School Bus Safety


@VDCdriver Too many administrators are like the sergeant in the book and movie “No Time For Sergeants”. The sergeant wanted everything smooth–no waves.
University administrators aren’t any better. We had to sign statements that we would give final exams at the specified time on the final exam schedule. I had no problem with this. However, a parent would call the administrator and want his or her son or daughter to take the final exam early so the family could leave on vacation. I once had a class of over 200 students and the Dean of my college informed me that I was to give the exam early to this student. I said that I wouldn’t break the University rules. The Dean became quite vehement that I would make an exception. I then called the University President and that ended the matter. The student took the exam as scheduled. If I had made the exception for one student, I would have had to do the same for any of the 200 students in the class.l


It also would have opened the possibility of cheating with that student telling others what was going to be on that test.


That is 100% the way things were when I was in school.


Yes, but it goes beyond that, in my experience.
Because of familial or political connections, it seemed that the people who were promoted to administrative positions were virtual drones in their lower positions (doing the absolute minimum, and doing it poorly…), but once they rose to a position of authority, they demanded that everyone do the things that they themselves had avoided doing, or had done very poorly.

It’s difficult to take orders from somebody whom you don’t respect, because he had no qualifications for his promotion other than… connections.


Not all colleges are that way. I know MIT, Harvard, RPI and WPI don’t operate that way…just to name a few.
I know one my son’s class at RPI - the students actually voted on what day and hour the final would be. Another did a paper in lieu of a final.


@MikeInNH To be more specific, we had to meet and have some activity in the scheduled final exam period. A paper might be required in place of s final exam and due at that period, but we were required to have a meeting.
With the size of the University where I taught, it would be utter chaos to have students vote on the day and time of the final exam. I always noted the date and time of the final exam on the syllabus that I handed out at the beginning of each semester.
I believe in final exams. I taught mathematics, statistics and computer science classes. It helped the students pull the material together. My final exams were neither multiple choice nor true/false. I spent many late hours grading these exams to get my grades in by the deadline.
My son had a course at the small college he attended. He was really looking forward to the class. A couple of weeks later, he told me that the course was a real disappointment. The professor came in and said “What would you like to do this semester”? In my son’s opinion, very little was done in the class. He said that when a professor comes in and makes such a statement that the students should pick up their books and walk out. The classroom isn’t a democracy. The professor should be there because of his/her expertise and the students should be there to gain expertise in the area.


@VDCdriver. My experience was the same as yours with many administrators. I had one administrator demand that I write a one page handout on a statistical program so that any person who had no knowledge of statistics could read the handout, know what statistic applied to his problem and run the program. Never mind the fact that the developers of the program had written a very thick manual on the software, I was to condense it down to one page.


My middle son graduated from RPI with a degree in Computer Science. And I also have an undergraduate degree in CS from SU. Both had same experiences with CS classes…90% of the grade was based on the programs we wrote. I don’t think the size of the school has much to do with it. Size of the classrooms is a much bigger factor.


Re- Parents not believing any reports of bad behavior by their children. I have been there when parents are shown a video with sound if their kids behavior on the bus. The parents reaction-“everybody knows you can fake a video these days”.


Reminds me why I hated final exams. It was always hot out and we didn’t have air conditioning back then and in the Spring had other things to do instead of sitting in a hot classroom writing in the blue books.

I did have one Summer class though where there were just five of us taking the class. It was a required credit for sociology or something. They didn’t know if they would cancel the class or not but because it was a requirement and would screw schedules up, they decided to go ahead and offer it. We studied about four novels like “The Old Man in the Sea”. It really was the most interesting class I ever took along with Economics. I can’t remember if we ever had a final or not or if it was just a last day general class discussion. I had time to golf in the afternoon and I drove there with my 59 Bug. My room mate drove the city bus in the afternoon instead of golfing, so it’s kind of related.


