Michael J. Daly Bus 25 rumbles into the future
As reliable a sign of changing times as the first frost, Bus 25 rumbled down Edgewood Road in Fairfield Thursday, hissing locomotive-like to a stop at the driveway of Matt and Eileen Dorney.
There, eight little scholars from the neighborhood — attended to by their entourages of parents, grandparents, siblings and a curious neighbor — lined up at the door, reporting for duty on the first day of school.
They were a stoic lot this year, no drama, boarding with new backpacks and assorted other first-day-of-school finery, the smallest of them, when seated, just able to peer over the bottom of the bus windows.
Unlike in past years, there were no sudden meltdowns or tears evident — neither parental nor from the scholars. The door whooshed shut, the brakes hissed in release, and off went Bus 25, the whole ritual over in a matter of minutes.
It’s a ritual that played out at driveways and corners all around the state as a new school year — to some, the true New Year’s Day — begins. The ritual now will be observed every weekday, more or less, over the next nine months.
For some parents, it’s the start of nine months of a certain type of freedom, kids out from under foot for at least a few hours each day.
It’s also a reminder about the importance of teachers in our lives.
Bus 25 carried its cargo to Fairfield’s Stratfield School where, as at every other school, a cadre of teachers and school administrators would take responsibility for the care of these children for six hours, say, every day.
That’s a weighty load.
The Bus 25 kids are, by many measures, fortunate kids. They live in a nice neighborhood in a nice town, have attentive parents and go to a school in a safe neighborhood.
Would that that could be said for every child heading off to school this year.
Consider teachers in Bridgeport, many of whose students bring into the classroom with them the concerns, hunger, fears and other trappings of the neighborhoods they live in.
Pinched budgets around the state, particularly in its cities, keep forcing cutbacks in teacher aides, specialists in various fields,
Connecticut is in a mess now, just another example of, among other things, politicians securing their own futures by trading employee benefits for support.
The true price of these devil’s bargains don’t become clear — or come due — until years, decades down the road. While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has borne the crushing weight of state employee pensions and health benefits, they were not of his making.
To his credit, though, the governor has taken steps to address them. But he will be gone at the end of this year.
Three men are campaigning to take the job: Democrat Ned Lamont, a Greenwich tech magnate; Oz Greibel, a Hartford business man who petitioned his way on to the ballot; and Republican Bob Stefanowski, of Madison, a former GE and UBS executive.
This is a particularly important year for Bus 25 riders and for all the school children of Connecticut.
They, however, cannot vote on Nov. 6.
So the responsibility for deciding how their futures will be affected falls to the parents and the communities that nurture the bus riders.
Moms, dads and the rest of the entourages, take a close look at these guys. One of them is going to play a big role in securing solid education and a promising future for the little scholars.
Michael J. Daly is editor of the editorial page of the Connecticut Post. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.