Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Field Trip!


It was  pretty exciting to see HCPSS Board members visiting the new school sites yesterday. A tip of the hat to Board Chair Vicky Cutroneo for using social media to include community members in their tours by way of live video. Other board members have also posted comments and photos from the visits. This one from Dr. Chao Wu made me think:

Took a school bus for the first time and visited our schools under construction. I am glad to see things moving steadily as planned.

I had to stop for a minute to process this. Dr. Wu had never before ridden a school bus. Why did that surprise me? I don’t know. Until I moved from Cleveland Heights, Ohio to Stamford, Connecticut, I had never ridden on a school bus. Wait, that’s not true. Our school system used them for field trips. At any rate, I reminded myself, not everyone rides school buses. 

Why is this bugging me so much?

I think it leapt out at me because there was so much acrimony during the last redistricting process about how certain decisions would lengthen student bus rides, and how this would create unnecessary hardship. I think if we are going to ask Board Members to make these kind of decisions, we should at least make sure they have had the experience of riding a school bus. 

Am I saying that people who haven’t ever ridden a school bus aren’t qualified to be BOE members? No, not at all. But I do think we should make sure they are provided with this life experience early on in their tenure. This should not be that difficult to accomplish. As long as Dr. Martirano files the right paperwork with the Field Trip Office and all the Board Members return their signed permission slips on time, it should all be a piece of cake. As long as it’s cleared by the Risk Assessment people, that is.

That last bit might be tricky.

If you agree with me that a school bus trip would be an educational experience for board members, where do you think we should send them? I’m wandering a bit from a serious suggestion to…okay, perhaps I’m open to having a little fun with this. Should they ride school bus routes? Should they tag along with school kids to see what it’s really like? 

Or should they stick together instead? Who knows? Maybe they’d even sing a few rounds of  “Ten Green Bottles” or “The Other Day I Met a Bear.”

Are there any other real-life experiences you think we should provide to the Board of Education? It would be impossible to require participation in every single aspect of the school system. But perhaps a few significant ones would be helpful. Next to riding the bus, the next one on my list would be getting through the lunch line and actually eating during the time allotted. That might be truly educational.

Do you have any other suggestions?

This is not a criticism of Dr. Wu or anyone on the Board. It’s simply an opportunity to think. Being on the Board is full of long meetings, analyzing budgets, making tough decisions. I wonder if what they do strays too far from basic things our students live every day: like riding a bus. Or getting through the lunch line.

What do you think? 

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