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How Can Tech Help Fight Education Costs?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the cheaper-AND-better dept.

Education 503

http101 asks: "With the ever-rising costs of fuel, we seem to forget those that are truly having problems affording it. No, not the homeless, but our own kids. 'Kids,' you ask? Yes, because being driven to school on the 'Yellow Dog' or the 'Edu-Express' better known as a school bus, is costing your state more money than ever before. In my neighborhood, we have a plethora of home connected by fiber and at least high-speed internet. So my question is, how can technology be better-implemented to ensure a student's studies and also lower the costs of fuel for the districts?"

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Correlation (1, Insightful)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410370)

School is still babysitting. Unless you have a parent or tutor in the home who is capable of directing the child to maintain their studies - or a particularly dedicated student - the problem is not one of information transfer, but of physical control.

Those costs, however, are education overhead, if you will. Busses do not scale with learning or technology. If every other student stays home the bus is even less efficient. Unless you can convince all of the distant students to learn from home... of course, in my area, these are often the ones who cannot get/afford high-speed access.

I do think technology can help education costs. Technology can provide students a way to obtain and submit their homework electronically. Technology can automate grading. It can provide online, linkable calendars of each course with the daily details of homework, tests, quizzes, etc. Technology, harnessed properly, can mean more productive time for student and teacher, alike. Along the way, it might save a gallon of gas or two, but mostly for the parent who's child left their books/homework/reading at school.

Re:Correlation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410482)

Sure, sure, you CAN try to get everyone to get home-schooling, but as you said, school is baby-sitting.

Rather than using tech to connect every child to the school via monitors and the internet or the like (which would either be rejected by poorer parents if the school forced the parents to pay, or just cause costs for the school to soar through the stratosphere), a better implementation of tech to save on fuel costs would be using hybrid engines for the school buses.

Of course, having the schools offer more accessible home-schooling, with the internet more integrated, may allow some bus routes to be cut.

Re:Re: (1)

operand (15312) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410667)

Several thoughts:

-- Kids must be in the classroom. Distance learning for kids ages 5-18 can't happen as they have a much shorter attention span than most - Numerous studies have shown classroom education to be the most effective. Also - you shouldn't have to force parents to stay home with their children instead of working.

-- Why not emulate city bus stops where kids are dropped off by parents at a desingated spot that is monitored by an adult (enclosed shelter). The key is to minimize the routes which is a huge problem in rural communities who are already strapped with funding issues. Urban schools can seek the city for assistance in allowing them to use their busing systems (where available). ...Or better yet, support your school through levies, student fundraising, etc, etc, etc.

Re:Correlation (3, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410495)

School is still babysitting.

I have a friend whose wife is a grade school teacher. Spend 15 minutes with a teacher, and you'll realize just how truly ignorant that statement is. Many teachers I've met are far more dedicated to their job than any techie I've ever met. You don't teach to pay the bills- because it doesn't, not well at all. You teach because you love the concept of helping people learn and contributing to society. The standards are high- when it comes to education and training, they don't have a choice. Peer review is ongoing. Certification is required and often also ongoing. The amount of prep work my friend's wife does for teaching gradeschool classes is astounding.

Maybe -your- school is full of teachers who are in 'cruise mode', but most are full of people who have dedicated their lives to teaching your children. Show a little gratitude.

Re:Correlation (2, Interesting)

Zphbeeblbrox (816582) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410606)

I work in over 20 schools supporting their networks. Teachers may very well be dedicated to teaching but they have a remarkably low desire to learn. Tech will never benefit education till teachers are willing to embrace it. Most of them can't even logon to the schools network. The students run rings around them in the computer lab, and don't even get me started their use of computers in the curriculum.

Certification? It doesn't test anything useful that I can see. Peer review? none of their peers no what technology is good for either. There are exceptions but those just prove the rule. There is a lot of perception to change out there before technology starts to actually benefit education. Or maybe I just live in a strange alternate reality where I manage to work for a company that supports the schools with the worst teachers for technology.

Re:Correlation (4, Insightful)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410616)

Since I teach HS, maybe I can clarify. Yes, school is babysitting, at least the way many parents see it. Neither I nor most my colleagues see it that way, but it's hard because we often have to deal with a large number of kids that don't want to be there, are f*** ups, or just don't care. We can't remove the 2 or 3 that screw it up for the remaining 34.

Our schools are on warehouse mode most of the time, and that comes from on high, not in the classroom. Part of the problem is the very idea of education has been severely deprecated. I am a geek, linux, java, yada yada, but I teach history and consider myself an historian first. But, history, nor 99% of anything else in school is going to be worth $1 more in the "real world". But that's not, nor has is ever been the point of an education.

So, we have marginalized an education for practical use, which means that kids don't give two shits about history, just a letter on a piece of paper. It's either "I need it for college, how do I get an A" or "When are we ever gonna need this"?

Don't cry for me Argentina, as I love what I do and have great kids. Really. But, we are in many ways a babysitter, or a caretaker, holding them long enough so they don't rampage the neighborhood while the mommies are out walking the babies. Until there is a penalty (other than personal opportunity squandered) for not graduating and learning, it'll only get worse.

