TV on SCHOOL BUSES? Why Not Just Set Up A Deep-Fryer & Throw Kids’ Brains In?

Hi hneifyhzda
Readers — Here’s a post from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood about School Bus TV. The idea of kids being force-fed even MORE screen time just nauseates me. Fortunately, Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign, articulates the arguments against bus TV far better than my fake retching sounds. He also references his group’s successful 4-year fight against BusRadio, an equally appalling idea to pipe in radio — and ads —  to moppets riding the bus to school. —  L.


Haven’t we been down this road before? A few years ago, it was BusRadio promising to make school buses safer and calmer with its student-targeted radio broadcasts. Now it’s television that marketers claim will soothe the beast. From theDallas Morning News:

Television can be a ready baby sitter in the living room, but will it work on school buses?

The Garland school district is experimenting with playing educational videos on a school bus to help cut discipline problems.

For $1,500 per bus, Carrollton-based AdComp Systems installs a 26-inch flat screen TV at the front of the bus. The screen plays videos supplied by NASA, the Discovery network, History Channel and others.

The similarities between BusRadio – which closed its doors last September after a four-year campaign by CCFC and Obligation, Inc. – and Bus-Ed-Safe-TV (BEST) are striking. Like BusRadio, BEST is claiming it will improve student behavior and touting its plan to air safety messages and PSAs in its pitch to school districts, while downplaying its commercial content. The Dallas Morning News is even reporting that BEST will have no commercials.

Even if that were true, it’s still a terrible idea. At some point we’re going to need to stand up to the flat-screen invasion and the ubiquitous blaring TVs that compete for our attention and with our conversations at seemingly every turn. Since children 8-18 already spend 7.5 hours a day with media and excessive screen time is linked to poor school performance, keeping televisions off of school buses might be a good place to start.

And just as with BusRadio – which once boasted on its website for advertisers that it would “take targeted student marketing to the next level” – it’s clear the underlying purpose of BEST is to deliver a captive audience of students to advertisers. The BEST website includes a section of “ideal partnerships” which include “targeted content partners” and “commercial sponsorships.”

As for the claim there will be no commercials, the website says only that BEST won’t run “Direct commercial ads that parents can object to and are not good for kids” or air violence or sexually explicit material. That’s not setting the bar very high.

As we learned with BusRadio, it’s not just the content that parents object to – it’s the very business model of forcing children to consume media and marketing on a school bus. Before the BEST team proceeds any further, they should do their homework. They could start with the more than 1,000 comments that parents submitted to the FCC in opposition to BusRadio, or by reading how parents in Louisville, Montgomery County, and cities and towns around the country organized to keep the company out of their school districts. Because if BEST, like its failed predecessor, underestimates parents’ determination to keep their school buses commercial-free, it’s sure to be the next BusRadio. — J.G.


82 Responses to TV on SCHOOL BUSES? Why Not Just Set Up A Deep-Fryer & Throw Kids’ Brains In?

  1. Stephanie - Home with the Kids June 26, 2010 at 4:15 am #

    That is a pretty low bar for commercialization. While I admit to a fondness for the Discovery Channel and such, kids don’t need television available to them at all times or in all places. Let them socialize with their friends!

  2. Becky June 26, 2010 at 4:20 am #

    I hate this idea! I enjoy tv just like the rest of the world (though prob. not as much as many people), but I’m already sick of how we can’t escape it anywhere! When I was 10 I took the yellow bus to school. It was about an hour long trip each way and I loved that time! It was a long bus ride, yes, but I was so creative during that time. I wont go into details and expose what a nerd I am but I imagined my bus seat to be a limo, a winter cabin, and a space ship. I got lost in these worlds. I also did so much reading, and even last minute cramming. How terrible that we’re slowing removing any opportunity for brain activity in our children.

  3. Gina June 26, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    $1500 per bus… awesome use of tax dollars.

  4. helenquine June 26, 2010 at 4:42 am #

    I’m not particularly against screen time while traveling, seems like one of the best times to get that activity in. But only if the person watching has actually chosen to watch and is watching something they want (rather than watching because the screen is flickering in front of them). And the low bar for commercialization is just unethical in a situation like this.

  5. Emily June 26, 2010 at 4:49 am #

    The CCFC is great. I can’t believe schools would be considering putting in TVs on busses, commercials or not. Then they’ll probably be wondering why all these kids are having a hard time focusing at school. Hmm!

  6. Mary Margaret Thomas June 26, 2010 at 4:56 am #

    I don’t know where to post this, but I’d like to pose a question to youall: Do you find that you are a stricter parent because you are free range? I realize that others view free-range as a form of parental leniency but are you stricter with your children at home concerning, obedience, courtesy, respect, manners, etc… I find that DH and I are. I just want responsibility and courtesy to be so ingrained in DD that it occurs even when we aren’t around. Any thoughts?

  7. coffeegod June 26, 2010 at 5:06 am #

    I have a tough enough time prying my 8 year old from the electronic nipple. Putting tv on the bus? Puhleeeese!

    To Mary Margaret: I’m as free range as they come and my kid ma’ams and sirs all his elders, can write a thank you note and says thank you without prodding. I believe you are correct!

  8. Vanessa June 26, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    I don’t agree with TVs on school buses either, but I do have fond memories of listening to the radio on my school bus in fifth and sixth grade. Our bus driver would put on the Mighty 690 (local SoCal radio station in the very early 80s), and we would listen all the way to school. I’m sure there were commercials, but all I remember are the songs – that was my first exposure to bands like Duran Duran and the Police. Good times.

  9. BrianJ June 26, 2010 at 5:13 am #

    coffeegod – I aspire to that level of child politeness. Thanks for putting it out there.

    Mary Margaret – I will say that I am significantly stricter than many of the parents that I see in my town. Especially when it comes to chores, showing respect to parents and other adults.

    You can’t let your kids run around unsupervised if you aren’t sure that they know how to behave. As a parent, you can never be sure that they will behave, but at least you can know that they know how.

  10. Bernadette Noll June 26, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    On a recent 3rd grade field trip to the zoo, the bus ride was COMPLETELY quiet. Why? Because the teacher had brought along videos for the kids to watch on the way to and fro. No singing, no games, no interacting, just sitting there dumb, watching the television. Sad, sad, sad. I tried to start a round of 99 bottles of beer but it didn’t take ; )

  11. Nicola June 26, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    @Mary Margaret: I find that I demand much more respect than many of the other parents who helicopter. I believe it’s because even though you have parents hovering, they don’t actually know what to do with their children. I’ve watched these people get back-talk from their kids, these same kids not bother to say please or thank you – I find that just by the fact I know my children will be interacting with others and they are out in the neighborhood and with others, they have to act responsible and respectful to others in society. That’s my take, anyway. Hoverers do everything for their kids, right down to saying thank you *for* them. So, strict… maybe you could say so, if teaching basic manners and responsibility for yourself is strict.

