I want to start a debate, maybe even a fight. I know most schools have bus transportation for students. Bus transportation may lead to better student attendance, but what if I told you not having buses for transportation meant more investment from parents.
At Tindley, where I work, we do not have buses as a form of transportation for students. Parents must drop off and pick up their children from school. A few students are dropped off by a daycare provider. Even still, parents have to take time to find a daycare that does both pick up and drop off. I believe not having buses is better for us in the long run. We have unique expectations for students and parents. We have a uniform policy down to the shoes. The investment to send your child to a school with no buses is deep.
Parents must park and walk inside to pick up their children. Then, they sign out their children from the teacher, all of this, after working a long shift at work. Depending on how the day went at school, this entry into the school might also include a conversation with the teacher or the principal. It’s an opportunity to communicate on a regular basis. We all know that more parental involvement means students have a higher chance of academic achievement. Whether I reflect on my time right now as a school leader or my time as a classroom teacher, I believe it is better for everyone when parents are in the school daily. Even if it is just for a quick five minute pick up or drop off, there is some value in parents enter the school daily. When the crutch of the school bus is gone, parents are forced more to come inside the school.
The investment I see in my parents is a lot higher, I believe, than other schools with similar demographics and socioeconomics. Schools like mine fight for parents to come into the school more. Typically parents only show up when requested which is due to their child being in trouble. We see parents in the building all the time. Access to the parents is good for the teacher. Access to the teacher is good for the parents. Ultimately the investment is good for students.
I love dismissal time at my school. It is at dismissal where I get to have conversations with many of my students’ parents, whether it is simple, “Good Afternoon” or quick academic conversations as they walk down the hallway to pick up their child. The lack of buses for us is a good thing. As a leader, it is great because I quickly learn within the first few weeks of the school year who my students’ parents are, and they get to know me as well. I have friends who work in other schools who share stories of meeting some of their parents for the first time during Parent-Teacher Conferences, which usually happens in October. Then, they do not see them again until the start of the second semester in January.
Is it easy? No, it isn’t. What is easy is putting your student at a bus stop every morning and picking them from that same bus stop. You never have to go to school if you don’t want to go. You don’t have to worry about transportation. When the bus is not an option, the investment is more significant. Whether you agree or disagree, I want to hear from you.