Re:Correlation (1)

DoubleD (29726) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410627)

The problem is when parents start looking at school as babysitting. Also when parents hold the teacher as the sole source of education in the childs life.

The teachers I know work hard and do their best. With larger class sizes they just do not have the time to be responsible for ensuring each and every child is challenged to their potential. Parents must be involved in the process by helping their children get the most out of homework, be motivated in their studies, and volunteer in class.

I think the grandparent post may have been on this track more than demeaning the work of teachers.

Re:Correlation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410641)

> you'll realize just how truly ignorant that statement is.

You should have finished reading the comment. or are you saying your friends wife cant controll the kids, and has to have babysitters for each kid, and is just doing the teaching, no kid controll?

Some of it's not feasible yet (2, Insightful)

TurdTapper (608491) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410378)

I can see having a one day a week class at home via a live webcast. The teacher can still take attendance and the kids can still get the knowledge. Unfortunately, this is only feasible if every single kid has access to broadband. And, even with all the advances, there are a LOT of people out in the country that can't even get cable TV much less broadband.

Now, this might work in the inner city, but at that point you'd have to subsidize the cost of broadband for all those people that can't afford it. And saving 4 days of bus driving a month compared to making up for 100 or 200 kids worth of broadband at 15-50 bucks a month isn't a savings.

It would be good to save 1/5 of the gas (or more) that's needed for the buses, but that's not going to happen in the near future.

Re:Some of it's not feasible yet (1)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410521)

Good points about feasability.

I understand the attractiveness of teleschooling (correct term?) but I have to question if children are mature enough to stay at home alone and take classes. This may be effective for college or high school students but less so with middle school or elementary school students.

Re:Some of it's not feasible yet (1)

TurdTapper (608491) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410611)

I would have to agree. It's hard enough for me to sit still now as an adult, as a middle schooler I never would have sat in front of a screen for that long.

I also thought of something else. If both parents are working, there is no way you can leave an elementary/middle school child alone for that long. And half the high schoolers I grew up with (I can probably include myself in that) were NOT mature enough to handle being alone ALL DAY and have to be doing schoolwork.

Re:Some of it's not feasible yet (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410586)

A webcast is only one way. And if you try to do it two ways, like videoconferencing? Perhaps it's just because we deal with people from across the country, but even if your average student had a net connection like our great univ. connection, classes would be like:

Teacher: "Ok, now, what is five plus eight?"
(students raise hands)
Teacher: (beat) (beat) "Yes, Mary."
Teacher: "What's..."
Mary: "... Twelve ..."
Teacher: "... wrong? Oh, ..."
Mary: "... nothing..."
Teacher: "... sorry for..."
Mary: "... is wrong..."
Teacher: (waits for Mary to finish)
Mary: (waits for Teacher to finish)
Teacher: "Ok, then. Yes, Mary was correct - the answer is twelve. Now, who can..."
Mary: "Thank you."
Teacher: "... tell me what six plus nine is?"

Part of the problem is that even slight delays throw off our typical audio timing cues that prevent us from interrupting others. That timing lets us know when to either continue speaking because we feel that the other stop, or to wait for them to finish. Then, when we realize something is wrong, we often overcompensate for it.

Also, I can't picture this being a high quality education. Video conferencing never really seems to bring much over a phone call, especially if you don't have some huge-screen HDTV for each person that you're talking to. You can't just help someone with their paper, observe misbehavior, and on a lot of videoconferencing systems, even simple things like enable peer-to-peer conversations that don't have to involve the entire group (which may prove critical in class environments).

Re:Some of it's not feasible yet (1)

TurdTapper (608491) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410639)

I can see your point. It would probably be useful for a lecture, but not a truly interactive setup.

And I can't tell you how exciting 6 hours of just lecture over my computer sounds...I feel sorry for my children already.

Easy (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410380)

So my question is, how can technology be better-implemented to ensure a student's studies and also lower the costs of fuel for the districts?

Just home school. Through this mircale of modern technology, kids can be better taught than through any other method known to man! Not to mention that your child will receive his very own "teacher unit" who just happens to also be related to the child! A Win-Win situation for all!

Joking aside, Home Schooling is a very good option, especially in rural areas where familys can better afford to only have one parent working. The results of various studies show that the home schoolers easily outperform their publically educated peers, and that the social aspect isn't as big of an issue as was once feared.

From Wikipedia [] (which actually links to quite a few more sources):

"The academic effectiveness of homeschooling is largely a settled issue. Numerous studies have confirmed the academic integrity of home education programs, demonstrating that average homeschoolers outperform their public school peers by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects. Moreover, the performance gaps between minorities and gender that plague public schools are virtually non-existent amongst homeschooled students. Source [] "


"According to the findings, children who were schooled at home 'gained the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to function in a rate similar to that of conventionally schooled children.'

