Thursday, October 25, 2018

Why don't Irish people care about school bus safety?

Senator Ross is the Minister for Transport but he "cannot make any demands" as to how school buses operate because it is the remit of a different government department, the Department of Education. Give me a break!

This is a crazy situation and Minister Ross should step up and say so. His department is responsible for vehicle safety and driver testing but not for school buses? Why not?

I've long thought Irish people are, at best, indifferent to the safety of the children that have to ride "school buses." Even the phrase "school bus" is misleading because as far as I can tell from my own observations most of the school buses are just old buses that the owners – sometimes – slap a bit of yellow paint on. They are transport to school but they are not school buses as anyone in America would understand them.

In NY State (and I think most states are pretty much the same) school buses are tested by state officials (NY State Dept of Transportation), the drivers are required to pass state tests (NY State Dept of Transportation) and there are laws regarding what a school bus must look like (including the school bus chrome shade of yellow) and how drivers on the road are to supposed to react when they see a stopped school bus (all NY State Dept of Transportation). School bus drivers are not simply bus drivers – they have to pass an additional test about school buses before they can drive a school bus.

The buses themselves are built for safety and have lights and stop signs that warn drivers that children are possibly going to be crossing the road, etc. The traffic stops when a school bus stops. The children are drilled in safe crossing and riding.

From what I've seen none of this happens in Ireland. This could be fixed with a little commitment but the state and the schools see the school bus as a gift from the gods to those who need them and don't believe they should have to make any effort to make the buses safer.

Changes needed must include:
  • training in how to safely cross students for both drivers and students
  • lights and reflective tape and paints and a standardized color scheme to make school buses stand out and easily identified
  • proper inspections of the vehicles by state operators – every six months
  • a commitment to improve the school bus stock so that within a reasonable timeframe all school buses are properly fitted, have reinforced frames, etc for maximum student safety.
Irish school children should not die on faulty or badly maintained buses or due to poorly trained drivers or due to poor safety training with regards to crossing roads, etc. Come on Minister Ross, work up a plan and see if you can find someone in the Department of Education who is willing to offload this responsibility to where it should right lie.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thank you Donald for causing Florence to weaken

Yesterday a Washington Post editorial on Hurricane Florence said Pres Trump was "complicit" in the storm's threat. That was because yesterday the storm looked like it was going to be one of the biggest to ever make landfall as far north as the Carolinas.

Usually those who make the case for doing something about climate change say that climate change cannot be linked to one-off weather events, but as far as the Washington Post is concerned, that's not true.

So, if Donald Trump was complicit in making Florence a category 4 hurricane I guess we all should get on our knees and thank the president for causing the storm to weaken to a category 2 storm today.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Dear God! Common sense on Irish immigrants?

"Giving the 10,500 US citizens living in Ireland a special deal on residency could unlock a remedy for the tens of thousands of Irish illegal immigrants in the US who are trapped in a legal nightmare, a leading campaigner has said. "

I can't believe I've just read this. I've only been saying – for about 20 years – that the Irish government needs to abandon the broad immigration reform for a specific deal with the US government that includes a quid pro quo.

It's far too sensible. It has an actual chance of getting support from the current ruling party in Congress and the White House. It could WORK.

I'm sure it's far too sane. The Irish government will surely say 'No' to Billy Lawless.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Ireland's "best performing schools" - would be great if someone knew how to measure such things

This sort of thing drives me nuts – "Revealed: Ireland's best-performing schools - including those with 100pc record of sending students to college." The "best performing" schools are those that send the most students to college.

Okay, first of all, why does that make them the "best performing" schools. They may be the "best" at churning out college-bound secondary school students, but is that the only 'performance' that matters? I'd say not. I'd say the best performing schools are those who churn out productive, well-rounded citizens who will be a credit to the nation (and a worthwhile investment of our tax money). I'd say we should try to measure this and then pronounce on which are the "best performing" schools in the country.

But even if we accept that getting kids into college is the only way to measure a school's performance, why should we accept that the outcome – students going on to college from second level – is the best measure. This implies that somehow every school starts off with the same people and the best schools are those that get the highest number of those interchangeable students into college. That's a load of twaddle and everybody knows it.

Some schools simply have smarter, more diligent students entering in first year. They make their way through the 5-6 years of second level education and come out the other end with college placements. Other schools have students who have already found school challenging, who don't come from the sort of background that values education, and/or who aren't of a mind to make much effort at all.

One of those schools with struggling students may well be the "best performing" school in the country if they get a half dozen of their students into 3rd level. How can we know since we have no real statistics on our education outputs normalized for the inputs? For all we know, some school with only one student heading to college could well get 100% of their students into college if they got the same students in the door as Presentation Brothers College in Cork (No. 1 in the Independent's list).

You can stuff your "best performing" nonsense until you explain how you have accounted for the ability and preparation and support from family of the students who enter each school you're measuring.