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utting or reducing school-bus transportation to funnel more funds to the classroom makes no sense to Peter Cookson. “Cutting transportation to put money back in the

classroom is not a logical argument,” he said. “It’s a false choice, sacrificing the number of bus drivers vs. teachers.” He gave the example of the role school buses play in rural

education. He should know as he once taught at a rural school. “School buses are the lifeblood of a school system,” he ar- gued during an interview in February, after being selected to provide a keynote address this summer at the STN EXPO, presented by School Transportation News. “If you don’t care for your blood stream, and your blood cells tell all about your health, than you are not going to be healthy.” Te principal education researcher and leader of the

Equity Project at D.C. think tank American Institute of Research said, in fact, that the yellow school bus is a direct extension of the children’s education bill of rights, which he authored in 2011. Actually titled “Sacred Trust,” the book outlines 10 fundamental civil rights that he thinks should be afforded to all students. Tey include the right to attend a local school that is “funded for excellence” and the right to physical and emotional safety. He wrote that students should have the right to a curriculum based on relevance, depth and flexibility. Tey should be able to at least com- plete high school. Cookson said he also believes all students should be able to have their heritage, background and religious differences

yellow bus. It just so happens that last month also marked the 75th anniversary of National School Bus Glossy Yellow, which was standardized by Frank Cyr at Teachers College at Columbia University. It’s also no coincidence that Cook- son is a current faculty member there, teaching Sociology of Urban Education. Tose at Teacher’s College take great pride in the original

1939 school bus specification conference occurring there, he said, as it represents education equity and the success the institution has had over the decades in influencing the con- versation. And, of course, Teacher’s College can be viewed as a sort of Mecca for school bus professionals. For this reason, he will also talk about the pride that

school bus drivers and other personnel should take in them- selves and their responsibilities each and every day. “Being a school bus driver is one of the hardest jobs

in America,” said Cookson. “Kids being kids, the safety training that is required of school bus drivers make it such an under-recognized profession. Without a commitment to transportation, none of these (educational objectives) would hold together,” he added. “We don’t just pick up our own kids, we stop for all children. It’s taken for granted.” His presentation comes amid the 50th anniversary of

the War on Poverty, waged by President Lyndon Johnson and part of his Great Society. From that, of course, came Economic Opportunity Act, Head Start and, in the 1970s, desegregation busing, which the U.S. Supreme Court over- turned just eight years ago.

“School buses are the lifeblood of a school system. (They're) an essential infrastructure ingredient.”

-Peter Cookson, Principal Education Researcher at the American Institute of Research and STN EXPO Keynote Presenter

honored, incorporated in study and celebrated in the culture of the school, that they should be able to develop individual learning styles and strategies to the greatest extent possible and that they learn from excellent and dedicated teach- ers who are led by school administrators with vision and educational expertise. Students should also have the right of access to the most powerful educational technologies and the right to fair, relevant, and learner-based evaluations. Tese all matter, according to Cookson, because together

they help reconstruct what the promise of a vibrant public school system based on social contract. And this is all made possible by a unified student transportation system. “Te idea of the yellow school bus, to me it really captures

that,” he said in February. “None of this could really happen without the yellow school buses.” Tis is the crux of an argument he will provide to attend-

ees on July 29 during a keynote address at the 21st annual North American School Bus EXPO Conference and Trade Show in Reno, Nev. In his Jan. 8 commentary for Education Week, he wrote that nothing in today’s society better sym- bolizes our nation’s “collective hope and optimism” than the

Cookson understandably stays away from a politically

charged discussion of race and transportation, but he did point out that a certain amount of what he termed “resi- dential segregation,” which was created in many planned communities following World War II and continues to this day, absolutely affects public education in America. While that has nothing to do with school buses, he said, most stu- dents still are afforded a ride to and from school no matter their intellectual capacity, religion, race, gender or sexuality. And students are afforded the opportunity to ride with their peers who also represent all shades of this same spectrum. Tis, again, makes school buses one of the most influ- ential and inclusive tools society has to promote equitably education for all, which, in turn, is a social contract that is the basis for a civil society. “School buses ensure every kid (at least the 25 million or so public students eligible to ride the bus) has a chance to be educated,” he added. “It’s an essential infrastructure ingredi- ent. Tis feeds a larger issue that in general we’ve lost sight of. “When (President Dwight D. Eisenhower) built the nation’s freeway system, it started as a defense measure 59

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