"The researcher found no difference in the self concept of children in the two groups. Stough maintains that 'insofar as self concept is a reflector of socialization, it would appear that few home-schooled children are socially deprived, and that there may be sufficient evidence to indicate that some home-schooled children have a higher self concept than conventionally schooled children.'" Source []

Technology only bolsters the abilities of home schoolers. Where as a home schooler of my generation had to be satified with the curriculum, materials the parents could afford, and the local library (an excellent source itself), modern school children can find information on virtually ANY issue simply by checking the Internet. Also, whereas labs done by my generation had to be performed by video tape, the modern generation is capable of actually video conferencing with a lab instructor for more precise education.

Isn't modern technology wonderful? ;-)

Only problem... (2, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410506) the kids who were home schooled typically lack social skills.

Re:Only problem... (1)

op12 (830015) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410565)

I don't think the problem is "lacking social skills" as much as it is fitting in with the public school kids. It's like you hear all the time, particularly at a young age kids will make fun of anything that makes someone different from the norm. As the grandparent post mentioned, they develop nearly equal social skills. While it is more difficult than a school environment, there are plenty of ways to get involved in things that let you meet new people.

Re:Only problem... (1)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410594)

There's a system in some areas where you home school 3 days a week and they go to school the other two, or maybe it's 2/3 I forget. Seems like a good compromise.

Re:Only problem... (3, Interesting)

Colonel Panic (15235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410597)

I've noticed that children who are homeschooled have better social skills when it comes to dealing with adults. Usually when I visit the home of a family who homeschools the kids will actually enter into conversation with visiting adults. Kids who aren't homeschooled generally shy away from interacting with adults. Not a huge sample, but very noticable.

Also: often homeschoolers will do classes together with other homeschoolers for subjects like art and music - say you don't know anything about music, but another homeschooling parent you know is a musician. You make an arrangement to take your kids to the mucician's place for music classes and they bring their kids to your place for Ruby Programming classes. These types of arrangements are fairly common among homeschoolers thus negating the 'lack of socialization' arguments.

Re:Easy (1)

bfields (66644) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410591)

Joking aside, Home Schooling is a very good option, especially in rural areas where familys can better afford to only have one parent working.

Oh, right, move out to the sticks and home-school, that's the way to economize on fuel....

(Sorry, but if the goal is energy efficiency, we're waaay better off with people living in the big city and taking the bus to school.)

So, in short, how can tech help homeschool? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410382)

Am I getting this right? Is this person trying to say "How can tech be used to homeschool our kids instead of sending them to public school?"

(If not, what are they doing talking about transportation costs?)

Re:So, in short, how can tech help homeschool? (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410448)

No, I think the question he's trying to ask is, "How do we home school without home schooling?"

And the answer is, "Just home school the child. The result will be that your child will do *better* acedemically and socially."

The downside is that home schooling isn't for everyone. I was home schooled, but my wife doesn't feel up to the challenge. So we send our kids to a private school. Even then, it was VERY difficult finding a school that was both affordable and met the needs of our child.

Re:So, in short, how can tech help homeschool? (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410599)

> The downside is that home schooling isn't for everyone. I was home schooled, but my wife doesn't feel up to the challenge. So we send our kids to a private school. Even then, it was VERY difficult finding a school that was both affordable and met the needs of our child.

Kudos to you and your family for analyzing the time commitment required and deciding that, since you didn't have the time to commit to the project, to outsource the job to people who would do a good job of it.

The problem is -- if you were to flip a legislative switch and say "Everybody gets homeschooled, and the government will cover the cost of your broadband pipe", you'd discover that 90% of the population did feel up to the challenge. You know -- the 90% of the parents of the students in your public school, who already don't give a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut if Johnny can read, as long as he's out of their hair for 8 hours a day.

Implement something like that, and what little literacy and numeracy remains in our population would go out like a light, eclipsed by an avalanche of stupidity that would make the Kansas Board of Education look like a beacon of pedagogical integrity.

Might be a great competitive advantage to be part of the 1% that had parents who cared whether you could read or not -- but 20 years down the road, that 1% will have to either support the remaining 99% of the population using some form of nanotech magic they've invented (which isn't very likely) , or the other 99% will be classified as redudnant and... well... removed, because they outnumber you 100:1 and outbreed you by 10:1. Anyone for Soylent Green tonight?

One school, the best teachers.... (1)

nazzdeq (654790) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410395)

...every kid in the country jacked into the same classes.

Re:One school, the best teachers.... (1)

PickyH3D (680158) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410644)

Grading though, but otherwise an intriguing idea.

Schooling at home not an option for many (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410401)

School is basically a daycare for most families. Even if they have high-speed internet access, they can't leave their kids home alone when both parents work.

Oh bother (1)

Pampusik (458223) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410403)

Sounds like a loaded question if I ever heard one...!

Don't forget the social aspect (2, Insightful)

Mystical Presence (313724) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410404)

Part of going to school is also to teach kids how to be social and interact with others.

How does/would home schooling deal with this aspect?

School is the absolutely worse place for that. (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410490)

Put lots of people in a room and they aren't allowed to talk to each other. They learn not to interact with the people around each other. Schools teach that even passing notes is a "bad thing". Also there's hardly enough time to go between classes. At least homeschooling, there aren't any other kids around, so no penalties for trying to interact.