    Regarding this post… I remember listening to AM radio on the bus to school (because there were no FM radios on busses then), and it wasn’t too detrimental because I listened to much of the same music in the car with my father and his girlfriend. I have a problem in general with TV in cars and such, just because it blocks out more of life around these kids (who generally don’t get much life since they’re hovered over all the time anyway by fear-mongering parents), and they miss so much that passes them by. Sure, kids on a bus are loud and obnoxious – and back when, we also learned which bus drivers would let us get away with more and the others who were slightly on the crazy side and we’d sit quietly for, lol – but that’s a fond memory for me – interacting with friends to and from school. We’re sucking life out of our children and don’t even care to notice it. Good for the parents who AREN’T allowing this to happen.

  12. Kim June 26, 2010 at 5:42 am #

    I don’t know. I’m not totally against this. Really. I’ve been on school buses that were very unsafe because the kids were screaming, throwing things and fighting. If this makes it safer and they are showing educational tv, I don’t have a problem with it. Ideally, the kids would be talking to each other quietly or reading a book so as not to disturb the driver, but that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore.

  13. John Powell June 26, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    Gaah. Why this even needs to be discussed disgusts me.

  14. pentamom June 26, 2010 at 6:06 am #

    I agree with the idea that Free Range makes us more “demanding” of our kids (in good ways.) It’s definitely the helicopter types that let their kids interrupt constantly and so forth, because it goes with the whole idea of child incompetence — they can’t be responsible for either their own safety OR their own behavior. Mommy has to drop everything to “help” them with every issue and of course Snowflake can’t wait 30 seconds for a polite opening.

  15. Bill Seitz June 26, 2010 at 6:13 am #

    They can play NPR and catch up on their sleep!

    (Alt: WiFi on SchoolBus.)

  16. Donna June 26, 2010 at 6:14 am #

    I agree that free range parents are more demanding of their kids. I wonder if this is because we, in general, have a more old school mentality towards childhood and child-rearing. My childhood may have been filled with free range roaming but it was also filled with more responsibility, respect and discipline than I see in kids today.

    As for the TVs – NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!!

  17. Library Diva June 26, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    There are too many screens everywhere. Ever take JetBlue? The TV in the seatback is almost impossible to turn off, and it turns back on automatically at takeoff and landing. If you have a short flight, you’re better off just dealing with it annoying you.

    I don’t think this is a good idea on school buses. Sure, it’ll make kids ‘behave.’ But at what cost? Kids need to practice behaving somehow, without an electronic babysitter to ensure their compliance.

  18. Daniel DuBois June 26, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    I’m pretty much a huge FRK fanboi, but of all the egregious things I’ve seen on this site, this might be the least egregious. Disciplining while driving is very hard, and I’d rather the driver not be saddled with so much of the former while doing the latter.

    Also, I wouldn’t mind my kids watching the Discovery/History channel more than they do. It beats Spongebob or Super Mario.

    And doing it while commuting… well, speaking from experience, that’s the perfect time to do it. I take the bus to the office everyday, and I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to catch up on a variety of media I have queued up (magazines, training videos, podcasts, books, etc.).

  19. Sky June 26, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    “Television can be a ready baby sitter in the living room, but will it work on school buses.”

    It doesn’t even work in the living room. You ever put 20 kids in front of the TV in the living room and see what happens?

  20. BrianJ June 26, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    My kids are going to be on the school bus next year for a 20 minute or so ride. This would make my teeth itch if it were coming to our busses. Kids need some unplugged time. They will be bored at first, then they will use the time constructively, or not. The last thing they need is being sucked into the TV for more time during the day. Because if the TV is going, none of them will be able to resist paying attention to it.

    If there are discipline problems on the bus, deal with those issues. Drugging all of the kids with TV because some don’t control their behavior does not seem like the right answer.

  21. Silver Fang June 26, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    If they want to keep kids quiet on the bus, they should just let the kids bring their MP3 players or cell phones on and stay entertained that way, instead of force-feeding them ads and propaganda.

  22. Andi June 26, 2010 at 7:14 am #


  23. kherbert June 26, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    If they have such behavioral problems on the busses, the money would be better spent hiring someone to ride the bus and be responsible for maintaining general order. Not micro managing the kids but being able to respond to dangerous behavior.

    Honestly as a teacher I think being a bus driver must be one of the hardest jobs in education. But I HATE driving in Houston traffic.

  24. pentamom June 26, 2010 at 7:49 am #

    Sky — brilliant.

  25. kherbert June 26, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    Sky is right. That many kids is a problem. Also this is one screen at the front of the bus. that means chorus of I can’t see. One long distance field trip (4 hours 1 way hey we are in Texas I can drive 12 hours and not leave the state), we allowed videos. That was a charter bus and it had flip down screens for each seat or every two seats. The teachers had a schedule there was time for a video, time for talking, and the kids could have electronics if they had them. Many of our kids live hand to mouth, so no extras like DS’s for them.

    On the way back (same day) most of the kids slept anyways. (The trip was to Natural Bridge caverns. In addition to the hike through the caverns we played outside for about 2 hours.

    I was a daily sub in a school one time. This meant I was at the school every day. Sometimes I would sub all day in one class.

    This was a rural school that shared special ed specialists with several other districts. So they would block schedule ARDs all day long several times a year to have all the people present. I would sub while a teacher went to the ARD. When the teacher came back s/he would give me the name of the next teacher.

    The first few times I did a day like this, the teachers were told to have a video ready for me to use. YIKES that was hell. I ended up telling the principal I could go in and do the lessons planned, or I could do some type of enrichment but I did not want to do another day of videos. In addition to the discipline problems, I hate Disney type cartoons with a purple passion. Then there was the 6th grade science class with a video on light. Good, on topic, not a cartoon – except there was a strobe light experiment. And 4 kids in the class with seizure disorders. Thank God an aide walked in when she did.

  26. farrarwilliams June 26, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    Like others, I don’t hate this. It’s not terribly different from how I let my kids watch DVDs on long trips to help us all get there with our sanity intact. As a kid, I had an hour+ bus ride on an overcrowded bus that was too noisy to read on and no friends. TV might have helped those dreaded 2 and a half hours every day.

    But I get the arguments against it. I mean, does every little minute have to have media programming? And when are kids supposed to make friends and have normal interactions? Cause apparently not at programmed recess.

    But the thing that bothers me the most, by far, is the cost. What a complete waste. If a school district has this kind of money to burn, please tell me they have a library that hasn’t been severely cut, an orchestra, an arts program, a chorus, a stellar P.E. program for all kids, reading specialists, small class sizes, school lunches that would make Jamie Oliver proud, a decent field trip budget… Well, I could go on, but we all know there’s no such schools.

  27. Nicolas June 26, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    They might accidentally learn something watching TV on the busses; which is more than can be said for their experiences in the the typical public school classrooms.

