If you rely on News Feed in Facebook to find my posts, you're missing most of them. On average, only 16% of updates in Facebook make it into News Feeds. Let me suggest that you subscribe to me in Facebook, follow me on Twitter (@ccengct), or use an RSS reader.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making the buses run on time

I've had my fair share of standing at a street corner on dark, cold, and rainy mornings wondering if a Wake County school bus would ever show up or not. But the experiences of Wake County parents over the last two weeks is nothing like I ever experienced with my children in the system from 1991 through 2008. One school board member called it the largest operational failure in the system she's observed in 32 years. She's right.

I don't believe this failure arises from recent changes in how students choose or are assigned to schools. Whatever school assignment process was adopted by the school board -- no matter how stormy the politics were, no matter whether the board leans left or leans right -- the administration is responsible for managing the implementation. Clearly they have failed. To me, the question is whether system administrators are competent. By admission of the administration itself, they underestimated the time that it would take to load students on buses and how long it would take drivers to run their routes. If the administration does not know how long it takes to load students onto buses, who does? Guilty of incompetence as charged!

The News & Observer article goes on to say that "transportation staff has been meeting with an outside consultant to review the bus situation." Consultants are not supposed to be used to backfill with basic competence. The only remedy here is to get rid of incompetent administrators and bring in new ones who know what they are doing. Wake County schools comprise the 18th-largest system in the nation, but that means there are 17 other systems to recruit competent administrators from.

When the school board turned over from Democrat to Republican in 2009, a major reason was that centrist voters had lost confidence in the system and the board. Why? Not because of politics, but because of an early release program that was derisively named Wacky Wednesdays. If today's bus problems aren't solved quickly, the school board will turn over again -- and it won't be because of partisan politics.

And in case you've forgotten, Wake County schoolbuses have been in the news before.