Charging Students Bus Fare in Colorado: Fleecing working familes to pay the wake left by Reaganomics and ‘Free Trade’

The attack on public education is enough to make one sick.  Better put on a pair of huggies or lay down a rubber sheet to read this one, if you have not already done so.

Douglas City, Colorado, home of the recently passed bill tying teacher salaries, jobs, promotions, transfers and assignments to rancid testing regimes has gone one step further.  They will now be charging bus fare for the students who must travel to nearby public schools to get a public education.  Yes, it is true; while the derivative traders ride in limousines and the politicians leave through the back door, crawling in their Mercedes to avoid crowds of disenchanted working people fed up with the destruction of public life and specifically public educational policies aimed at cutting student programs in arts, music, drama, and any and all extra-curricular activities, cash-strapped Douglas County School District in the state of Colorado approved a plan that will charge kids for riding the school bus to get an education.

The price is fifty cents each way, to take effect at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year — and while the fees are unusual at this point, they probably won’t be for long. The Department of Colorado School District director of communications, Susan Meek, stated that there’s hardly been an up-roar over these new charges.  According to Meek:

“We started talking about this in the January time frame. It started with a survey that went out that month. And at that point, we started engaging every school through their school advisory council and our district advisory committee, which works with those counsels. We’ve also been taking questions on our website” (Denver Westward Blogs, May 19, 2010 http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2010/05/school_bus_fees_approved_in_do_1.php#).

This latest disembowelment of education netted approximately fifty e-mails over the course of four months, with some negative, some positive, and some “from people just seeking information about how it would work. Meek noted:

“The response hasn’t been overwhelming” (ibid).

While the public schools literally are stolen by privatizers and the Second Great Depression is born on the backs of working people in the form of budget cuts to basic services and fee hikes it is incredulous that only fifty e-mails would be generated during a four month period of time on an issue such as this.  Just where was the teacher’s union or any public union for that matter?  Didn’t they go on a letter writing campaign, set up at shopping malls, launch a media drive and stand up to the policies that seek to go through our children’s pants for chump change our sofas for loose change?

According to Meek, approximately 56,000 students attend Douglas County schools, with around 17,000 of them riding the bus at least some of the time. The latter group “will have an RFID card — a radio frequency identification card,” she explains (ibid).

This is certainly a coup de’etat for those seeking to not only control physical movement trough hi-tech surveillance but also for those RFD promoters who see the ‘chip’ as the new identification card for the future.  They get to try it out on kids who will pay for the cards.  Companies also like the RFD for its ability to aid and abet in marketing as it tracks all decisions consumers and citizens make.  There are plans to weave the RFD into the US dollar soon through reorienting the printing presses so money can be tracked.  Major retailers already use it to game information from consumers and then advertise directly to them.  Also, the propensity for such use for ‘law enforcement’ is frightening, to say the least, as vans with machinery able to pick up the signals can work from miles away to collect data.  Basically, they are chipping our kids by going through the back door; holding a laser beam on them.

From Meek’s point of view:

“Currently, our secondary students who ride the bus have to have their ID anyway, so it’s just another card. The bus will have a reader on it that tracks the usage when a student is riding the bus, and quarterly bills will be sent out after the fact” (ibid). Smart meters for kids.

Just a technological dietary supplement for the good old fashion identification one has to have anyway, right?

So what happens if parents are sent a bill for bus fare and they don’t pay it?  According to Meeks, No Child will be Left Behind:

“We would never leave a child waiting on the road. We’ll always transport kids, but we’ll remind parents that they’re responsible for paying they’re fees, just like they’re responsible for paying other fees” (ibid).

Really, so then why would I pay the bill and why would the district spend a quarter of a million dollars implementing a policy they cannot enforce?  The answer is that Meeks is either lying or does not know the facts.  Parents will be put on lists, perhaps their credit rating ruined or worse, their children denied access to school due to no transsportation.

Meeks indicated that the particulars of the pay for play educational bus ride will be spelled out in letters being sent to families over the next week. These missives will include “information and registration for families that are eligible for transportation” (ibid).

The idiocy of the policy can only be seen in the cost of implementing the program, which is estimated at $220,000 over a three-year period.  The charge for students to ride the bus is expected to generate $2 million per annum — which will hardly solve Douglas Co.’s budget crisis.  Nor can you believe the assumptions put forth as facts; ‘expected to generate” usually means it won’t.  Especially if, as Meeks says, there is no enforcement ability.

Meeks says the district must cut $43 million for the next school year. Lovely.  Of that total, about $19 million of it can be traced to transportation costs. That amount goes down to $15 million after some expenses are reimbursed by the state. But it’s still far more than the ride fees will cover.  So, the automobile age is rapidly falling apart and students must pay to travel in old smoke belchsing Blue Bird busses to go to the factory for their daily diet of suppositories at the end of the fossil fuel age.

Ah, you’ve got to love these clueless public supplicants who know nothing about education and less about how to run a school district or manage the district affairs.  Shifting the cost of taking the bus to school on to the backs of students and their families is just another example of how the crisis we face is shouldered by working people.  Instead of standing up for students and their parents as well as public education and demanding that Race to the Top monies be distributed to states to be used by cash strapped municipalities in an attempt to ease the hemorrhaging of schools and the costs to working families and their kids, the imbeciles eat around the edges of the problem, whopping off two million here, one million there but of course never really solving or directly confronting the ship wreck that is America.  They are a hapless bunch lacking both practical and theoretical imagination.

Capitalism is a failed system and tax breaks to the rich under Reaganomics, as well as the three trillion dollars in deficit run up under the Alzheimic Reagan-Bush administration, has destroyed major cities and their public school systems.  What is needed is a coordinated national effort to circle the wagons around public education in an effort to protect kids and parents from the ravages that leave painful economic welts birthed by Wall Street and its political enablers.

The problem, of course is that the administrators are either clueless to what has happened to their country, their public institutions and their society or, in the alternative they are on the side of the public decimators.

Soon, the next step will be to charge students to park their backpacks in the classroom (shelf space) or pay to use the exercise equipment for physical education.  Either way, the rich will not pay, the taxes owed by the leisure class will not be collected and the public budget cuts will be more severe if we do not see what is happening to us and how it happened. 

But those in the ruling class and their children do not attend public schools, by and large.  They are dropped off at prestigious private schools in black limousines or by nannies.

If we continue to allow the ruling classes to ‘tread on thee’ then we don’t deserve any form of democracy.  Instead, we will get privatized education, RFD chips for identification and the tracking of our every movement, along with social mobility for our youth and adults on a trajectory aimed straight down – at a forty five degree angle. 

We are not just leaving our children behind in literacy, citizenry education, music, the arts and critical thinking instruction; we are literally leaving them behind at the side of the road.