This week, California Governor Jerry Brown announced plans to slash the state's budget, including drastic cuts to education funding. According to Forbes, Brown plans to eliminate all state funding for school busing, leaving individual school districts to pay for their own transportation. The shocking cuts will be instituted on January 1, 2012, leaving school districts with less than one month to scramble toward a resolution.
According to KTVU.com, the school bus cuts will make California the first state in the U.S. to end all state funding for school transportation.
Understandably, proponents disagree with Brown's decisions, and for good reason. Reliable, safe school bus transportation has been a staple in American society for decades, and is something many parents have grown accustomed to. Without state-financed busing, local schools must make their own cuts to fund any continued service. If unable, parents must find their own safe transportation.
Undoubtedly, numerous layoffs for school bus drivers, mechanics and supervisors will take place. Additionally, schools have only a few weeks to make necessary adjustments.
Despite the shocking nature of the school bus funding cuts, it does seem as if this is a step in the right direction for California, as well as other states across the U.S., by example.
Like nearly every state across the nation, California is in extreme debt. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Governor Brown stated he had no choice but to make these drastic cuts because state revenue was falling $2 billion lower than projected. And somewhere, ends have to be met.
Why is this a step in the right direction?
1. California should not be paying for local busing in the first place. Local communities must become financially responsible. If a district cannot afford school bus transportation, then the state shouldn't pick up the slack. Funds must be raised locally, or parents must find their own transportation.
2. States must live within their means. Whether it's California, Ohio, Florida, or any other state, each state must learn to spend no more than they bring in. This may include cutting social, economic and educational services; so be it. This is a lesson Californians should have learned long ago, before the housing crisis.
3. Our attitudes must change. Change is inevitable within this economy, and we must learn to let go of the way things used to be. The San Francisco Chronicle explained how Governor Brown gave Californians the option of higher taxes or cuts in education and safety services, and citizens wanted neither. It doesn't work like this; something has to go, and we have to accept change in order to move forward in this economy.
The fact that school bus transportation is being cut state-wide is devastating for those local school districts that cannot find the money to continue service. However, because of the guaranteed local accountability that will follow, and the required change in attitude, this might be a step in the right direction after all.
Becca Swanson is a licensed visual arts teacher with a B.A. in Art Education. She has taught students from pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.