Monitors in School Buses
This research paper features Tzemech Tzaddak Viznitz School located in the Williamsburg Borough of Brooklyn, New York. The school is geared for boys who mostly come from the Hasidic group of Viznitz. There are many classes per grades, starting from Nursery to Grade 6. There are both low income and high income families in the school. Most of the staff in the school is from the Viznitz Hasidic group. There has been a recent scare in the school, when one of the school buses was involved in a collision while bussing children. This has led to many parents questioning the safety of school buses. Parents were concerned that the current manner in which the school buses the children to and from school are not compatible with safety regulations. Even though the school follows all government mandated safety rules when it comes to the children’s safety, the parents have expressed a lack of confidence that safety regulations were being followed.
After the school showed that safety regulations, in regard to school buses, were being followed as mandated by the government, the parents were still concerned about their child’s safety. The parents expressed concern that the children were not behaving on the buses and this can lead to the bus driver becoming distracted while driving. They were concerned that if the school bus driver has to be busy with disciplining the children, then he will lose concentration on the road. This then will increase the chances of a collision. There is much literature on school bus safety that provides information on the distractibility of the drivers and how it affects driving safety. One of the reasons for collisions on school buses is the distraction of the driver. When a driver is distracted it takes him or her a longer time to react to the changes on the road. The driver does not have enough time to reduce their speed or increase headway (Caird et al., 2008).
Other parents have expressed concern that the bus driver is occupied with searching for the right addresses when they drop off the children or when they pick them up. This, they are concerned, distracts the driver from being focused on the road. They are concerned that the driver is occupied with looking at the GPS, rather than on the road. This increases the drivers’ distractibility and may cause collisions. This concern was addressed in the literature. Research shows that drivers tend to get distracted by gadgets and travelers. Distractions include speaking on a cell or with other passengers, entering information into a GPS or looking for songs on a music player (Horrey, 2011). There are also unique distractions for school bus drivers, which are operating bus doors, being in a rush to complete the timetable and passenger behavior which may be unruly or the passenger may be asking questions (Salmon et al., 2011).
The idea for change would be to put in bus monitors into the buses. These monitors would ensure that the children are disciplined and well behaved. The monitors will also be responsible to inform the driver where to make stops and will take messages from parents and the children for the driver. In addition, the bus monitor will handle the GPS device as well as the music player. All this will eliminate distractions for the driver and will ensure that the driver will focus exclusively on the road.
It is often difficult or impossible to start and run a new program idea on one’s own. To initiate a new change in agencies, or in this case, the school, it is necessary for the social worker to muster support from various sources. The social worker can get support through putting together an action system. This group would “gather the resources and influence, represent the objectives of the new program and argue for its support in the community. Additionally, the action system can help identify the primary goals for the suggested program; specify which client system will benefit from it; target potential resources for the program, such as financial resources; and share information, and the goals and objectives about the program with other groups” (as cited in Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 259).
To muster support in this manner, the social worker will have to choose motivated people who would be interested in putting together a program where monitors will be hired for school bus safety. As a first step, the social worker will choose individuals who have an influential pull in the community, such as community leaders who run the Hasidic Visnitz organization. These people can advocate effectively for the community, especially those advocates who are concerned with child safety. The community leaders are well known in the Hasidic Viznitz community and can be contacted by meeting them in the synagogue or at their offices. Meetings can be scheduled through writing emails or making phone calls.
In addition to mustering support from community leaders, the social worker can muster support from the school administration. The school administration, as well as the school board is focused on providing safety for the students under their care. They are responsible to ensure that the students are safe by the government. They also need to answer to the parents’ concerns and request for added safety measures for their children. Professionals, who have an increased interest in the subject of change, can lend support and greater credibility to a new program (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015).
The social worker needs to take on three approaches in order to identify and maximize assets: “preparing the agency for change, conducting a feasibility study and soliciting necessary financial resources” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 262). To prepare the school to initiate the changes in the safety of the school buses, by putting in monitors, the social worker would first need to identify the individuals who can help. The target system in the Viznitz School, are the principal and vice principal. They have direct contact with the board of directors of the school and can be the go-to people for change to occur.
Second, it would be necessary for the social worker to enhance his legitimacy (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015), through collecting information about the safety needs of the children and the benefits of a monitor on school buses. Third, would be for the social worker to “increase the stress level and sense of urgency, related to the need for program development” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 263). To promote the stress to change things, the social worker needs to point out the lack of safety on the school buses, due to the unruly behavior of the students on the bus and the bus drivers’ focus on the children rather than exclusively on the road. Pointing out the recent scare of the bus collision, can help the school feel the need to put in monitors into the buses.