Obviously, public school didn't work out so well (0, Troll)

Marc2k (221814) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410645) least for your grammar. 'Absolutely' is an adverb, and you're using it to modify an adjective, which is incorrect. In addition, 'worse' implies a comparison, which is not being made here. "School is the absolute worst place.." or, "School is absolutely the worst place.." would have been acceptable alternatives.


Re:Don't forget the social aspect (1)

Undertaker43017 (586306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410546)

In my experience, all the "social" aspect of school (public or private) does is breed elitist and exclusionary people. If someone is the least bit different, school is the worst place to send them, they will be excluded, looked down on and made fun of by the "cliquey" people. Schools are definately the wrong place to pick up, good, social values.

Re:Don't forget the social aspect (1)

Kainaw (676073) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410575)

Part of going to school is also to teach kids how to be social and interact with others.
How does/would home schooling deal with this aspect?

When I went to school, we 7 in-between class periods of 5 minutes each. There was one 10 minute break and 20 minutes for lunch. That is a total of 65 minutes. Sending a home-schooled child to the park for an hour after school should easily accomplish the task - unless you are referring to the mistreatment of the smarter children that is a requirement in most (if not all) public schools.

Distance education (2, Insightful)

Gary Destruction (683101) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410406)

Distance education could be a possible solution. However, it would not be without some major issues. First of all, the ability for children to learn with distance education would be an issue. Age would definitely be a factor in that regard because they may or may not have the discipline or concentration to handle it.

Secondly, there are some social implications. Distance education means that kids would not be interacting with other kids in the physical sense. They would be in front of a screen. That may or may not socially impact them. On another note, distance education could mean the end of school shootings as we know it. Kids would have the Internet to provide some protection from being made fun of because there is no visual contact with other students.

A third issue with distance education is the obesity epidemic. As far as I know, there are no gym classes with distanced education. That also means no playground. And if children become attached to the computer, they will less likely to be physically active. This also adds the question of how distance education would impact extra curricular activities.

A definite advantage of distance education is that it would teach children to use proper netiquette. It can also teach them ethical computer usage. Another advantage of distance education is that school buildings wouldn't bee needed which means lower costs. That includes janitorial work as well as electricity, property maintenance, etc. There would be a building, but none that has the requirements of a school building.

Re:Distance education (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410481)

> On another note, distance education could mean the end of school shootings as we know it. Kids would have the Internet to provide some protection from being made fun of because there is no visual contact with other students.

Because as every gibbering fuckwit knows, the lack of visual contact between people has always ensured a high degree of civility in any new communications medium.

And now that we've ended school shootings as we've known them, and because class ends in only five minutes, will you please hurry up and respawn so I can pwn j00r n00b a55 again? :)

Re:Distance education (1)

dthrall (894750) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410649)

I agree that distance education simply is not an option for younger students for these reasons and more. The Universities are where technologies can be used in this manner. The article mentions that:
With the ever-rising costs of fuel, we seem to forget those that are truly having problems affording it. No, not the homeless, but our own kids. 'Kids,' you ask?

I think the focus is misdirected, because the plain and simple fact is that the costs of public education at this level are almost entirely on the taxpayers. Riding the bus at this stage in one's life is usually free. The children themselves don't have to afford anything.

College-Level Students are the ones who have historically been both on their own and broke. I fund my college education with no help from my parents. This means that if I want to maintain my enrollment, I need to work a lot of hours just to scrape by. My location is in a "college town", a place with a small population that doubles during the fall and spring semester. I drive 35 minutes each way to work, as no employer in town is willing to pay wages that I could survive upon. If distance learning were a more viable option for this level of education (and a lot of universities have dabbled in the idea), then one could theoretically live further from the university, at least after the first year or two, but there are issues with this too.

Re:Distance education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410652)

"On another note, distance education could mean the end of school shootings as we know it. Kids would have the Internet to provide some protection from being made fun of because there is no visual contact with other students. "

If "being made fun of" is enough to make you want to kill some one, then you are most assuredly in need of therapy, medication, or restraint.

School shooting are not the result of "being made fun of". School shootings are the result of a bunch of dipshit loosers wnating to kill their classmates for some baseless & assinine reason.

Suck it up and stop whining about being picked on. Don't use the "i'm a geek/nerd/outcast" crutch - it's a pathetic excuse.

Well (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410408)

Maybe they could use those high speed connections to buy bikes on ebay?

It can't (1)

ND4SPDR (841029) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410412)

It can help in-class teaching, but kids belong in classrooms, not at home. It's just not as easy to learn at home, especially when your teacher is on the TV.

Re:It can't (1)

MPHellwig (847067) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410502)

Well kids learn alot stuff from TV most of it is not educational and some even dangerous for young un-educated minds.

Yellow Dog... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410413)

...what a misleading article stub. The article had absolutely NOTHING to do with linux on PPC...