@MikeInNH. The weight I put on the programming assignments depended on the course. When I taught an assembly language course, I think the programming assignments were 70% of the grade. However , there was always problems on the exams for which I expected the students to write a short program. In the computer networking course I taught, the students were expected to write networking programs. I think these programs may have been about 40% of the grade. When I taught the data structures course, the students wrote programs to model stacks, queues, linked lists, hash tables, binary trees, etc. which counted for 50% of the grade. There was less programming in the hardware course I taught. One of the more difficult courses I had to teach was computer simulation. This course was my department chair’s baby. He became ill three weeks into the semester and called me in and asked me to finish the class. He was dying of pancreatic cancer and never came back. The course depends on statistical models and since my degree was in research design and statistics, he thought I was the most qualified to teach the course. After he asked me to finish the course, I hid in a study carrel in the library for two solid 8 hour days to get a handle on the course. I taught that course for 10 more years until I retired.
I hadn’t intended to teach any computer science classes. My doctorate was in research design and statistics. While working on that degree, I thought I should know something about computer programming, so I took the only two courses offered by the university at that time which were undergraduate courses. When I returned to the university where I spent my career, the department chair was moaning about the fact that we couldn’t offer enough money to attract computer science faculty. I was too dumb to keep my mouth shut and said that if we couldn’t hire computer science faculty, why couldn’t we ‘grow our own’. When my colleagues laughed at my suggestion, I enrolled in a graduate course at a university 60 miles away, taught a full load of computer classes on campus and commuted two nights a week to take the course. The following summer, I cut my pay in half and took two more courses. I paid the tuition and the commuting expenses.
The Dean then thought my idea was feasible and sent two of my colleagues away for a year to another university with their full salaries and paid their tuition. When I asked for the same privilege, I was told I was needed on campus to teach computer science courses. I learned as a country boy if there is something you need and don’t have the money to buy it, you find an alternative way to get what you need.
I will say this: teaching computer science courses is a lot more work than teaching mathematics courses. Had I kept my mouth shut, I would have taught mathematics courses and had the time to restore an MG Midget or Austin Healey Sprite which I always wanted to do.


Please, more discussion of your college experiences. I just can’t get enough…



Back to school bus safety: I remember when I started riding a school bus back in the late 1940s. The bus, like the other buses in the district did not have flashing stoplights on either the front or rear of the bus. There was just a single lone unlit stop arm on the left side of the bus. There was only an outside rear view mirror on the left side of the bus. The buses didn’t even have sealed beam headlights as these didn’t come along until 1940. The buses had hydraulic brakes, but no power assist. The buses did not have turning signals. The buses had vacuum wipers that stalled on the windshield when the accelerator was depressed. Today’s buses have multiple flashing stoplights front and rear, turning signals, a strobe light on the top for bad weather conditions, two lit stop signs on the left side of the bus, air brakes, electric wipers, multiple mirrors, etc. Yet, we didn’t have tragic accidents like the recent one in New Jersey or the one a year ago in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The point is that no matter how safe you make the bus, it can’t make up for an incompetent driver. We should insist on competent drivers. The safety equipment on buses add to the cost. It makes just as much sense to pay more for competent drivers.


My wife was an English teacher and needed a continuing ed course in the summer. Our Alma matter was offering a course in CP/M programming for about a week if I remember right. She didn’t know what it was and up to that point had only worked on Apples for text and grades etc., and not math/science/ computer literate. Boy did she get a surprise like being in a course to learn Mandarin or something. She made it through only with the help of a classmate that knew what he was talking about. She was very careful what she signed up for after that. I too would have been lost so my hats off to you folks.


It does, but in fairness, a lot of those systems (the stop signs, flashy lights, stop arms, etc) are because other drivers are idiots. Braindead fools who can’t get their nose out of Facebook Mobile long enough to notice that a big yellow thing is stopped in front of them and is discharging little kids into their path.


