job is filled by somebody who can’t possibly perform the most critical functions is just like insisting that we don’t need bus drivers.
Think on this: If the risk of children being killed in the absence of bus monitors is so substantial, how can a conscientious district hire people who, if anything, are more likely to be hurt during the bus ride than the children are?

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

While, thank heavens, this is not a blanket statement about all government jobs involving public safety, only in government could actual qualifications for the job – a job whose primary fuction purportedly is the safety of children – be a distant second to something else.

mangeek
mangeek
11 years ago

“There can be no price tag on school safety”
“$12.2 million if they all forgo monitors”
“In the 15 years before the law passed, The Providence Journal reported the deaths of six children who had been crushed by school buses”
“Nationally, an average of 19 school-age children die in school-bus related accidents each year”
OK. I’m going to put all that together…
Remember, this is -policy-, not -politics-.
Our death rate before we were spending $12M/year was 0.4/year. Our death rate after is 0. A little flip of the calculator shows the math to be an even $30 million spent to save each life.
As far as spending to save lives goes, this is a -bad- deal. There are much more effective ways to save lives for less money.
A ‘don’t play under the bus’ campaign in the schools would be a much better value. Cameras or sensors mounted under the bus would be a -MUCH- better value, and might even be more effective. Cameras and infrared sensors don’t retire with 66% pay after 27 years.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

DavidS
Thanks for the history of this mandate.
OldTimeLefty
Katz is most likely pissed off because of the small wait he endured while in traffic.

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

What I am reading here is:
“Finally, first one leg then another appear. An elderly woman in an reflective vest climbs backwards onto the street. With one arm still attached to the handrail, she leans a little out of the way, and the young girl bounds effortlessly up the stairs. The bus monitor bows her head, takes a deep breath, and begins the laborious climb back up to her seat.”
Justin are you justifying the need to openly discriminate against senior citizens having a job because you also will become a senior citizen in need to supplement your retirement income in the future?
Do not forget what you are advocating will impact your mother and father.

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

CORRECTION:
“Justin are you justifying the need to openly discriminate against senior citizens having a job because you also will become a senior citizen in need to supplement your retirement income in the future?”
Should read:
Justin are you justifying the need to openly discriminate against senior citizens having a job because you also will become a senior citizen in need to supplement their retirement income in the future?

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

SORRY FINAL CORRECTION:
“Justin are you justifying the need to openly discriminate against senior citizens having a job because you also will become a senior citizen in need to supplement their retirement income in the future?”
Should read:
Justin are you justifying the need to openly discriminate against senior citizens having a job because you also will become a senior citizen in probable need to supplement retirement income in the future?

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Justin,
You like graphic descriptions of abortions. What say you pen some graphic depictions of children crushed by school buses?
OldTimeLefty

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