Carpooling (1)

Astin (177479) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410414)

Well, running under the assumption that the goal is for children to still attend school instead of home-schooling, then the most obvious answer would be to organize carpooling and the like. Not that this is better organized by fiber-optics and high speed though. Set up a community board, or a school website that has forums for parents to organize such things. One would assume that most of the students live in the area, so why not discover that Jimmy's mom drives Jimmy to school every day, and he lives 2 streets over, so maybe Mrs. Jimmy's Mom can drive Sally too.

Re:Carpooling (1)

3dr (169908) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410488)

At the high school level, students that are otherwise served by buses should be forced to use them instead of driving their own cars to school. Too many drive themselves around here.

Re:Carpooling (1)

0xdeaddead (797696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410625)

And then she can get a yellow bus and pick all the kids up. The problem is that people are driving their kids to school when busses provide the SAME service. They should ban people from doing this, but gas prices will do it for us. When gas hits 70$ either next week or the following thank all the parents with their SUV's driving kids to school for the increase.

Re:Carpooling (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410631)

ummm... isn't that what the busses already do? AND not only that, but the bus is a heck of a lot more energy effecient in terms of fuel usage (most are disel, some turbo disel), which run more efficient to begin with and add in the fact that it carries 10-15x more kids then your typical family car.

Public School Is Stupid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410420)

Stupid communist crap, discussed on dumb-ass shark-jumping communist web site. RMS is a freaakin' communist chump.

Maybe we could hire Honda (1)

inajamaica (906275) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410423)

Maybe we can hire Honda to make something efficient to put under the hood of those oversized, non-aerodynamic beasts. I mean seriously, when was the last time Cummins was into fuel efficiency? Wonder who DOES make the diesels in those things...

Re:Maybe we could hire Honda (1)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410658)

Now THAT is funny - The Honda UnCivil(tm)

Grand Allusions (1)

iridium18 (205856) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410428)

Yes, I'm sure all this world needs is more anti-social youth with unlimited information at their fingertips...

and also eating and drinking soda all day at home...

Re:Grand Allusions (1)

milktoastman (572643) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410467)

Eating soda? i get the drinking bit, but eating it?!?! If I could have, I'd have modded you down -1, smickles. I don't make wrong stated pieces when it comes down to it.

Don't need technical solutions for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410429)

If you want to significantly cut fuel costs for schools, have them go back to a 9-month school year instead of today's 10-month school year. That would cut out a full month's worth of fuel for schools and parents. To make up for the missing month, cut out all of the junk that students "study" and get back to teaching basic READING, WRITING, and ARITHMETIC.

Re:Don't need technical solutions for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410605)

But if kids don't get their diversity training...I mean liberal indoctrination...the world would fall apart at the seams. Just like it did before.

They could (3, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410431)

- Organize adult-supervised bicycle rides for kids who live within 3 miles of their schools

- Stop buying computers for primary schools that provide little educational value compared to cheap books and good teachers. The savings could pay for school bus

- Replace old school bus with efficient new ones. Perhaps even a hybrid concept or something similar. Very high cost upfront, but gas savings.

- Raise taxes. Gap! yes! raise *YOUR* taxes so that *YOUR* children may go to school and have a chance at a good education and a good future, a concept America as a whole has completely forgotten for some reason.

Re:They could (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410603)

Raise taxes. Gap! yes! raise *YOUR* taxes so that *YOUR* children may go to school and have a chance at a good education and a good future, a concept America as a whole has completely forgotten for some reason.

Or more accurately, raise *MY* taxes so *YOUR* child can go to school.

Not all of us are parents.

Fuel efficient technology/What are you getting at? (2, Insightful)

frostyboy (221222) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410432)

With the mention of fiber connected homes and broadband connectivity, I cannot help but think perhaps the poster has some sort of idea like: "well we don't need schools anymore, let's have all the kids learn at home!" That's a beast of a discussion in and of itself.

As for the main question of how technology in general can help save money now being spent on fuel for school buses, the immediate choices are more obvious. They include things like hybridization of the vehicles, natural-gas burning buses, and other forms of making the fleet more fuel-efficient. It's only a matter of time before some of the efficiency improvements we're starting to see in the family car show up in school buses.

Visit the oldest currently running "webcam" on the internet []

quit buying technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410433)

quit spending money on computers and internet, and bam


Is the implication here..... (1)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410435)

...that 'real-life' social interaction and regular structured excercise are no longer needed for kids in the 21st century?

I assume all the above goes on in America just as it does in schools across the world.

I think the school bus or just getting kids to walk to school is about as good as it gets. Perhaps a more efficient HFC or EV bus could help with long-term costs?

It's good to be damaged (1)

milktoastman (572643) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410438)

I think it's true. It's good to be damaged. I don't mean physically or to the point the cloud humor fails to make you laugh but rather attack; I mean rather that you get a little ruffled, that your edges get some tatters and the sh&t slides off much more slickly. Now don't use this as an excuse to break out the old chain clippers and let me fall...I'm just saying, in my own syphonic way (sluuuurp!), that I don't think tech should be so bombastically lusted after like warm meat. Just let the kids go throug the pheromonal miseries in a sea of hormones at school with rusty IBM PS/2 to practice typing on. A shiny Mac will just make them wimp jelly.