@Bing. I remember my first experience with a computer. I was allowed to start in the second statistics course in the sequence due to my background. On the first day of class, we were each paired with another student and each pair was to run an analysis of variance design on the data contained in the punch cards. We were to keypunch the following cards to go with the data were given:
JOB (5063,TDQ)
EQUIP, 5=60
EQUiP, 6 =61
(4(1X, F8.2))
{Data deck goes here}

My partner had never been in a computer, so we were the blind leading the blind. When we got our printout back, we had over 100 sheets of blank pages. I went to an expert in the computer center who looked at the cards I had punched and said to me in a condescending voice: You don’t spell it PROBLEM. You spell it PROBLM". I had put in an E that didn’t belong. I got scared, went through drop and add day and signed up for a computer class. I went to the room and took a seat in the 3rd row. The professor came in and said something in s language I didn’t understand and the class answered back in the same language. “My gosh, they learn the computer language by speaking it and I’ve missed a week already”. Then the prof went down the first row and asked each student a question in this strange language. The student responded in this language. When the prof got to the middle of the second row, I finally asked the student next to me what class I was in. “Third year Japanese”, she replied. The classrooms had been switched.
At any rate, I learned that in the statistics class we were running a canned program. The program had been written for IBM equipment where the card reader was unit 5 and the printer was unit 6. My institution had Control Data equipment where the card reader was unit 60 and the printer unit 61. The program was written in FORTRAN and FORTRAN only allowed 6 characters to name a variable. The authors of the program wanted to use PROBLEM as a variable name, but PROBLEM has 7 letters, so they threw out the E.
However, the only thing that kept me from leaving graduate school was that we lived in married student housing on the 5th floor in a building with no elevator and my back hurt too bad from the move in that I didn’t have the energy to move out.


I would rather read about their lawn mowers…


All I can say is Uff Da, but I am extremely happy that some folks understand this stuff. The lawyer on the radio was talking about sending his kid to a school not of his religion and he suggested that when she heard a contrary word to just put her fingers in her ears. For written stuff its even easier to avoid. Now on to lawn mowers.


They still teach that? I guess for an exercise in logic. I was taught it, but back then it was necessary…Today…all that is built in.

A lot of colleges are dropping assembly language as a requirement also. Nice to know, but not needed.

What I see lacking in colleges computer science curriculum these days is teaching them design patterns and BEST programming practices. It is something I always have to teach new hires.

Bringing this back to cars…One reason for a lot of programming standards is the ability to write good consistent code. Many industries are DEMANDING it. In fact one company that designed a Cat-Scan was sued because someone was injured by the machine. The team of lawyers determined that the company wasn’t using BEST practices in their design and implementation.

The autonomous cars being designed today are all following BEST practices. It really helps to minimize programming bugs.


@MikeInNH I am sure that much has changed in the computer science curriculum since I retired seven years ago.
The one advantage of teaching assembly language programming is that it helps students understand how the computer functions which should help them design more efficient programs. The same could be said for a data structures course where students investigate running time for algorithms–log time, linear time, quadratic time, etc.
To me, there is an analogy with being an automobile technician. The more the person understands how an automobile functions, the better the technician is at solving a problem and the less likely he will be just a parts changer. (I probably shouldn’t use an automobile analogy. In one class when I was introducing a new piece of software, I said to learn the basics of what it does first–then you can add the special features. I said it’s like driving a car. I know only 4 things about driving a car. You turn the wheel clockwise to right, counterclockwise to go left, the rightmost pedal makes it go and the pedal to the left makes it stop. I have no idea how to work the heating and air conditioning, so Mrs. Triedaq roasts me in the winter and freezes me in the summer. I have no idea how the sound system works. My son has it set on a rock station at 100 decibels. I don’t bother learning how to turn on the lights or wipers because these features are for wimps. However, by knowing the four basic things, I can drive my car anyplace I need to go. First learn the basics of the software then you can add the other features just as sometime I may learn how the other features of my car are used. One graduate student in the class had to see my wife who worked in the graduate office. He saw my picture on her desk and asked, "Does your husband really drive his car without using the lights or wipers ?
At any rate, in my thinking, computing is a science. That is why it is called “computer science” with the emphasis on “science”. There is a distinction between computer science and computer technology. I have been through numerous discussions about that. I haven’t been in on computer science curriculum discussions since I retired. I did manage in my years of teaching computer science classes to learn that I don’t punch cards anymore and I don’t have to show the students how to use the keypunch. I’ll bet I am the only person on this board that can create a drum card so that the keypunch will automatically space to the correct field when entering data.