Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dr. Craig Spinks: Drive A Mile On My Bus

Saturday, March 3, 2012
Evans, GA

There's an old Indian saw which advises that no one should criticize another without having walked a mile in his moccasins. That saying popped in my mind when I heard of the recent incident involving a Columbia County substitute bus driver's pulling his bus off on the side of a county road and calling the Columbia County sheriff's office.

 Many, if not most, parents of kids in Columbia County public schools were incredulous to see and hear that any school kids would have behaved so badly as to warrant their driver's calling the sheriff and reputedly cursing some of the riders on his bus. Of course, I've never driven a school bus but, as a retired public school teacher who supervised numerous bus-loadings and unloadings, I am aware of the incredibly disruptive and disrespectful things I've seen a small minority of kids demonstrate. And I've seen many more such behaviors in school halls, restrooms, cafeteria and classrooms that tempted me to curse them and to call the police (I did have the Grovetown police called once.

The disrespectful student-batterer was incarcerated and, thanks to the judgement of then-Assistant Superintendent Charles Nagle, was placed in another school permanently. The young man was never allowed to return to Grovetown Middle School. Thanks again, Charlie.).
Thanks, too, to Barry Paschal, publisher of the Columbia News-Times, for promoting in an editorial in his twice-weekly paper the position that riding a public school bus is not a right, but is a privilege which may be lost as a consequence of misbehavior. I'm sure that Mr. Paschall's position didn't win him any friends among those many-too many enabling parents whose children don't lie to them, who don't break any school rules and who are the victims of regular, "evil" teacher practices.
Ms. Sullivent, a Columbia County School System bus driver for over fifteen years, also deserves recognition for drawing public attention to the problems caused by misbehaving bus riders. She recently submitted to The Augusta Chronicle a Letter to the Editor which confronted these problems. The letter appeared in the Augusta Chronicle's March 2, 2012 edition. Sullivent's courage in speaking  the truth about the misbehaviors of some bus riders to our school officials in a public venue is heartening. School bureaucracy has a long and sordid history of failing to deliver the truth about school conditions to those top-tier officials who want to hear it- and we have some in CC. KUDOS to Ms. Sullivent for striking a death knell to the informally-condoned "rug-and-broom" strategy which had frequently been employed by mid-level educrats in previous administrations.
Hopefully, the courageous stands by the unidentified substitute school bus driver, by Ms. Sullivent and by Mr. Paschal will not be ignored or demeaned by my fellow Columbia Countians. Hopefully, these stands will inspire the many, many concerned Columbia County parents, grandparents and other tax payers to visit our school bus stops, to ride our busses and to visit our schools to insure that our kids and the adults who supervise them are safe and are treated respectfully.
Moroever, let us all hope that the examples of these three citizens will not be lost on the residents of Augusta-Richmond County and of the counties which surround our metropolitan area's largest population center. Student misbehavior, after all, is not unique to the Columbia County School System or any other public school system in metro Augusta.***

Dr. Craig Spinks, Ed. D.

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