City Buses (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410440)

In some cities the High School Students go to school on the city buses. When it is time to go to and from school, the bus routes change to stop at the High School.

Here's one way (1)

oskard (715652) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410442)

Remove all of the porno on the Internet. Then remove all of the Java and Flash games out there too. Make sure that students don't have CD drives or powerful video cards to play games, watch porn, and while you're at it ask their ISP companies to remove Instant Messaging / Email capabilities on student internet lines.

Then maybe highschool students will be able to actually learn from their personal media devices.

That clears the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410507)

Then you have cleared the way for the kids to download MP3's and non-porn divx movies all day long. No more flash-games to distract them. Good going!

Re:Here's one way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410514)

Yes, learn the joys of SSH tunneling.
Just saying that still would not work.

French Fry Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410443)

I heard on the news about a local school system mixing some sort of oil (french fry oil maybe?) into their deisel buses to cut costs.

Re:French Fry Bus (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410561)

Biodiesel, you have to "cook" the fat first, but yes. Though typical mixes are only 30% bio.

HOME SCHOOLING!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410446)

then yous kidz cans learns real good about jesus here in jesusland.


RUFFyamahaRYDER (887557) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410497)

Home schooling actually came to mind when I first read this article, but I think children need to be in a social setting because that is a big part in the learning process.

Not all home schooled children learn the social aspect of life.

Hybrid buses. (1)

RUFFyamahaRYDER (887557) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410453)

Push the technology of hybrid vehicles and extend them to buses that take kids to and from school.

I think the submitter was hinting at having kids learn from home with the high-speed internet access, but I've taken college courses over the net and it's just not the same as being there in person. I do not believe we are there yet...

Ambulate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410456)

Step 1: Learn to walk
Step 2: Learn how to ride a bike

Both will get you to school without paying for fuel.

Perhaps by tying down the soccor moms (1)

0xdeaddead (797696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410464)

So all the kids take the freaking bus. This whole "energy crisis" is the result of moms driving their kids to school in 5Mile/Gallon SUV's.

Personally I welcom a $10 a gallon price.

Fuel cost is not that expensive (1)

agurk (193950) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410468)

I would think fuel cost is the least expensive thing about school. Telecommution barely works in a work environment - and now you expect 10 year olds to sit at home in front of their pc.

My view is that education is not really about learning the most important thing is learning sosial interaction with real people at your own age. Without to sosial interaction school provided me (with real people) I would still be sitting in front of my computer being upset by slashdot articles..

The view that school is for learning lot of facts is not really a realistic view (in my humble opinion). Retoric: Who makes the most money good scientist or good salesmen?

distance learning doesn't - for me anyway (1)

JimmytheGeek (180805) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410477)

Look, it takes incredible production values to give highly trained presenters half a chance at being half as compelling as someone in the room. This just doesn't lend itself to mass production.

And do you want your teachers acting like local news clones? Ick.

Put the powerpoint away, hand out books instead. Actual learning may be involved.

Bus (1)

DavidBartlett (748559) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410485)

> 'Yellow Dog' or the 'Edu-Express'

We used to call it the "luser-cruiser."

Re:Bus (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410601)

"tart-cart" for the smaller bus. Since the special ed kids were usually on them.

(Yep, I know, I'm going to hell because I was a kid.)

Improving transportation... (1)

DeafByBeheading (881815) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410500)

Run the school buses on biodiesel?

Fuel cost doesn't matter much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410503)

compared to the salary cost of the bus driver. If you need to lower the cost of bus transport, then you need to pack more sardines in the can.

Therefore, we need smaller children - reduce obesity - stop the balanced diet propaganda. To be small, thin and unhealthy, we need to put our children on unbalanced diets - it works in the rest of the world...

There's better technology than fiber... (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410512) only costs $16.99 for a whole school year. Who would have known that the answer was right under out feet! []

Not much (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410518)

The most significant problem with trying to use IT technology to fix this that more and more households have both parents working. School allows kids to be monitored while parents can go off and make the money.

The implication here is that somehow IT will make it so that kids won't have to leave home, and right now in US society that's not realistic. Children need to go somewhere else to be taught and monitored until society shifts back to a model where only one parent is a breadwinner.

You might think this will work for teenagers in high school, but I guarentee you no matter what controls you put on your lessons to try to motivate them to attend a "lesson" online, you'll have a dramatic rise in goof offs unless you have a parent who has the time to stay home and make sure they stay involved.

The answer here is alternative sources of energy, not alternative teaching methods.

Think long-term (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410527)

Oil prices are volitile, they may be $35/barrel by this time next year - or $235.

Instead of thinking "quick fix" let's think long-term.

Unless we go to a neighborhood-only school setup, or cut the # of days of school down from 170-180, our school buses will still have to drive just as far as they do today.

Investing in alternative fuels and sources of fuel for buses and mini-buses is the way to go. Bio-diesel, electric or hybrid vehicles, and the like are a Big Win for budgets and maybe the environment too.

