The Miami-Dade School Board is weighing a proposal by School Board member Carlos Curbelo that would turn over the transportation services of our children to the for-profit sector. This should trouble parents and taxpayers for many reasons.
As a graduate of MAST Academy, one of Miami-Dade’s premier public schools, I depended on the school systems transportation services. I woke up every morning at 4:30 a.m. and hopped on the bus by 5:15 a.m. to get to school on time. I remember my bus driver perfectly and the care she had for each of us who boarded her bus every morning.
I share my experience because Curbelo’s proposal is alarming given that there haven’t been examples of waste, fraud and abuse in the system. Worse, the hardworking employees who transport our schoolchildren every day must feel they are under attack. More important, the logic for privatizing core government services is flawed for one reason alone. For-profit entities have to make a profit to survive and when they do not, they look for ways to cut costs. This in turn negatively impacts the quality of service taxpayers receive from the private entities.
I am all for exploring ways to achieve cost savings in government budgets. However, privatizing essential government services should not be the solution. The School Board must not be penny wise, pound foolish when it comes to the safety and transportation of our school children. I hope Curbelo’s colleagues reject this proposal and look for more sensible ways to invest in our schools. Maybe Curbelo could nudge Gov. Rick Scott and his Republican colleagues in the Florida Legislature to reverse the education budget cuts they did over the last three years. That would be more wise and a sure way to increase funding for our education system.
Christian Ulvert, Miami