  28. Susan2 June 26, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    The cost of the TV might actually be a savings if it is being used to maintain order. One $1,500 TV vs. the wage of a bus monitor. Plus, the TV would probably last several years.

  29. Mae Mae June 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    The cost alone is enough to make me against it. Do people remember how little time is available in schools for actual “socializing” with friends? The bus ride or the walk home was my guaranteed, uninterrupted time with my friends and got me through the long school day. Let them talk to each other and interact. Let them be kids. Burn some energy before going to sit in a desk for 6 hours.

    Besides, how many kids are going to be engrossed in a movie on Helen Keller at 8am, surrounded by friends, and knowing they are on their way to sit and listen to their teachers all day. I think the only way this will keep order is if you have the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon on.

    Bad idea all around, IMO.

  30. Linda Wightman June 26, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    My gagging sounds aren’t fake. Then again, I also deplore minivans with DVD players, and kids glued to their personal DVD players (and iPods) everywhere. When do they learn to use their own brains? Some of our kids’ most creative time was on long car trips.

    I happily let our children drive to high school rather than take the bus, not only because the bus did not accommodate after school activities, but also because they found the unavoidable radio on the bus too loud and the music too objectionable.

    If there are discipline problems on the bus, deal with them as discipline problems. Using TV or radio to mask them is like the old practice of giving laudanum to crying babies.

  31. SKL June 26, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    My biggest problem with this is that it’s very likely to be used for a periodic Obama / liberal infomercial AKA propoganda, which should never be forced into our kids, but especially not when they are a captive audience outside of school hours.

    My other problems with it:

    – Kids already get too much TV.
    – TV monopolizes or disengages parts of the brain that kids need to exercise, and teaches the brain NOT to focus on anything for any period of time. (It sucks their brains out, I like to say.)
    – Some kids get car sick unless they look out the window.
    – The cost – our tax dollars – the opportunity cost (how about a reading tutor instead?).
    – Kids are more than spoiled enough.
    – This could be a disincentive for kids who might otherwise walk to school.
    – Etc.

    For problems on the school bus, I ask – how come it wasn’t that bad when I was a kid? They threw kids off the bus if they acted up; and the kids’ parents whupped their butts and/or made them walk to school, thus incenting kids to engage their brains before they decide to do something like that again. We are way too soft on kids nowadays. The result is that instead of an occasional whack on their bottom, they go through far more brutal experiences when they have a chance to get at each other’s throat.

    Yesterday I was thinking about the “bullying” discussion on another thread and I thought, if the bleeding hearts would let adults “bully” kids like they used to, there would be more camaraderie among the kids instead of this constant need to hurt each other. I’m not really talking about adults “bullying,” but I believe in real, memorable consequences, and not just after the 4th offense. Not “zero tolerance,” but empowering adult caregivers to choose discipline outside of the very narrow range of choices they have today. I truly believe our kids would be safer.

  32. SKL June 26, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    About the question of “are free-range parents stricter.” I would say yes, in some respects, no in others.

    I am pretty old-fashioned and I have high expectations of my kids relative to the “modern wisdom” of what can be expected of them. For example, my kids knew which cupboards they were/weren’t allowed into long before they could walk. I was strict about the handful of basic but important safety rules we had when they were babies/toddlers. I also don’t tolerate a lot of noisy complaining and I will punish if my kids decide to blatantly ignore me.

    On the other hand, I like to sit back and watch and let a situation develop (within broad boundaries) before I step in and take control of it. I don’t like to use the militant “do this because I said so” (though I do sometimes). If I say “let’s do A” and they give me a rationale for doing B instead, I’ll consider allowing B even though technically that is not “obedience.” However, I do try to ensure they deal with the natural consequences of bad decisions. If they ask for something they don’t need, rather than say “no,” I’ll tell them what they need to do to earn that – whether it’s an age cutoff or an amount of yardwork to save up for a “thing” or whatever. If I want them to develop a habit (such as keeping their room clean), I will give reminders and suggestions more often than orders, because I want them to develop awareness of the need to clean up, rather than having to tell them what to do all the time.

    I’m still working on politeness. I do think it’s very important that kids learn how to politely interact when away from their parents. If they don’t have the verbal ability and presence of mind to say “please” and “thank you,” how can I be confident that they will know when and how to approach an adult to request needed help or to conduct a successful transaction?

  33. helenquine June 26, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    SKL – “Yesterday I was thinking about the “bullying” discussion on another thread and I thought, if the bleeding hearts would let adults “bully” kids like they used to, there would be more camaraderie among the kids instead of this constant need to hurt each other.”

    I grew up in a culture that expected kids to be spanked when they were caught, and there was at least as much bullying as there is today. Spanking works for some but it’s ineffective in other households and there are plenty of households that manage very well without it.

    The tales my father tells of his youth make me roll my eyes at the comments I hear lamenting childhood misbehavior today. Burgess’ Clockwork Orange was exaggerated but it was based on a real phenomenon. Kids might be less inclined to obeying their elders in public, and forms of address are more informal today but there was no golden age. The misbehavior was just different.

  34. Donna June 26, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    @ SKL – That is by far the most ridiculous reason for lack of TV in buses as I’ve ever read. I guess since every president over the last 20 years has given school speeches and visited schools, they are equally as likely to shove “propoganda” down our children’s throats on Bus TV. Since I don’t believe that my child is a non-thinking machine who will agree with everything told to her, I’m not particularly opposed to conservatives speaking at my child’s school (I’m opposed to TVs on buses altogether). It gives me an avenue to discuss their beliefs and for me to explain why I believe them to be so utterly and completely wrong and dangerous. The choice of what to believe is ultimately up to her. It’ll be difficult but I’ll love her even if she chooses to vote republican one day.

  35. Laura June 26, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Heaven forbid the children actually look OUTSIDE and see the world going by as they’re going to school! Heaven forbid the children be allowed to let their brains simply rest and wander, undirected except by the things that the senses take in. Heaven forbid the kids be allowed to… gasp!!… DAYDREAM.

    And for the record, I don’t have a DVD player in my car, my kid doesn’t have a DS, and he watches less than 5 hours of TV per WEEK.

    I’m sure school districts can find a MUCH better use of $1500 than putting a big-screen on a school bus that will be broken before the school year is out. And if the bus driver can’t keep order on the bus, perhaps he should find another job… this is coming from a mom who sends her child on a bus to and from school. His driver not only keeps order, but takes the kids to DQ at the end of the year because they behave so well. It can be done.

  36. SKL June 27, 2010 at 12:29 am #

    Helenquine, I do not believe school buses were ever as quiet as hearses, but there is no question they have gotten more out of hand in recent years than ever. Certainly not “all” school buses, but the “bad” ones are a completely different degree of “bad.” If they are bad enough that the mass hypnosis of television is considered necessary, then there is a problem. When in our youth was there ever a suggestion that a TV was needed to keep us under control? What’s next – mass lobotomies?

