A 2015 survey by School Bus Fleet magazine showed that 92 percent of responding districts had a shortage of school bus drivers. When I reported on it, he acted interested. Adding to the stress, the state now leans heavily on test scores to evaluate teachers. Learning to Wonder Even within the two subjects favored under the NCLB testing regime, teachers report they have to fight to teach creatively and to foster creativity among their students. But neither is standing all day in classroom or walking around a school full of kids. As with substitute school teachers, bus driver “subs” are susceptible to student mischief. “With different, temporary drivers there’s no consistency coming from an authority figure,” says John Gore, a 20-year veteran bus driver for Brunswick County Public Schools System in North Carolina. “Some students think it’s a party day.” Last fall, Brunswick had 12 open driver positions, about 7 percent of its fleet.
Toomer has an interesting method for combating test prep. In Brunswick, administrators posted notices for drivers in school newsletters and on school cafeteria menus. In a Wake County survey this school year, shared runs were among the items that principals said they hoped would be discontinued. We had to teach about testing conditions, Scantron sheets, pencils. Finding Solutions Some districts have embarked on public awareness campaigns that highlight the benefits of being a school bus driver.
Wake is budgeted to have 850 bus drivers but only has 742 filled positions. They also purchased a large banner calling for applicants that was hung on a school bus and driven around the county. “We want to let people know there are permanent part-time jobs available driving a school bus,” says Gore, who is also an assistant teacher for specialized classes at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School. “Essentially, we want to identify and hire the most experienced, reliable drivers we can find.” Nationally, a shortage of bus drivers has school districts as well as private school bus contractors scrambling for ways to recruit and retain drivers. They analyzed facts and biases to come up with their own individual opinions. In Brunswick, Gore says administrators posted notices for drivers in school newsletters and on school cafeteria menus. You need the mental acuity of a good night’s sleep to advocate for your cause in a walkout and to manage a classroom full of students. Don’t feel you can’t do it. In Tigard, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, Karen Johnson still asks students to share a favorite book that they’ve read recently for pleasure. “It teaches me who they are as a reader, and it gives other kids ideas—‘Maybe I’ll read that,’” she says. “Can I point to the standard that lesson covers?
Probably not. You can’t substitute that type of relationship between a permanent driver and their students and families.” It was the 1970s and chairs were always in straight rows, but he put them in a circle—that was weird!” Her teacher had every student pick an interesting book. “Mine was about biorhythms,” Johnson recalls. “I thought that was cool. So this year, I’m putting a big focus on getting kids to learn to choose books, because that’s part of the human experience and they’ll have a better life if they do!” “The biggest and best thing I do is get kids excited about learning. When her students are working on memoir writing, Toomer invites authors who are writing their own. And last October, Silveri was surprised in front of her clapping, cheering school with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award, given to celebrate, elevate, and activate exemplary K-12 educators In the Bronx, New York, English teacher Jeanette Toomer had a terrible time in a middle school several years ago. “It was a test factory with tests every eight weeks. Marching and rallying for hours a day, several days in a row, in the elements, is not for the faint of heart.
Her students watched the movie and another film that suggests global warming is a hoax. I homework market want to be that teacher, not the teacher that had perfect test scores.” No One Size Fits All Across the country, educators compromise when they must, but keep fighting to help creativity flourish. Among those respondents, 30 percent considered their shortage of drivers “severe or desperate.” “There are no clear-cut solutions that work in every district,” says Gore. “But for the sake of students, you have to keep at it.” Needed: More Incentives In North Carolina’s largest school district, Wake County Public School System, 166 buses have been removed over the past three years due in large part to difficulties keeping drivers on the payroll. “We’re concerned about the trend,” Transportation Services Director Bob Snidemiller said at a recent Wake County school board meeting. “We’re continuing to lose drivers.” To counter the shortage, school administrators are constantly searching for ways to attract drivers. The imaginative lessons of no-test week will help them develop those skills. Over the past few months, educators across America have staged walkouts and demonstrations to bring attention to abysmal conditions facing our schools and students after decades of funding neglect. This is a significant increase from 2010 when 71 percent of districts polled stated they had a shortage. It can put drivers on the defensive.” Shared Runs Not Popular Wake county drivers transport more than 75,000 daily riders on 762 buses, down from 925 buses running daily in the 2013-2014 school year.
