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Hey, New Prairie parents: Do you know what your kids are listening to?


By Chris Schable

LaPorte Herald-Argus

November 29, 2007


I'll be the first to admit that I'd rather be run over by a school bus than drive one full of kids for any length of time.

In my little world, bus drivers are listed in the book, "Who's Who Among America's Most Patient People."

And while I can't even imagine what it must be like to rumble through the countryside in a giant yellow brick on wheels with 30 or 40 elementary school kids screaming over my shoulder, I can imagine a world that is becoming more and more commercialized and where the distance between the playground and the marketplace is becoming narrower.

Without much fanfare and no public opinion, the New Prairie School Board approved a proposal earlier this week to allow BusRadio to be installed in all 38 buses in the corporation.

BusRadio is a Massachusetts-based company that claims its programming -- including eight minutes of advertising per hour -- helps calm children during their oh-so-stressful ride to school. The station provides top-40 music, news, contests, safety tips, and school-oriented material the company claims is "age and region appropriate."

According to published reports, BusRadio also claims it's a "behavioral tool" that "is designed specifically to improve bus safety."

I'm not going to pretend to be the moral compass for this issue. In fact, I tend to lean toward letting individuals make their own mistakes in life over telling someone how to live. You can't legislate morality. I believe and try my best to live by that motto.

What I will do, however, is caution the parents of New Prairie students.

For the sake of your children, go online and read up on this company. Attend the next school board meeting and ask some tough questions. Demand to see the information provided by the company to the school and then take that information and do some research to find out if the company lives up to its promises and whether those promises are good for your children.

And most importantly, find out what you gain as a parent, what your child gains as a customer of BusRadio and what your school corporation gains by having its controlled -- but not by the Federal Communications Commission -- information pumped into school buses and into the minds of our communities' youth.

I see it all the time in this business. Important, potentially life-changing issues come up in city council, county commission and school board meetings, but residents, and in this case, parents, sit back and let a handful of officials make decisions on issues that directly affect their lives.

Then later, when the damage is done, those same people who weren't paying attention or who chose their bowling league over the school board meeting or the movie theater over the city council meeting are outraged at the effect of the decision while they only have themselves to blame.

Be proactive on this issue, parents. The board claims there is no contract, so it's not too late to take a closer look.

Your kids won't think so, but your involvement would be the best Christmas gift you can give them this year.

And it won't cost you a dime.


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