By the time you read this issue of SBF, two important events should be on your “yellow” radar screen: the NAPT Summit in Memphis, Tenn., and the presidential and congressional elections.
The presidential campaign is approaching the finish line, and you may well be tired of the political ads, conflicting polls, Internet forwards from friends, robocalls for donations and talking heads pontificating on TV.
Sadly, that’s how many of us feel — burned out by the process that seems to begin earlier every election cycle. Our political discourse is now so contentious that we hear little about actual issues that interest and affect us, and mostly a steady stream of personal attacks on the candidates.
Maybe this negativity is why only about 57% voted in the last presidential election. Imagine, with vexing economic, international and other issues facing us, just over half the electorate decides the course of our country.
In November 2012, the presidential choice is between two candidates with very different views of how the country should be governed. As a non-partisan organization, NAPT doesn’t take sides. But we do believe that every eligible citizen has a civic duty to vote his or her conscience.
Just as many in the country don’t participate in elections, leaving it to others to chart the road ahead, the same holds true for many professions, and in that regard school transportation is no exception.
Today more than ever, there are significant economic, safety and other issues on the table for pupil transportation professionals. Experiences in your state regarding budget cutbacks, high-profile incidents and more should be shared with your peers in other states and vice versa. NAPT offers the ideal place to collaborate and network with people who share your interests.
The 2012 NAPT Summit in particular will be chock full of workshops and speakers who understand the challenges you face, and it will offer ideas to make you better at what you do.
We are privileged to have two prominent federal safety officials at the top of our ticket this year:
• National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Christopher A. Hart headlines our blockbuster federal session. His remarks on “Troubling Transportation Safety Trends” will be important for all school transportation professionals to hear.
• Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will discuss actions by her agency to prevent crashes and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.
The rest of our slate is just as impressive:
• Alan Brunacini, former chief of the Phoenix Fire Department, has been described as “one of the legendary fire chiefs in America.” Brunacini uses words like “simple,” “basic,” and “common sense” when he describes the management philosophy that has made him one of the most respected and admired men in fire service. Learn why and how Brunacini is still making a difference and how you can use his leadership philosophy to make a difference, too.
• Melinda Jacobs, Esq., is a private practice attorney specializing in special-education law since 1985. Since 1996, she has exclusively represented school systems in special-education matters pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504. She utilizes humor and song to fashion a presentation that is eminently listenable.
• Michael Eugene, chief operating officer of Orange County (Fla.) Public Schools, will discuss performance indicators. His school system won the “Managing for Results Achievement Award” from the Council of Great City Schools, an organization representing more than 60 of the largest urban school districts in the U.S. Learn why and how Orange County delivers higher quality services at lower costs compared to other large school districts.
NAPT is viewed around the world as the leader in pupil transportation know-how. There will be a panel discussion about our global initiative to help other countries achieve excellence in yellow transportation. Learn in particular about our partnership with the Emirate of Dubai and the conference we’re co-sponsoring there next year.
Want more reasons to go to Memphis from Oct. 20 to 25? How about this one: Do you know where student behavior management ends and law enforcement begins? Recent high-profile incidents have blurred the line of demarcation. We have assembled a panel of law enforcement experts and others who will discuss this seemingly ubiquitous and troubling topic.
The agenda also includes workshop discussions on key performance indicators, how to survive budget cuts, violence and bullying on the bus and much more. You can even become professionally certified, choose from 15 different NAPT certification classes, participate in our Leading Every Day initiative and take advantage of our unique training program on special-needs transportation.
If you’re facing a problem in your district, chances are someone else has already been in your shoes and can lend a helpful perspective. If you have questions, we have answers, but you have to vote with your feet.
In the meantime, go to www.naptonline.org/summit for more information.
Barry McCahill is president of McCahill Communications Inc. and NAPT public affairs consultant.