Keep it Local
Fighting privatization to preserve community connections.
When Jackie McColister cranks open the door to her bus, she knows the children who climb up those stairs. A bus driver for 13 years in Hillsborough County, Fla., “Miss Mac,” as she is known, notices who waits for the kindergartners at each bus stop, and she would never release any of them to a stranger. She recognizes the cliques and outcasts among the middle schoolers, and as a mother of five, she reaches out to her students as if they were her own.
Charles Johnson, a paraprofessional security adviser and mentor at North Dallas High School in Texas, has taken 38 homeless teens into his own home during his career. And at North Eugene High School in Oregon, head custodian June Blackwell cries every year at graduation because she’s helped raise “her” students since ninth grade. She gives them bus fare when they ask, scolds them when they forget their manners, and lends an ear when they need it. “I love my kids,” she says.
These personal connections are not uncommon: Our schools are built on the bus driver who distributes free books to her students, the secretary or cafeteria worker who gently disciplines a rowdy teen, and the teacher’s aide who becomes a confidant to a troubled student. They are just a few of the many reasons why privatizing school transportation, custodial services, food services and security is a bad idea. But there are plenty more.