I’m a professional school bus driver; I’ve been picking up elementary and high school passengers for the past eleven years and delivering them safely to their destinations. The company I drive for is privately owned and contracts with various school systems to provide transportation services for the children. In our case, we bus high school and elementary school students separately
The question whether or not all grades should ride the same school bus is one that brings out many different opinions and attitudes, but the final decision is based more on economics than anything else. When all of the chips are on the table, it is more economical, especially in the county schools, to send one bus to pick up elementary and high school kids from a specific area and deliver them to their schools, than to send separate buses for each.
In my eleven years of service, I’ve seen and heard just about everything one could expect from both the high school and elementary passengers. When it comes to using abusive, curse language, there is no discrimination between high school and grade school passengers; there is always someone who starts, and others who follow. Although I and other drivers have heard it from many children who are Caucasian, the majority of the language comes from those who are considered the minority races.
Fighting on the school buses erupt irregardless of whether the passengers are going to high school or elementary school. Many fights that erupt are often caused when Johnny bumps into Sammy by accident, or when Sally play slaps Jenny and she takes offense to it. Other fights occur because of disagreements that often begin during the school day at school.
Throwing objects out the windows and at other passengers isn’t discriminatory either. All it takes is one passenger to start, and others always tend to follow. The kids think it’s funny but don’t realize the danger they’re putting themselves and the bus driver in because of the distraction it causes.
Sexual harassment occurs irregardless of school affiliations. One year while I was on a high school route, a black boy pulled down the short skirt one of the black girls was wearing when she stood up in the isle at one of the stops. On a grade school route, a white boy grabbed the crotch of one of the white girls. Another day, on one of the grade school routes, a black boy fondled the breasts of a white girl, and the list goes on.
I’ve seen children from both sides of the spectrum bring pornographic magazines they found at home on to the bus and display specific pictures for all to see.
From these few examples I’ve provided, it isn’t hard to realize that there are going to be problems between the children regardless of what school they are attending. Having met many parents of many of the passengers, I quickly discovered why many of the kids are the way they are. If there was more discipline at home, and the children were taught at an early age right from wrong, most of the behavior problems that occur on the school bus could be controlled better or almost eliminated.
When parents are concerned about the safety of their children on the bus, and the moral development they expect their children to learn at the same time, these are good things. It would be nice if all parents were as equally concerned. But, not all parents are concerned, and many believe that their children can do no wrong. When a problem arises on the bus where their child is involved, most parents will blame the bus driver, another child, and/or the school system first.
Should school buses transport high school and elementary children at the same time? From this experienced professional, it is better not to, and when it can be avoided it should. But cities, counties and states often don’t have the luxury to keep them separate due to financial considerations. If a parent is concerned about their child being subjected to things I’ve mentioned here, perhaps the best thing that a parent can do to control these influences on their child’s life, is to remove them from the bus and take them to school themselves.