  37. SKL June 27, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    LOL, Donna, glad to see you are passionate in your beliefs! I said “liberal” not because Obama is president but because the teachers’ unions overwhelmingly support liberal candidates and agendas. That’s simply a fact, regardless of which way you vote. I don’t mind my kid seeing a speech by any president, particularly if I am informed so I can provide my take on it. However, there is always an agenda behind the selection of media for schoolkids, and it is generally subtle. We don’t need any more of that.

  38. SKL June 27, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    And Helenquine, I did not say and do not believe that spanking is best for all kids or all problems. But the near banning of spanking as a potential alternative has had negative results. Besides that (and I was tempted to put this in my initial comment), parents too often choose to take their kids’ side rather than discipline. The combination of these factors is why you have so many kids now smacking classmates and teachers around and then declaring “you can’t touch me, bitch, or I’ll see your ass in court.” Starting in KG!

    Makes me wonder, sometimes, why we even bother keeping troublemakers in school if they so vehemently don’t want to be there and insist on dragging everyone else down with them. Might as well give them a job spreading manure on the community flowerbeds and separating the recycle trash. If it were my kid acting like that, that’s exactly how I’d want her to spend the next month or so.

  39. Marin June 27, 2010 at 1:29 am #

    Tv on buses? Oh dear, not that cacophony. Oddly, one of my favorite places is the school bus. You can zone out, generally be comfortable, think, listen to a new album, and sometimes it’s quiet, or sometimes you can talk to your friends.

    A few years ago I took a school bus every day that had a tv screen that played MTV or something– essentially, the same terrible 6 songs blared every day, plus glitzy famous people dancing around. When the TV was off, the bus driver would instead play the pop radio station, which was just as bad (same 6 songs + advertisement + listening to the-dumbest-pundits-ever-attempt-to-talk-about-politics). Couldn’t listen to my own music, couldn’t relax– it drove me absolutely nuts.

    That said, the buses I’ve taken have either been dead quiet (my personal favorite), or rowdy in the back with the kids (to be expected, and still relaxing). I’ve never had to experience a ‘truly bad’ bus route. However, what I don’t know is what a ‘bad bus route’ entails. What are the actual issues on buses?

  40. Uly June 27, 2010 at 1:46 am #

    The combination of these factors is why you have so many kids now smacking classmates and teachers around and then declaring “you can’t touch me, bitch, or I’ll see your ass in court.” Starting in KG!

    Have you ever actually seen this happening? I haven’t, nor have I heard of it happening in real life (as compared to in absurd little “This is why spanking is good!” rants online).

    Makes me wonder, sometimes, why we even bother keeping troublemakers in school if they so vehemently don’t want to be there and insist on dragging everyone else down with them.

    Now THIS I can agree with. There’s no sense in forcing kids to stay in school until they’re 18. If they don’t want to be there, they should be put into a vocational program or directly into a job.

    The problem is that degrees are becoming more and more devalued. A job you could once get with an 8th grade diploma required first a high school diploma, then some college, and now a college diploma. Making people wait that long to enter the adult world is absurd!

    What we really need is for people to sit down and look, really LOOK at what is needed to do various jobs – and then require just that.

  41. SKL June 27, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    Uly, yes, unfortunately I have seen this kind of behavior when I have done volunteer work in inner-city schools. With very young kids.

  42. Marin June 27, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    Also, let me just say: even educational video simply isn’t that interesting or informative half the time, unless it’s specific to what you’re choosing for yourself to watch.

    I have a lot of video series on my computer– it might be a lecture about something, or a series of videos explaining how to do x better, or explaining a scientific phenomenon. I used to think, ‘Well hey, if I watch one of these videos every day I figure I’ll learn something.”

    But as many as I’ve watched, it certainly has not been my experence– it’s largely disconnected from what one usually learns/knows already, so it’s largely disconnected from purpose/real life, unless it is individually chosen. It’s hard to use information you learn in an educational video unless you already need it, or already have some ideas in your head from school that make you look for a topic.

    Also, @SKG:
    “Makes me wonder, sometimes, why we even bother keeping troublemakers in school if they so vehemently don’t want to be there and insist on dragging everyone else down with them.”

    This sort of makes me cringe, although I don’t disagree with the idea of discipline itself. I think we may be attacking a stereotype here. As one with many-a troublemaking friends– who exactly are you referring to? What types of students? What types of problems do they cause that affect others?

    “LOL, Donna, glad to see you are passionate in your beliefs! I said “liberal” not because Obama is president but because the teachers’ unions overwhelmingly support liberal candidates and agendas. That’s simply a fact, regardless of which way you vote.”

    First of all, I don’t think the teacher’s unions are the ones who decide what happens in a classroom. That is not their concern. Usually it’s the administration coupled with individual teachers’ choices (and sometimes it’s mostly the administration/school board). Wasn’t it the president who wanted schoolchildren to watch his speech? And haven’t many in the past? Where do teacher’s unions even fit in here?

    While yes, media selection is often done for subtle reasons, positing the idea unions are the root of it seems pretty dubious. If anything, I think it has to do with teachers’ individual bias coupled with what the administration allows– and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The majority of the time, students can guess their teacher’s bias after a while– they’re not quite so passive– so I think it could easily be a good learning opportunity.

  43. Marin June 27, 2010 at 1:58 am #

    Nevermind, I see what you meant by taking troublemaking kids out of school. I thought you were saying something else entirely. The discussion you’re having with Uly about putting them in a job if they’d be happier I think is really good. I think most kids who are disaffected with school would simply prefer this sort of treatment because they want to be on their own.

  44. Sky June 27, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    I definitely agree that we encourage too much education, too long, for too many children, when many should be placed on vocational tracks or begin working instead. This push (everyone should go to high school until 18 and everyone should go to college!) continues to devalue degrees more and more. It would be nice to see more certification tests administered as a means of evaluation for job entry rather than having a degree expectation, nice to see more apprenticeships beginning at age 15, 16, 17. I don’t see the country moving in that direction though. Just pushing more and more and more to keep kids in school longer and longer and longer, regardless of their desire to learn or be there. Work is discouraged more and more at younger and younger ages (no more paper routes – professional truck delivery now; parents terrified of the idea of a 13 year old babysitter; a move to pass a law not allowing full driver’s licenses until the age of 18, etc.) It’s all part of the extention of childhood.

