Cutting School Bus Driver BenefitsThe school bus...


March 19, 1995

Cutting School Bus Driver Benefits

The school bus contractors, drivers and attendants need to stand together and be heard. Our elected officials are threatening to take away the one benefit we have access to: a modified version of the health care coverage that county employees take for granted. The same policy that some drivers spend half their pay to receive.

After achieving this benefit a couple of years ago, the cash benefit option was reduced without so much as a ripple from our peers. Now, the politicians looking to trim budgets are talking about eliminating the health care all together. And what about one-year bus contracts? The county has negotiated the contractors numb. Even the out-of-county bus owners, which originally solidified the position the county dictated, are now complaining.

The residents and politicians in this county are quick to boast about our school system, which is indeed one of the finest. But, once again, the bus drivers and contractors are being overlooked as the integral part of the education process that they are.

The requirements for contractors and drivers in this county are stringent. They are required to be the top professionals in their field. It's time we all spoke up and reminded everyone -- parents, teachers, school board members and politicians -- that all we ask in return is to be treated fairly. Our responsibilities are awesome.

Diane Fiala


Teen Disrespect

On Feb. 26, an article in The Sun for Howard County discussed teen attitudes toward the police. According to this article, police think that the disrespect teens show them is part of a disrespect for all authority.

I have seen this disrespect for authority repeatedly in the many different schools in which I substitute and it concerns me a great deal. These students are selfish, uncaring people. They talk while I am taking attendance or giving directions, argue with me when I ask them to do something, and make teaching class a difficult job. Students enrolled in honor classes frequently act like this; they seem to think that being smart is an excuse for rudeness. I have been substitute teaching on and off since 1982. It was rare to find a student who was rude to me then.

Students act like this because adults are unwilling to enforce rules and are tolerant of rude behavior. Once, when I substituted at Howard High, I sent two students to the office who were rude to me. I was very pleased with the support I received from Stephen Wallis for what I considered rude behavior.

I think it is very important that rules be enforced so that students know what the limits are. Mr. Wallis is fair, patient and kind. He insists that the students be held accountable for their actions. The fact that Mr. Wallis cares about them, and they know that he cares, is clear by the many students who like and respect him. I am impressed by the thought, time, energy and caring that Mr. Wallis puts into his job as vice principal at Howard High School. Mr. Wallis understands that discipline that is fair and responsible teaches students care and respect for others, including authority.

Laura Waters


Denigrating Others

Kevin Thomas is absolutely correct in his position on the capitalistic cannon in his column on March 5. He writes, "Rather than accept that wealth is not always based on material things, we gauge our position in society by how much we can denigrate others." Most in America have selected someone to look down upon in order to raise their own "self-esteem," although they would never admit it.

But in Mr. Thomas' crusade against the evils of an anti-growth mentality, he has fallen pray to the same kind of denigration. During the last county executive campaign, he never had a good word to say for candidate Susan Gray, attacking her as if she was a Republican. He offered statements such as "Susan Gray has got to be the Oliver North of Howard County politics" and "I have nightmares about politics. This particular one centered on the prospect that . . . Susan B. Gray becomes Howard County executive," and "The Picture of Susan Gray."

These personal references reflect Mr. Thomas' obsession with growth when he goes out of his way to condemn any person simply because of an opposite stance with little in the way of proof that growth is the way to go.

In the March 5 column he writes, "Even with the preservation program, of course, there's a certain inevitability about growth in Howard County. And all the efforts to curtail it can't stop people from seeking their share of the American dream." Apparently, Ms. Gray's dream does not coincide with Mr. Thomas' dream, and, of course, Mr. Thomas' (The Sun's) opinion is more credible.

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