One thing tech can do is allow "virtual field trips" to museums and elsewhere. This year schools are canceling field trips to save money. Replacing them with "virtual field trips" using their existing computer labs helps restore some of what the students lose by not having a "real" field trip.

It cannot (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410528)

There is no substitute for personal attention from a real teacher.

Emm ... Errr ... check out GasBuddy ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410539)

... and pass that info along

How are buses inefficient? (1)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410540)

A bus is much more efficient per passenger mile than the SUV (or probably even the Prius that eco-mom drives). 30 students moved 10 miles (at say, 10 mpg) takes 1 gallon, move those same 30 students 10 miles in individual cars that get 50 mpg would take (30*10/50)=6 gallons of gas, or in other words, you would have to pack 5 kids in each 50mpg hybrid to match the transportation efficiency of the ugly yellow bus.

Re:How are buses inefficient? (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410620)

Sadly, your numbers are probably not too far off. I'dve expected diesel efficiency to be better but a recent paper rated a shuttle (so more stop & go,
the worst case for efficiency) at 2km /l... or about 5 mpg. OTOH you do assume that the routes are the same; buses have to do circuits of some sort typically. I still suspect they come out on top but agree with others that children should become reaccquainted with a piece of technology known as the bicycle; seasonal weather permitting.

Cyborg Implants (1)

scaverdilly (902859) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410552)

I don't know how close we may be, but a cyborg implant that can download data, and then be accessed by the brain seems like it could lend itself to helping our children learn at a rapid pace without ever letting them go to school. Might be overkill, but hey ... it does what you want, doesn't it?

Traveling Salesman Problem (1)

MrFreezeBU (54843) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410555)

Growing up in rural Oklahoma, I had the good fortune of riding the school bus. In my school district the bus drivers had the freedom to pick their own route through all the backroads, twists, and turns. The only requirement was that they had to pick up every child that needed a ride. Most of these routes were passed down from the departing driver as he trained his replacement. I am not sure how efficient the route was that my driver drove, but as it was a human creation, I'm sure that there was room for improvement. I'm guessing that a computer aided route creation program could shave a few percent off of the mileage/fuel costs. Given that there are not a huge number of stops, the solution should not be that difficult or time intensive. It would just be a matter of convincing a 60 year old man that the computer generated route is better. Have fun with that!

Biodiesel (1)

Benanov (583592) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410556)

Since we're also supposed to be considering alternative fuel sources, why not have some of those High School Chemistry classes have a focus on BioDiesel? :)

Highest Ever? (1)

GypC (7592) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410559)

Adjusting for inflation, fuel prices in 1981 were about $3.07 per gallon.

I don't recall them complaining about school buses back then, but then again I was only 11 and didn't pay much attention.

Maybe not Highest ever, but near the peak again (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410585)

it is over $3 in some parts of California, for example, and about $2.80 around here in Washington state.

But we could always have the kids bike to school - and when they get old enough, they could get a single seat moped.

Those get great mileage, and they're babe magnets (for either gender).

What's a school bus? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410560)

My son and I have walked to his school since he was in first grade and he's going into ninth grade now.

Sure, if it rains a heck of a lot, we get in a car, but people are too slack - when I was a kid we had to walk anywhere from one to two miles on snow-covered roads just to get to the bus stop in the first place.

And, yeah, it was a lot of fun.

Very simple solution (1)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410567)

How about instead of bussing kids all over the place you let them attend the schools that were built in the neighborhood for that very purpose?

Why apply technology where sneakers excel?

Pedal Buses! (1)

rubberbando (784342) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410568)

Have those youngsters put all that extra energy to good use! ;)

Cyber-Charter Schools (1)

beanlover (710167) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410570)

In PA we have state sponsored Cyber Charter schools. It's public school, and we have a teacher we work with/through. All the stuff needed for the entire year is shipped to us "free" and a computer (per child enrolled) and internet access (reimbursement of $17.95 per child enrolled) are provided "free" as well.

My kids are very young (oldest of three is just now in first grade...others not yet in school) so we haven't had all that much experience with it. The experience we have had has been excellent.

It doesn't hurt to have a wife who has an Elementary Education degree either, but any dedicated parent should be able to do this without much problem (at least for younger grades).

Hopefully more states will follow PA's example and "sponsor" Cyberschooling for's money well spent IMHO.


eBooks (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410571)

In the past, there has been concern for the health of students carrying around heavy backpacks of books. Now, that weight is adding to the fuel bill.

Assume 20 lbs/student, times 60 students on a bus, that's 1200 lbs!

Keep your eBook at school, and use the PC at home.

Now, about the added eye strain...

Walk (1)

mrs clear plastic (229108) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410578)

Once upon a time when I was a little boy . . .

We walked 1 mile to school in the morning.

We walked 1 mile home for lunch.

We walked 1 mile to school for afternoon session

We walked 1 mile home at the finish of the day.

We not only had no busses, we did not have
a cafeteria.

It felt great! I always looked forward to those

Nobody even suggested we take a bus.

The only time mom ever drove me is if she had
to take me to the doctor's on the way to school
or some other errond.

