By Tina Townley
OK, so like most people I had a hard time sleeping last night, so many lives were changed forever yesterday, so much sadness. My heart still aches for the family, and having the brother of the boy that passed as a passenger on my bus for the past five years just makes the ache a little more intense. But without disrespect for what happened yesterday, I am a bit upset with the media, so here goes my rant.
So far nothing I have heard or read says much of anything about how safe riding a bus is. Although it took strength and courage for every one of those bus drivers and aids to get on the bus yesterday afternoon and take the kids home, and all the support from other districts that knew how much pain that our district was in that came to help, just in case the pain was still too fresh if one of ours did not want to drive. A bus is the safest form of transportation there is. I mean, think about all the kids fearful to get on a bus including parents that are thinking twice.
I challenge the media to look up some facts now to ease the minds and hearts of so many. Personally I have worked in Kuna for 12 years, so that is about 6,444 times I have been out on a bus as a driver or an aid. That does not include the extra fields trips or shuttles. And of all those times I had one accident with children aboard the bus. I was rear ended while stopped at a stop sign and the kids did not even know it had happened. No injuries at all.
So that is one person in one district in one state. Now if you consider how many bus employees are in the district, the state, etc., the trips go into the MILLIONS, MILLIONS. You have not driven your car as many times as a bus goes out.
We are all human and accidents do happen, but a bus driver/aid or district employee for that matter has trained and worked hard and continues to train, because we KNOW we carry the most precious cargo God put on the planet and we take it seriously.
A bus driver and or aid gets paid less than your local baby sitter gets paid when you consider the ratio of kids to driver. So it is not the money that put us on the bus everyday. It’s because we care about kids. In fact think about it, how many times have you ‘oooohhhed’ and ‘awed’ at your favorite football player or musician? If you had the chance would love to meet them. OK, now, how many times have you thanked your Bus driver, or aid, or teacher, or any of the MANY people in the district that take care of your kids five days a week, from getting them there safe, to teaching them, to feeding them, to cleaning up after them?
In my 12 years I have had a few amazing parents that do appreciate what we do, but only a few. Most are disrespectful and some downright mean, or others that just do not even acknowledge us. Yet there is an expectation there. Our society gets a little skewed. They pay outrageous amounts of money to see a game or a concert, but would they leave their kids with any of those people? I think not. Yet the people they trust to take care of the kids are just expected to do so, with very little pay and even less appreciation.
So if you know anyone in the media, pass this on, a challenge, to ease the hearts and minds of so many in pain or fear. Take a moment to think about the whole picture, not just yesterday. All in all, I would bet your chances of winning the lottery TWICE are higher than getting injured on a school bus. But never take for granted your family, or those that take care of them.