He says there are two items that would have the greatest effect on retaining bus drivers: “A pay increase and more support from transportation officials and administrators. It took courage, and also stamina. “As kids get older, the world demands creative thinking and problem solving,” says fifth-grade teacher Lisa Jeschke. They were spellbound. “When he walked in, you had no idea he had this interesting past,” she said to them. “You, too, have a real story that people want to hear and that you can share. He’d say, ‘Stop what you’re doing! Prepare for the test on Wednesday!’” So she moved to Jane Addams High School where she found more room to innovate and engage her students, although this school, too, says Toomer, is “on the firing line” because of low scores. There’s less opportunity for teachers or students to try fresh, original thinking.
NCLB has caused barely a ripple in scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is the only national standardized testing system. You’re the expert: It’s your life. That’s especially true for schools that are not making “adequate yearly progress (AYP).” The fact that Poestenkill Elementary is making AYP made it a lot easier to decide to take a week off from testing. This school year, administrators estimated there were 22,000 bus stops in the mornings, compared to 25,000 last school year. And when he saw that the references in the bibliography were in German, he asked me, ‘Are you going to learn German so you can read more about this?’ “He truly did alter my life. Zion High School in Jonesboro, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, high school English teacher Shekema Silveri believes her students need risk-taking teaching, and she gives it to them.
The high cost of high-stakes testing in inhibiting creative teaching and failing to foster students’ inventiveness is not easily seen from the far away halls of Congress and the federal bureaucracy. In Brunswick, the county reimburses drivers for their commercial license fees and offers bonuses for good attendance — $500 for the first 90 days of the school year and $1,000 for an entire year of perfect attendance. According to some educators, shared runs are not popular with high schools, where the wait in the afternoon for drivers to return for the second run can lead to behavioral issues among students. Schools do not generally test for creative thinking, so there are no numbers to quantify the loss. You need a nutrition powerhouse for breakfast to give you the energy you’ll need during a walkout or a full day at school. I got it that you learn because learning is interesting, and if you learn deeply, it’s even more interesting.
Of the 92 percent responding, approximately 18 percent reported a severe shortage while 8 percent stated they were “desperate.” The remaining 66 percent considered their shortages “mild or moderate.” Even among private transportation service contractors, the survey found that 94 percent of school bus privateers reported shortages in 2015 compared with 85 percent the year before. NEA believes the federal government shouldn’t be a micromanager of state and local responsibilities and has urged Congress to include such flexibility as it moves forward with ESEA reauthorization this year. Teachers report they have less time for social studies, art, music, physical education, and even science because they must focus on the two subjects that can flunk a school under NCLB: English language arts and math. Although, he states in the news article, the system also had to make up for fewer available drivers. Go for lean protein and fruits. While bus ride times are not longer, students are now expected to walk longer distances to get to bus stops.
The son of an African-American Korean War soldier and a Korean mother told her students about growing up in a hut, joining a gang of boys who stole to survive, not knowing who his father was, and experiencing prejudice from other Koreans. But NCLB has made a difference in other ways. Keep your energy going all day with more lean protein, like chicken or fish, nuts and vegetables. Essentially, the driver will pick up and drop students off at the school and then return to make another run. After almost 20 years, Gore earns $13.56 an hour for driving a bus, just over the starting salary of $11.93 a new driver earns in Brunswick. “We use to be compensated under a pay step system,” says Gore, a member of the Brunswick NCAE. “When we changed to an hourly wage system, some of us did not do as well in the long run.” Gore is behind the wheel of a bus about three hours a day. Sometimes that means going off on a tangent. Drivers need administrators who have your back because kids and parents can say things that may be exaggerated or not include the whole truth.