  45. Sky June 27, 2010 at 4:43 am #

    SKL, what you are describing (inner city kids) is a small sector of the population, and is in no way the norm for behavior for school kids. I have done volunteer work with such children too, and have seen this kind of behavior you describe — and that was over ten years ago. This behavior was not so much the result of a lack of discipline (and certainly not a lack of spanking, as many more inner-city kids are spanked much more often than in the general population), but of very erratic parenting, inconsisten discipline, abseentee fathers, peer culture, media influence, etc. I am not opposed to spanking in all cases, but spanking is no solution to the problem you describe. Love, consistency, the inculcation of a sense of both shame and self-respect, and higher standards and expectations for behavior is what those kids need. How you get it to them I don’t know. We did what little we could in after school programs. What the schools are doing, I don’t know. They tolerated things we didn’t tolerate in the after school program, but our program, being private and religious, also had more flexibility and perhaps more commitment. Inner-city public schools are often run-down and, in some areas (like D.C.), downright corrupt. Vouchers to get these kids into private schools where uniforms are required, more is expected of them, and expulsion is a real threat wouldn’t be a bad start.

  46. kherbert June 27, 2010 at 5:19 am #

    The reason you don’t see more vocational tracks in the US, is that they were used as an effort to continue segregation. Minority students were automatically put on vocational rather than University bound tracks with no justification as to what was really best for the student.

    The system would have to be rebuilt from the ground up and win the trust of those that remember how the old one was abused. To much trouble for quick fix politicians, unless we light a bonfire underneath them.

    I have family in other countries and have seen what a good vocational track system can do for students with different interests.

    To those griping here have you done something about this in your community. Do you advocate for this at your school board? Are you hounding your federal representative and senators to stick as stake in NCLB burn it to ash?

    Yes I do these things.

  47. SKL June 27, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Putting aside “spanking” for a moment, let’s look at some examples where schools and teachers recently got in big trouble over discipline of young children involving touching. One child was held down (NOT hit or hurt) by the principal to stop him from hitting other kids and his teacher. Hearing the outrage of the parents and many bleeding-hearts, you would have thought he’d been flogged and hanged. You hear of kids being tied, taped, or having a snip of hair cut off by teachers who are thoroughly frustrated by the lack of effective options available to them. I recall one relatively sane mom on an internet forum having a hissy because her child had been subject to what she called “physical punishment” in KG. The punishment was having to walk next to the fence for a certain period of time at recess. She believed that teachers should only use “positive” discipline, and that a good teacher would never have to resort to punishment of any kind. Some of the commenters said they didn’t even believe in time outs in school, because not being allowed to go where you want to go is physical restraint. Now, I don’t doubt that there are wonderful teachers who rarely have to get negative on kids. I had one like that for 2nd grade – though I did manage to get recess taken away once even by him. But it’s unrealistic to expect that every teacher is going to have the training, guidance, and experience (not to mention the temperament) to make that possible. So you default to the best you can do. Mistakes will happen, yes. But with all the frustration in the school systems, foolishness and abuse are happening despite the written rules. Personally I would rather my kid have the chance of getting a couple of swats here and there than to have their teachers’ hands be tied when they need to deal with a real discipline problem.

    It’s not that hitting kids is “the” way to keep them in line. But the knowledge that it “could” come to that is very powerful with young children. I really think that threat was largely responsible for the relatively low-key atmosphere that reigned in schools when I was little. (And moms made it a point to tell us that our teachers had her express permission to paddle us if and when they saw fit.) Most kids never felt a paddle, which means the threat worked.

    If we’re going to ban corporal punishment, they need to come up with something equally effective. Sure, they have tried. Kids have a food fight? Feed them nothing but cheese sandwiches for 3 days. No wait, that will start a revolt among parents and kids alike. Every day I encounter an example of a lost teaching moment because parents don’t want their kids to learn their lesson. Why? I don’t know.

  48. SKL June 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Interesting comment about race and vocational school. I always thought we’re just trying to give youngsters time to mature before we make them feel the natural results of their choices. I used to be very much in favor of this approach. But after watching for decades, I see it usually doesn’t work that way. And forcing kids to spend time on Shakespeare when they could be really learning about, say, motors, is a waste of that kid’s time as well as taxpayer money. My brother graduated from the Vo-Ed because he was so over traditional “school” by age 17. He’s always had decent jobs. After a certain point, nobody asks which math class you took in the 12th grade. But not having a diploma at all due to the rigidity of educational requirements? That would be very hard to overcome nowadays.

  49. chavisory June 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    I am completely at a loss as to how putting either radio or TV on school buses is supposed to make them “safer.” It seems much more likely to me that it would do exactly the opposite. Does AdComp have research to back up its claims that bus safety is improved by installing televisions????

  50. Mae Mae June 27, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    I love the comments on here about vocational ed. and going back to internships at 15/16 years old. I shock a lot of people when it comes up in conversations that I don’t care if my kids attend college IF they have another plan. I am amazed at how many people don’t realize that there are many different ways to the same point.

    I have been a single mom since I was 19. I have never used my college diploma. I have worked in a field that many deem beneath themselves – I was in security. However, it enabled me to raise 2 children, buy a 4 bedroom house, and homeschool my children. It enabled to be home with my children during the day and work while they slept. I have been blessed to witness every milestone. I have never received government assistance. I am happy and content and so are my children.

    I wish people would realize that everyone is different and not everyone needs college to be happy and successful.

  51. helenquine June 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    SKL – I take issue with the idea that schools used to be so good, and now they are so bad. There are schools, classrooms and individual kids that are out of control – but I’m skeptical of the claim that that didn’t used to be the case.

    In the UK the standard of behavior in primary school classrooms has been tracked for years. And it’s got better on average over the last 40 years. This is despite the fact that teachers have had their “hands tied” by a legal ban on swatting kids, and the approach to behavior has moved towards the positive rather than negative reinforcement kind. (I do not meant to imply this is the reason for the improvement).

    As to the parents you describe – they don’t sound like most of the liberals I know, and I offer no support for that kind of woolly thinking which I think can be found on all sides of the political spectrum dressed up in different flavors. I totally agree that it’s outrageous when teachers get into trouble for doing what *any*body should be able to do to protect others. And from the teachers I know there seems to be a perception that they could get into trouble for any kind of physical contact – which is terrible, for them and for the kids they teach. But that isn’t the same thing as not using swats/spanking/paddling/etc. (or the threat of them) to improve behavior.

    And none of the above supports TV on school buses, which we seem to agree is a bad idea 😉

  52. skiermom June 28, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    I have to say, I don’t think this is such a bad idea. Teachers show videos during lunch to keep kids calm and I HATE that, because that is one of the few times during the day when kids can socialize. However, kids are hardly allowed to socialize on the bus, and if there were ever a place to keep kids calm, it would be the bus. The job of supervising 50 kids while driving is almost an impossible one. My kids have a very long bus ride and there really isn’t much they can do to keep themselves occupied. My kids watch no TV at all at home, so if they watched on the bus and the content were educational, it would not really be a tragedy, in my opinion.

