It is said that all politics is local. While the issue with the bus routes in Barrow County is not a political one, it brought out parents to be involved to express their dislike for the way the issue was handled. There are several lessons to be learned from this episode as school started back for another year.
The first lesson is the need for an evaluation of the way decisions are communicated from the BOE to the public. Many, not all, people have computers. Having a website is one way of getting a message out to the people. Many, but not all, people have cell phones capable to receive text messages. E-mail has almost taken a backseat to the ever-advancing upgrades in technology. At some point in the process it would be good for the BOE to look into how they can use social media, along with text messaging and other Internet venues to let the larger number of people know the decisions affecting the children.
Secondly, parents and caretakers need to shoulder major responsibility in staying informed about what is taking place with any changes to the system related to the transportation and the education of their children. This might be easier said than done because so many parents are involved with work and other activities that it is hard to stay engaged at every level when it comes to keeping up with all the details related to their child.
It was reported that the meeting room of the BOE was filled with parents for a meeting of the Board of Education once word got out about the changes in the bus routes. It could well be that every time the BOE meets the room should be filled with interested citizens. One parent said to me, “That is why we have elections, and select people we trust to make the right decisions.” However, that argument falls apart at some point because with the highest level of trust invested in other people, often they will let us down when it comes to decisions they make. The decisions made by all the members of the BOE do not always reflect full agreement by all the citizens. Being present for a meeting, hearing the discussions in the public forum would allow for a better understanding on the part of people who are present in the room at the time of the discussion and vote.
Issues have a way of taking on a life of their own, with rumors being spread as to what someone has said, or who will benefit the most from the way certain decisions are made. The important lesson learned from this event should be that each person needs to stay alert to know what is taking place not only at the BOE meetings, but also in the school where the education process is taking place. From where I stand, I hope the BOE and parents have learned valuable lessons from this episode.
What lessons did you learn from this episode of changes in bus routes in Barrow County? Tell us in comments.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter — @RayNewmanSr.