Conducting a feasibility study is a second aspect of identifying assets. This requires the social worker to make a “systematic evaluation of resources necessary to achieve program development goals” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015 p. 263). To conduct a feasibility study, the social worker needs to identify how much it will cost to put in school bus monitors and train them. The social worker can use five potential sources for resources, such as “grants, assistance from local government, private donations by agencies or individuals, services and goods donated by other agencies, and volunteers” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 263).
The goals of developing a program where monitors will be installed in school buses, is to enhance the safety of the school buses and to reduce the chances that the bus driver will be distracted from driving. This will ensure the safe transportation of the students to and from school. The primary purpose of putting in school bus monitors is to assist the school bus drivers to carry out their responsibilities in regard to the safety of the students, who use the school bus services.
The objective is to hire and train school bus monitors, who are familiar with the student’s needs and who have experience disciplining students. The bus monitors would need to be a teacher in the school or someone who has experience with children. To hire monitors, the social worker with a colleague will, as a first step, request a meeting with all teachers in the school. At the meeting, the social worker will explain the need for bus monitors and make a request of the teachers to take on the job. In the event that not enough teachers will be willing to take on the job, the social worker can make a request for individuals within the community, who may be willing and capable to act as school bus monitors in the morning and afternoon hours. These individuals will be recruited from the community synagogue. There are numerous adults who study the Talmud full time in a Talmudical school in the local synagogue. These adults generally have the morning and afternoon hours free. They may be willing, for remuneration, to take on a part time job, due to the small stipend that they receive for learning in the Talmudical college.
These individuals will need to be trained on school bus safety and on disciplining students. The social worker will provide training for these monitors, by giving them classes on the elements of discipline, how to enforce rules consistently and persistently and how to implement consequences effectively. The training will take place in the school grounds and will be administered by professional teachers, who have experience with discipline. The training will take three, two hour sessions and will be paid for by the school.
To implement the new program, the social worker needs to consider the receptiveness, of the identified target system, to the new idea (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015). To influence the appropriate school personnel to provide support, the social worker needs to determine three basic aspects. First, the social worker needs to decide which people will be most likely to provide support for the idea and be able to convince others. For this project, the social worker can determine that the principal would support the idea due to his interest in the safety of the children. The principal has contact with the board of directors and can influence them to provide support to implement monitors in buses.
Because the social worker has a good relationship with the principal, through their joint focus on the safety for the children, the principal would be a good person to target the change. The principal is very concerned about the safety of the students and has a vested interest in the safety of the students. In addition, the principal has influence with the board of directors and other members of the Viznitz community. The board of directors makes decisions in the school and they tend to consider the feasibility for change. Second to consider is who should present the proposal. In this case, it would be good if the principal proposes the need for change. The principal is the one who gets phone calls and requests for meeting from the parents. These parents are expressing their concern about their children’s safety on the school buses to the principal. The principal hears firsthand about the breaches in safety that goes on in the school buses from the bus driver as well. The bus driver complains to the principal about the unruly behavior of the children on the bus. He expresses his concern about becoming distracted from the behaviors of the children and their requests.
A third element to consider is how to present the safety issues, goals and objective to the target system. In this case, the principal can share with the board of directors, the complaints and safety concerns of the parents and of the school bus driver. The principal can also bring evidence from the literature on the safety concerns that go on in school buses. In addition, evidence can be brought about the benefit of installing school bus monitors in the buses.
In addition, putting forth the proposed changes, to reflect the different aspect of the agency’s value system, can be influential (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015). The value system of the school is to increase the academic level of the children in an environment that is productive to learning. This requires that the children feel emotionally and physically safe so that they can focus on learning and not on procuring safety. Therefore, incorporating how putting in monitors in the school buses can be helpful to increase the safety needs of the children may influence the principal and board of directors to implement the changes. Implementing the monitor program requires the “nurturing of support from staff, considering a trial run, starting out small and formalizing necessary contracts” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 265). To nurture the support of school staff, it is important to explain in detail the importance of installing monitors in the school buses and answer any questions the school staff may have. In addition, the social worker needs to continuously garner support from the staff, thank them for working together and monitor any changes that may occur to make sure that the program remains on track.