  53. ebohlman June 28, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    kherbert: Yep, back in the days when American public schools had tracks, what track a kid was in depended mostly on what side of the tracks he lived on.

    sky: Part of the motivation of this extension of childhood and emphasis on lengthier education is that our economy is having trouble creating enough new jobs to accommodate kids reaching adulthood. Of course all this does is kick the problem down the road. Another problem is that American business has come to see training and selection of employees as something to outsource to the school/college system; executives grumble about the amount of taxes they pay for it, but those taxes are less than the direct costs of training employees themselves. That’s an obstacle to creating things like apprenticeships.

  54. SKL June 28, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    helenquine, the rationale they are giving for this brilliant TV-on-the-bus idea is that kids are out of control on school buses. That didn’t come from my imagination.

    And, if it’s true that most parents are in favor of their kids “learning a real lesson” if they screw up in school, perhaps there will be a movement toward real consequences for school behavior. Personally I want the schools to punish my kids if they need it. Really. How many parents are with me?

  55. SKL June 28, 2010 at 2:49 am #

    It may be that school systems are getting used to quick fixes for behavior, thanks to all the drugs that are floating around to help Johnny sit, shut up, and do his homework. The reality is there is going to be some level of chaos any time you bring together a group of normal, healthy kids. The question is whether kids can learn (with some guidance) to work through and self-organize that chaos, or whether they need to be drugged (via TV or otherwise) to act subdued.

    My kids go to preschool. They are in the 3-year-old class which includes 12 diverse students (with one teacher). I am often amazed at how well that class conducts itself. Often I enter a perfectly quiet room with all the little faces directed expectantly at the teacher. One day, however, when I arrived, the kids’ chairs were placed against the walls all around the room and every child present was in “time out.” They were all sitting perfectly quiet in their chairs. During free play, they organize themselves around different activities and it never gets “crazy.” What does this classroom have that others lack? I wish I knew.

  56. helenquine June 28, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    SKL – that they are giving that rationale now doesn’t mean that kids weren’t out of control before. It means they didn’t have a school bus TV service to sell before.

    When I was growing up we didn’t have separate school buses – regular public transport buses served the routes and kids rode those. Every year there were complaints about kids behavior on those buses. One term the school sent a teacher on one route because the drivers were threatening to not pick up kids from the school.

    So, again, I don’t buy the argument that things are worse now than they used to be. And so the claim that we have deteriorating behavior in schools because teachers are no longer allowed to hit kids does not seem like a well formed argument to me. I don’t see any evidence that we have deteriorating behavior on the whole, and less that corporal punishment was generally more effective than other methods when it was used.

  57. Michelle The Uber Haus Frau June 28, 2010 at 4:22 am #

    Whatever happened to letting the bus driver tune into a local station? Not good enough, now we need TV’s to keep them occupied? Jeez, let kids sit with whoever and talk for the ride home, or read a book, maybe daydream while looking out the window.

    “Since children 8-18 already spend 7.5 hours a day with media and excessive screen time” What does that even mean, anyways? Playing music or radio while doing an activity is one thing, but watching TV is another. I doubt kids are sitting in front of TV screen for 7.5 hours straight.

  58. Uly June 28, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    “Since children 8-18 already spend 7.5 hours a day with media and excessive screen time” What does that even mean, anyways? Playing music or radio while doing an activity is one thing, but watching TV is another. I doubt kids are sitting in front of TV screen for 7.5 hours straight.

    I saw an article on this a while back. As I recall, screen time and media included time on the internet and texting/using the phone.

    Because many kids multi-task, this meant they racked up more hours than you’d expect – they’d talk on the phone WHILE on the internet WHILE watching TV, that sort of thing.

  59. Uly June 28, 2010 at 5:03 am #

    helenquine, the rationale they are giving for this brilliant TV-on-the-bus idea is that kids are out of control on school buses. That didn’t come from my imagination.

    SKL, when I was a kid and rode the school bus, for two years or so I was on the MOST out-of-control school bus at the school. (My parents hadn’t realized this when they insisted us on being transferred from the STRICTEST school bus at the school or they might’ve thought differently.)

    The kids literally climbed over the seats – yes, over your head – as the bus was driving. I was very annoyed with my sister, actually – she did it, but as she was a bus monitor (!) and my older sister she wouldn’t let ME do it, and then the year she left elementary school we got a new bus driver and that was the end of that. It was probably for the best. I guess.

    They also did the classics of throwing things and waving out the windows (heedless to the claims that you can lose limbs that way) and hanging stuff out the windows and teasing each other and screaming and all that. It’s hard to imagine things being more out-of-control without actually bringing weapons into the situation… and if things are THAT bad in this district, I doubt that TV is going to do the trick.

  60. K June 28, 2010 at 5:36 am #

    I don’t see how tv will help fight egregious behavior on the bus. Kids that want to use the time on the bus to act out, or flex their social muscles will continue to do so – over the din of the tv.

    But, I do see how it can cause harm.

    We very strictly limit screen time in our house. This is not only because we are not overly keen on too much of it – but, also because exposure to screen time does strange things to my oldest’s mind. It makes him difficult to reach, hard to talk to/with, unable to focus, and a bit lost. When the screen is gone, it may take him a few hours to “come back”. So, send the kid home with lots of homework, then make sure that he won’t be able to engage on it for several hours? Who will they pay to tap him on the shoulder when it is time to get up and off the bus (calling him won’t work, trust me)? How often will they have to run the route a second time as he missed his stop? How will he rejoin the world in his classroom after the ride in?

    Is this just for the odd child (like my child) that finds screen time disruptive to normal interaction? No. This mental disruption has been shown to influence most kids (though, usually to a lesser degree). Who will influence the content of the video? Marketers? some political faction or another? Is there content that is sufficiently interesting and appropriate across the wide gap of K-5?

    Is this fair to do to any of the children? I hate it when I am distracted by screens and noise – I feel as though I am bombarded, doctor’s offices, waiting rooms, airports, restaurants – can’t there be some screen-free zones?

  61. Uly June 28, 2010 at 5:59 am #

    exposure to screen time does strange things to my oldest’s mind.

    For my part, I’ve found that my older niece in particular acts up if she’s been watching TV.

    Last summer we went to visit my grandmother in California, and my mother picked up earphones for the nieces for the plane. *I* had to sit next to the nieces, but *she* gave them these headphones against my wishes! I was so mad!

    And they were cranky brats through the flight.

    On the way back my mother tried this again, but I was heading home before she did so I just put the headphones in my bag and didn’t take them out. My mother, upon hearing my plan, went “But how will they behave???” which… really upset me. At the same age as my nieces, I took a non-stop transatlantic flight to Belgium and all *I* had was my sister and some books! My nieces had coloring books and crayons and all SORTS of things.

    And you know, on the way BACK I didn’t have any of the fussing and nonsense I’d had on the way out? (Well, duh.)

  62. earthboys June 28, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    My boys have never watched television, we don’t have one in the house. They have such a beautiful, “free-range”, carefree life. Stress Free!! Such happy little souls and incredibly creative.

