In New York City, the school bus drivers have been on strike for three weeks. This leaves parents struggling to find ways to get their child to and from school without the use of the busses. It also forces children with special needs out of the routine they rely on. The strike will have a negative impact on the students who require the most help.
The school bus strike in New York City is now in its third week. According to a Department of Education spokesperson, there are a total of 7,700 school bus routes, citywide. On Thursday, January 31, 2013, only 2,860 bus routes were running.
Only 38% of the busses that pick up students who are in the Special Education program were in operation. Those busses serve 54,000 students who have special needs (7,000 of which are autistic). How is this affecting students? Here are some insightful observations:
Kim Mack Rosenberg is the president of the New York Metro Chapter of the National Autism Association. She noted that some parents were having to take time off of work in order to make trips to and from schools. She said:
Many of these children thrive on routine, and they need that routine in order to be successful learners.
Sal Ferrera is the executive director at The Child School. He said that attendance is down and that some of the student cannot make it to class at all. He said:
We have about 80% attendance, where we normally have 90-plus.
New York city has taken some steps to try and help parents who have been affected by the school bus strike. They are giving regular bus updates. They are offering free MetroCards at schools for both parents and children. They are offering reimbursements for transportation costs. The schools are also providing learning materials online, where it can be accessed by students who are unable to get to school.
Sara Catalinotto is a co-founder of Parents to Improve School Transportation. She is also the mother of a ten year old child who has autism. She feels that those efforts are inadequate. She said:
It’s insulting. MetroCards for 8-year-olds, telling people to get a cab who probably can’t lay out for one. Online teaching isn’t adequate for may children, especially those with learning disabilities.
Image by Alex Star on Twitter