At the beginning, the program needs to be tried out on a few clients for a short period of time. By doing this, flaws can be identified and the program can be improved (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015). Starting out small would mean that the school would put in a monitor into one school bus, to see the feasibility of such an arrangement. The monitor will be trained by an experienced teacher and his activities will be monitored to ensure that things run smoothly. Formalizing contracts is another important element to plan implementation, because it can solidify agreements made by the target of change (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015). The school can formalize contracts with students of Talmudical study, who would be willing to come in during the morning and afternoon hours to monitor the children on the school buses.
Neutralizing the Opposition
To neutralize the opposition, the social worker needs to anticipate a “honeymoon period, and the maintenance of ongoing administrative support” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, 265). When the program starts out there can be a honeymoon period, where everyone is enthusiastic about the program. However, after a while, as the honeymoon phase passes, there can be problems that crop up. The problems that can crop up are that there may not be enough funds to pay for the training of the bus monitors. In addition, money is required to pay the bus monitors for their work monitoring the children and this may pose a problem when there are not enough funds to cover the costs. To defuse the resistance that there is not enough funds to cover the costs of the training and monitors, the social worker can promote fundraising. In addition, the social worker can try to procure volunteers, who may be willing to monitor the children and/or train the monitors.
A second problem that can crop up is that the children may resent that there is a monitor who limits their activities and tells them how to behave. The children, especially in the older grades, are not used to being monitored and they may consider it be childish and an affront to their maturity. The children may then bully the monitors and otherwise not obey his directives. To diffuse the resistance, the monitors’ activities will be connected to the school rules and administrations. The monitor will report unruly behavior to the principal and this will reflect in the child’s report card. The bus driver may be another person who may oppose the implementation of a bus monitor on the school bus. The bus drivers may take it as an affront to their capabilities that there needs to be a monitor on the bus. Some drivers may consider themselves capable of managing the children while maintaining a focus on the road. To defuse the resistance from the bus drivers, the social worker will bring evidence from peer reviewed literature that bus drivers can become distracted by the children’s unruly behavior and by other factors, such as managing the music player and using the GPS.
To evaluate the feasibility of the program it is important to consider various elements. First to consider would be to “compare the program’s success with clients to the success of a similar group of clients not involved in the program” Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 392). As of such, the social worker would compare the program of school bus monitors to other schools that have school bus monitors already in place. “The group used for comparison purposes that is not receiving the intervention is called a control group” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 392). The “dependent variable is that which we are most interested in understanding, measuring or predicting” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 392). In this case, the dependent variables are the unruly behaviors of the students on the bus and the distractibility of the bus drivers. The students’ unruly behavior causes the bus driver to have to discipline them and this reduces their concentration on the road. Other factors that can distract the bus driver are the student’s request to put on or change the music on the music player, the changes in the bus route when picking up or dropping off students and manipulating the GPS system.
The “independent variable is that which we believe is likely to influence, cause or contribute to particular phenomenon” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 392). In this case, the independent variable is the school bus monitors that will be put into all school buses. The bus monitors will be trained by professional teachers about how to maintain order on the bus and the needs of the bus driver to maintain a focus on the road. “A random sample is one in which every member of a population has an equal chance of being selected for inclusion in the sample” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 392). The random sample is taken to determine if the program is operating effectively. This sample will be taken from the school bus drivers who currently operate the buses. In addition, there will be a control group of bus drivers, randomly selected from other schools that do not have monitors in place.
“The most elaborate method for evaluating a program’s efficacy is to use an experimental design, which involves attempts to manipulate the intervention to determine whether changes occur in a target group (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 393). To know whether putting in monitors into the school bus is effective, an experimental design would be to add to, discontinue or modify the monitor program to determine whether it affects the distractibility of the drivers. The design will use a control group of drivers who do not have the help of monitors on their buses. To measure the baseline of the distractibility of the bus drivers would require the measurement of how many times the driver gets distracted during the bus route, the intensity of the distraction and the duration of the distraction. In addition, the baseline would require measuring the type of distractions that distract the bus driver. The baseline data will be collected from a “future-oriented approach” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2015, p. 393). Data will be gathered from when the school agrees to put in monitors and train them and the beginning of the intervention of putting in the trained bus monitors. Because it is necessary to train the monitors, there will be enough time to measure the baseline. After four weeks of putting in bus monitors, the drivers’ distractibility will be measured again as for the baseline. The frequency, intensity and duration of the drivers’ distractions will be measured through the use of a survey directed at the drivers.
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