How I long for those innocent, peacefull,
inspirational walks!

I think there is a nice solution right in our
own communities. Walking. Riding a bicycle.
Skating. Skateboarding.

Now that we have cafeterias, we don't need
the trip home for lunch.

If a little boy like me could walk to school
and back twice a day, then I would think that
many of the children today can walk the one
trip per day.


Mrs. Clear Plastic

not everyone can afford the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410580)

if you can afford a home that has a fiber connection, maybe you should help pay a little more in taxes to help those students who cannot afford any internet.

stop subsidizing sprawl (1)

catfoo (576397) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410590)

if parents want to live out in the hinterlands(far from thier town school) then they should have to pay the cost for transporting the kid in every day. or get the district to build satalite classrooms. while were at it lets stop subsidizing cheap gas/diesel.

Scrap Buses (1)

Maclir (33773) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410598)

Why bus kids to school? Build smaller neighbourhood schools, that kids can walk to. Get the off their bums, get some exercise, then we won't be raising a generation of obese slugs.

Simple, and no tech needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410617)

Just elect a US President whose family fortune wasn't made in oil.

Bush's family and friends are the beneficiaries of the price of gas, now well over twice what it was when Oil Baron Bush and his Haliburton friends were "elected" in 2000.

It's a good thing Kerry lost, imagine how much Ketchup would cost now!

Stop the waste first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410628)

stop them from throwing money down a rathole on Microsoft products and they will have more for gas.

Quite a poorly written question (1)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410633)

I don't mean to troll, but I have ot say that the question seems poorly written and completely off-base. Unless kids are now paying for school, I don't see how it's an issue for them to afford it or not, since the parents and taxpayers are the ones usually paying. The cost of busing children to school is more now that fuel is more costly, but if I were a parent dropping my child off at school or letting them drive I'd certainly be working hard on finding a carpool or making them use the bus.

Then the question goes off into another tangent about fiber and broadband in neighborhoods connected by fiber, and I assume the question goes something like this: "We have a lot of broadband... Why can't our kids stay home?" Well, going ont he false assumption that all families have access to broadband and that it will not cut anyone out of the process, your logic is still faulty.

You're saying the best way to cut a school's transporation costs are to eliminate buses and have them learn at home (full or part time). The concern is not the school's transportation costs, but the costs born by the parents.

If you take your kids to school, having them ride the bus instead is going to cut your fuel costs in a much quicker and direct manner than some overarching learn-over-the-internet plan. If your kids are already taking the bus, those fuel costs are a relatively small portion of your school taxes.

Once we finally get to the question, we are asked, "How can technology be better-implemented to ensure a student's studies and also lower the costs of fuel for the districts?"

That's a loaded question, in that you are assuming technology can lower the cost of fuel for the districts. (I don't want to be pedantic here, but I am assuming you mean total fuel costs, not cost of fuel per unit). Again, here the answer is that parents not driving their kids to school are not feeling a crunch because it would take the school district months or years to pass those rising costs through taxes; although you could argue they might lower other school expenditures, therefore still hurting the kids. For parents driving their kids to school... don't! Have them use the bus or carpool with a bunch of other kids. Not only does this cost you less, but you're directly showing your children responsible use of environmental and financial resources.

As far as using technology to ensure a student's studies, that's difficult as well. Technology can only open more avenues to possibly enhance student's studies, but it will never ensure it. Take a school library without internet access. One student might be doing research on aviation and another one might be goofing off. Put the internet in there. Now, one student is doing research online, and the other is goofing off online. Technology is only a tool, and not a solution.

FYI: Gas for 5 cents a gallon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13410634)

I've heard that in Iraq most people are actually only paying 5 cents for a gallon of gas. I cannot understand how the gap. Shipping gas from Iraq to US should not add up another 2.60 to the price tag.

Graph Theory (1)

redfirebmd (815070) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410646)

Nodes are the bus stops. Edge values could be distances-- but could also take into consideration uphill/downhill, number of stopsigns, and other things that would cause you to burn more fuel.

It becomes a more interesting problem because you have to start/end at the node representing the school, and you're not just traversing one big graph, you're optimizing a whole bunch of little traversals by X number of buses, that must when combined touch every node and return to the school.

Someone come up with an algorithm-- throw together a quick and dirty solution and save schools some gas money.

Other than that, I don't see how technology and the internet can minimize a schools fuel consumption by buses. Unless you get a majority of students to stay home to learn-- which is a bad idea for a whole bunch of reasons.

All Or Nothing (1)

anewsome (58) | more than 9 years ago | (#13410660)

The premise of using home schooling to reduce the state's cost of fueling the school buses is absurd. To do that would mean an all or nothing proposition. If you've got 50 kids on a school bus and 45 decide to opt for home schooling, you still have to get those 5 and take them to and from school. Depending on how many stops were actually able to be skipped, my guess is that the fuel savings is minimal.

Reason for kids not being able to be schooled at home are endless. Biggest one being THERE IS NO ONE THERE TO SUPERVISE THEM.

I don't know where you came from, but where I came from, kid's parents worked to put food on the table.
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