Driving a school bus is typically a part-time job, so bonus pay can help attract drivers, for example, who retired young and are looking for a second career, says Gore. “I think you may need an age limit or method to evaluate a person’s reflexes and ability to perform well under various weather and traffic conditions,” says Gore, who averages 65 students per run. “In addition to driving safely and meeting a schedule, drivers must know how to handle student disciplinary issues too.” Compensation Falling Behind In 2015, most public or privately-employed drivers worked only 2.5 to five hours a day and were paid a mean salary of $15.66 an hour, according to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics. The richness is in you and it will come out on the paper.” Sadly, that richness will not be on the test. The impact of the tests is much greater on newer teachers, she says. Wake has another 20 permanent substitute drivers who are sometimes running daily routes instead of their intended job of filling in for absent drivers. “I have driven three generations of students,” Gore says. “Parents know me from way back. This year Silveri used An Inconvenient Truth to explore the way hot political issues are debated.
The proposal involves the use of available funding to give bonuses to drivers who commit to staying on the payroll after the school year ends in June. Meanwhile, the number of students has continued to climb. At Mt. As we head into the last weeks of school, Audrey Cunneely, a health assistant in Tucson and Arizona ESP of the Year, says the healthy lessons she learned during her state’s walkout can be applied to your school day, too. Eat Healthy Meals and Snacks Say no to the donuts! While delicious and filling in the moment, a donut is full of sugar and refined carbs that will cause you to crash.
Some of the changes are the result of making routes more efficient, Snidemiller told the News and Observer. In Wake County, the starting salary for drivers is $12.55 an hour ($19,327 a year). I want them to question and wonder. Fifth-grade teacher Jeschke says that in her 24 years of teaching, she has developed a repertoire of effective strategies and the confidence to use them, and that helps her combat test frenzy. When the faculty is prepping students for state tests, she says, the lessons are more about formulaic ways to write essays and answer questions, because that’s what it takes to score high.
NCLB-era requirements are handcuffing states who want to design and implement assessments that promote key skills such as critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. Get Enough Sleep Not only does lack of sleep cause physical exhaustion, making it difficult to stand on your feet all day in a walkout or in a classroom, it impairs your judgement, lowers your ability to cope with annoyances – like a heckler at a demonstration or a disruptive student – and makes organization and planning much more difficult. Some solutions include: • Signing bonuses • Benefit packages • Flexible schedules with limited hours • Attracting parents as drivers, which allows them to take their children to and from school • Touting the job as a community service • Lobbying legislators to reduce the wait time for trained drivers to take the state test Even with streamlined bus runs, Wake County and other districts across the nation have employed the use of “shared runs” where drivers run multiple routes for the same school. Whether it’s absenteeism or a shortage of drivers, Gore says school districts must do more to recruit and retain experienced drivers. “We carry a most precious cargo,” he says. “The school bus driver shortage happening across our nation affects students above all else.” To counter the shortage, school administrators are constantly searching for ways to attract drivers. I remember the teacher who did that for me.
So it’s particularly telling that even at Poestenkill, the principal and faculty feel the testing culture is cramping creativity. The kids were stressed, we were stressed, the principal was going crazy. Pack a tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat bread or a chicken salad. But it has so much value.” Last year for the first time, many of her students couldn’t think of a book they’d read on their own—only those assigned in class. “I was appalled. They also purchased a large banner calling for applicants that was hung on a school bus and driven around the county.
A member of Wake North Carolina Association of Educators (WNCAE), Snidemiller proposes giving drivers a $750 retention bonus this school year because drivers are beginning to look for summer jobs which may cause them not to return in the fall. The school has a very low poverty rate, is overwhelmingly white, and almost every child is fluent in English.