This article is excerpted from LiberatED, a weekly email newsletter where FEE Senior Education Fellow Kerry McDonald brings you news and analysis on current education and parenting topics. Click here to sign up.
As the new academic year begins, a school bus driver shortage has impacted students and families all across the country. According to The Wall Street Journal, many school bus drivers quit over virus concerns or new COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Districts have been scrambling to hire new bus drivers, including offering generous perks and bonuses, but these efforts aren’t making much of a dent in attracting new employees.
Here in Massachusetts, the school bus driver situation is so bad that this week the governor called up the National Guard to drive school buses in some of the state’s urban areas that are experiencing the worst driver shortages. Currently, 90 National Guard troops are being trained as school bus drivers in the state, with up to 250 troops involved in the overall mission.
The school bus driver shortage has caused major disruptions to the start of the school year. Pittsburgh Public Schools had to push back their first day of school by two weeks due to the driver shortage, while high school students in Rochester, New York had to begin the year remotely due to the lack of bus drivers.
Some school districts are actually paying parents to drive their own children to school.
Vaccine mandates have been a key factor in the school bus driver shortage. In Chicago, more than 70 school bus drivers quit just before the school year began as a result of the district’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees.
Indeed, new COVID-19 vaccine mandates are causing workers in many fields to quit their jobs. My colleague Jon Miltimore wrote this week about one hospital in upstate New York that had so many nurses quit over the vaccine mandate, it announced it will have to stop delivering babies this month. This nursing shortage mirrors others nationwide where nurses and other medical staff have quit or been fired over vaccine mandates.
As President Biden attempts to interfere with the private sector by ordering all companies with 100 or more employees to require vaccination or frequent testing, the labor shortage in many sectors is likely to get even worse.
As for parents, the school bus driver shortage is just the latest example of how government schooling is failing many students and families. During the coronavirus response, parents have seen first-hand how school districts have pandered to powerful teachers unions, been unresponsive to parent demands, and implemented ideologically-driven curriculum and school policies.
There are many reasons why parents fled district schools over the past 18 months for homeschooling and other private education options. Soldiers driving school buses might now be another one.
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