  63. Uly June 28, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Earthboys, the link in your username goes to your old site, not your new. Might wanna fix that : )

  64. SKL June 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    Re TV, I am really controlling about it because my younger kid gets “sucked in.” She notices everything and will ask about things that are meant to “go over kids’ heads.” And she tends to get fixated on the stuff we really don’t want kids to focus too much on – like death and oppression and “why is she taking his clothes off?” I know many, if not most, kids just gloss over the stuff that is above their comprehension level (though it probably gets processed subconsciously). I am concerned that even some G-rated movies / shows are really not G-rated if you consider that things don’t go over all kids’ heads. I bought the Annie DVD but won’t be showing it to my kids any time soon, because within the first few minutes, you see a drunken childcare worker exploiting the children and then blatantly hitting on a delivery man. Yeah, I can just see the explanations I’d have to give my kids on jut that one scene. No thanks. Point being, I don’t want them exposed to any more screen time (unauthorized by me) than absolutely necessary.

  65. Ulla Lauridsen June 28, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

    Fight fire with fire: Claim, as is completely true, that watching television while driving will cause motion sickness, and that if a child throws up, he’s liable to choke, inhale vomit or pass a dangerous disease to someone else 😀

  66. Kiesha June 28, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    I’m not totally against the idea of TVs on the bus, only because when I rode the bus (2nd through 11th grade) I was subjected to some severe torture. I had no friends on the bus, but plenty of enemies. I would pretend to sleep so they’d leave me alone, but they’d pull my hair from the seat behind me. I’d try to ignore them, but they’d just tease me more.

    It never escalated to physical abuse, but the verbal abuse was often more than I could take. The bus driver never intervened because the kids were so quietly torturing me (“We’re going to come to your house and stick firecrackers up your cats’ butts and blow them up!), and because she had a lot of disdain for me.

    TVs might have captured these kids’ attentions so that they wouldn’t have felt the need to entertain themselves by teasing other kids (I wasn’t the only one). Then I could have been left in peace to sleep or stare silently out the window while waiting to finally get to college.

  67. Esther June 29, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    Of course, without television the school bus is just sooooo intellectually stimulating!

    And I think it’s great that adults don’t watch movies or listen to headsets on airline flights. We’re all too busy socializing and looking out our windows at all of the fascinating scenery.

    Really, kids spend a long 6 hr. day in school and then sometimes another several hrs. on top of that every day on the school bus. I don’t get what is so horrifying about letting them watch a TV show.

  68. BrianJ June 29, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    Ester – it’s not “letting” them watch TV that is the problem, it’s forcing them to. And sure, you can say “well the can turn away from the TV if they don’t want to watch.” And while that is technically true, they can’t shut off their hearing. Also, when have you ever seen a TV on in a room with children and the kids weren’t watching?

    My kids will be riding the bus next year, and I’m grateful that they will have the opportunity to socialize with kids not in their grade and generally deal with kids that they don’t come into contact with. I fully expect my son, who is somewhat introverted, to read or do homework. I also expect that my daughter will “waste” the time socializing and then have to rush to do get her homework completed. Both of those activities are valuable, and neither would be accomplished if the TV were on.

    If behavior on the bus is the problem, address the behavior. If it is a particularly bad problem, cameras can be installed on the bus to monitor the children.

    Finally, does anyone know of a bus accident that was caused by the bad behavior of kids on the bus?

  69. SKL June 29, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    Another question is, how many programs are out there that are appropriate for the full range of ages on a school bus? Will 5th graders be forced to watch Dora (God forbid)? Or will 5-year-olds be watching tween soaps? Visions of the Brady Bunch (NOOOOOO!) are flitting through my brain. Or will they just take the easy way out and default to MTV? Will they hire a panel of experts (supported by more taxpayer money) to hem and haw about what is the right programming? Will they send out an RFP for Westerns without guns, cartoons without violence, and teen dramas where youths never have sex without discussing condom use first?? Oh, I can just see it. How about NO. Oh yeah, I already said that, didn’t I?

  70. the sleepy time gal June 29, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    so true. once it starts, there is no stopping or controlling. thanks for the article.

  71. Uly June 29, 2010 at 3:10 am #

    Of course, without television the school bus is just sooooo intellectually stimulating!

    Could be. Depends on what you’re doing, but talking with your friends, or doing your homework certainly counts.

    And I think it’s great that adults don’t watch movies or listen to headsets on airline flights. We’re all too busy socializing and looking out our windows at all of the fascinating scenery.

    Or reading, or napping, or – again – catching up on work. These are all activities that force-fed TV interferes with. I find it very hard to concentrate with (loud) television on – and it’d have to be loud to reach the back seats. I also find it hard to concentrate when something is moving quickly in my peripheral vision… like the images on a TV screen, which jump around a lot more than what’s out the window does.

    And I’m not alone in this.

    Really, kids spend a long 6 hr. day in school and then sometimes another several hrs. on top of that every day on the school bus. I don’t get what is so horrifying about letting them watch a TV show.

    Well, if they’re on the bus for several hours a day, that’s pretty horrifying. It doesn’t need to be made moreso by the inclusion of forced, no-choice television.

  72. Commercial Free June 29, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    While I respect everyone’s opinion and fully support the views of, I disagree with some of the false information that they have provided in their article. Their intentions are good, but, maybe they are getting carried away and becoming overly protective in their role as whistle blowers ?

    The fact of the matter is that we are not interested in selling advertising on the B-E-S-T; It is loud and clearly stated on our website. We have consulted and discussed the B-E-S-T concept with numerous School Transportation Directors and have taken every piece of advice from them. We have also been opposed to the BusRadio concept and have believed and predicted the demise of BusRadio from the day we first heard about it 5 years back.

    Our solution and intentions are clear and we believe that the B-E-S-T solution will help in making the school bus environment safer for the kids. It will help the bus driver and the school administration staff with instilling discipline and a better and a safer school bus ride.
    Our company has been involved with engineering school bus video surveillance and tracking equipment for the past 5-6 years. Our company has been in very close contact with the school bus transportation director’s, their administrative staff, bus drivers, bus mechanics etc. We have spent about a year talking to these people about our concept and have had taken every one of their suggestions into account.

    While the job that these transportation personnel do is awesome in transporting our kids to and from school, we strongly believe that their jobs and the environment can be made a lot better in the school buses.

    We invite you to take a closer look at our concept and pay attention to every page on B-E-S-T is a well thought out approach and solution for our kids.

    From the start of this concept, we knew and still know that this project will fail, if advertisements and commercials are shown to the kids. Let us join hands together and understand this project and see if it works for us. If it doesn’t make the school bus environment safer and does not interest the kids, then just lets just scrap it and move on.

    But, I urge everyone to have an open mind and go through the entire project plan before jumping to conclusions.

    All ideas, suggestions and comments are welcome !

  73. helenquine June 29, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Commercial Free – “While the job that these transportation personnel do is awesome in transporting our kids to and from school, we strongly believe that their jobs and the environment can be made a lot better in the school buses.”

    Your intention to make the staff environment better is laudable, and I’m sure they and those who employ them are interested. I’m not against improved work conditions. But my concern is with making sure that doesn’t come at the expense of my kids – whose environment would be poorly impacted by forced TV on a bus journey they are obliged to take.

    This isn’t like a class where a teacher has thought about the content can tie it into other work and is available to direct discussion or answer questions. Especially since you are so against pure entertainment, you’re effectively talking about propaganda. My kids get force fed somebody else’s world view and there isn’t even a teacher there who can answer questions, promote discussion, and point out how that fits into the curriculum. I’d probably be behind most of the messages, but what about the ones I’m not? I don’t like this approach for messages I *do* agree with. I find it very concerning with messages I don’t agree with.

    On the No Commercial Advertising point – Lenore posted it. I read it. Few people have protested on the basis that their kids are going to be force fed ads. It’s a low bar. There’s far more to commercializing childhood than direct commercial adverts. Even the Discovery Channel tie their programs into product lines.

    You might make a more effective defense of your product if you had actually read Lenore’s post and the comments beneath.

  74. Commercial Free June 29, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    helenquine – There are no commercials on the B-E-S-T system.
    The schools are in control of the content. We are looking for volunteers to provide safety related content on the buses. Would you like to help ?

  75. helenquine June 29, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    Commercial Free – You want people with no formal qualifications or expertise, but who spend their time ranting on blogs to help you produce content to be shown to a captive audience? That doesn’t sound like a great recruitment process for developing good quality programming.

    And since I’m very much against the “Stranger Danger” message, do you think the schools would actually be happy with that? I wouldn’t be if you had stranger danger videos playing to my kids on the bus. This is one of the problems, You are talking about promoting messages – not all of which will be in keeping with parents ideas of what their children should learn. At least in schools when this sort of thing happens my kids could ask questions, and try and discover what is behind the message they are being given. But a bus – not so much.

    Also, since schools do things like get involved in exclusive deals with Pepsi to provide a narrow and unhealthy choice of soda to a captive audience of kids, why would we think they would be any more ethical in their choice of TV programming?

    And more to the point – what if our kids would just like some time to socialize, do their homework or wind down instead of having even more content force fed to them? How do they ignore it when it’s on a big screen for the whole bus? I know I and most of the people I socialize with have a hard time concentrating on a conversation in a bar or restaurant with screens showing sports or news programs we’re not even interested in. Why would I expect my kids to have super powers in this regard?

  76. SKL June 29, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    I looked at BEST’s site. There isn’t a ton of content there, but most of it seems benign. However, it seems to be targeted at a first-grade audience. Older kids (who are creating most of the serious problems on school buses) would simply make fun of that. I can also see the TVs being vandalized regularly on a bus that has behavior problems. There is also plenty of scope for propaganda. The kids’ brains are being distracted from deeper thought or interaction. And the cost is not justifiable. So although I don’t mean to diss a company that is trying hard to develop a useful product, I think the school bus is not the right place for this kind of programming. How about educational posters and pamphlets? At least that would be less passive than a TV.

  77. kherbert June 29, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    @ SKL You bring up an important fact. My school portables were broken in 7x From last summer to this spring semester. They were after flat screen TV’s.

  78. Uly June 30, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Just to interject a little – while I think SKL is going a bit overboard with her concerns about “liberal indoctrination” (I don’t know what schools she went to, but here in liberal NYC I (and I’m not going to give you my liberal creds here, you’ll just have to trust me here) always found far more conservative propaganda being shoved at me.

    Well, propaganda is a bit strong, but there were definitely times I felt uncomfortable because of my beliefs, either because of the teacher or because of the other students (or sometimes both).

    While I’m not entirely convinced that all this ideological bashing is really going to be as bad as she seems to think (this is several comments about it by now), truth is I don’t want to see any of it.

    I don’t particularly want schools making kids uncomfortable or propagating too much of ANY opinion, and this goes for mine as well as thine. It’s not productive to the goal of schools, which is theoretically to educate.

    As for Commercial Free, I simply don’t buy the claims that the program would be TRULY free of commercials. No product placement at all? No immersive advertising? No tie-ins? And this would continue even after the hardware was there? The schools couldn’t opt-out to a cheaper provider that DID allow commercials? Once you open this door… sheesh.

    Even if this specific company has the best of intentions now, I’ve seen too many “commercial free” enterprises become more and more advertiser-driven as time goes by.

  79. Commercial Free July 1, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    Uly – The answer to some of your questions. This equipment will be purchased by the schools. The schools will own it and the only way to upload new content to it is through the schools network. The schools currently have computers and television screens in the school that are used to educate the kids. The screens in the buses will be used for only the purpose of education. The education in the bus is going to be informal education about safety, technology – videos provided by NASA, bullying and such. Since a bus is not a classroom, each clip is going to be short, no-more than 5 minutes, it is going to be edu-taining. I will post some links to some of the sample content that has been provided by NASA in my next post. This is a wonderful discussion that we all are having, because it shows that there are passionate and concerned people in this world and only if we have these discussions can we get better at what we do and use available technology to make our kids smarter and safer. I just hope that in our efforts, we keep the dialog professional without personally attacking any one. – Thank you all.

  80. Uly July 1, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    CF, let me rephrase, because clearly you didn’t understand me: I don’t believe you.

    It doesn’t matter how much you “answer” or “explain”, I simply don’t believe you. Oh, I believe your company has the best of intentions, but I do not believe that it’ll stay that way for very long.

    You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but I don’t believe you. Period.

    (Also, five minute segments? Isn’t that sort of jumping around linked with the development of ADD?)

  81. Karen Allendoerfer July 7, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    I’ve been a (volunteer) bus monitor on a suburban elementary school bus. It’s not terrible, but I have seen some behavior that is actually unsafe: kids getting up and running in the aisles while the bus is moving, or kids yelling at or otherwise distracting the driver, for example.

    It is a significant burden on the driver–who has to be paying attention to driving, not monitoring–to be expected to control this kind of behavior. The school district does not have money to pay bus monitors, and I (and other parents) don’t have time to do it every day for free. I don’t hate the idea of bus TV for that reason, if it will keep kids in their seats and not bothering and distracting the bus driver while he is driving. (I don’t know if it will actually do this, but I think the idea is worth considering).

    I think it’s much worse to have regular commercial TV, or especially TV “news,” on in public places. I had to talk about Saddam Hussein with my 4-year-old after she saw his ugly mug broadcast on screens all over an airport lobby and asked, anxiously, who that man was. That was much worse, and is much more prevalent, than educational TV on a school bus.


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