Friday Folly: Internet Café or School Bus?


Perhaps there is some justification for legislation – S.33 – that would mandate the installation of wireless Internet access in all K-12 schools in South Carolina. Whether or not this is something that state government should mandate or pay for is, of course, an open question. But where S.33 veers into the realm of the absurd is in its mandate that school buses also have wireless internet access for students.

The bill would require all school buses in the state, or at least buses that meet the statutory requirements of South Carolina Code section 59-67-10, to have wireless internet access for students. Funding for installing wireless internet would go to school districts that rank higher on the poverty index.

Here’s where the strange part begins: Sschool districts that receive funding for wireless access on buses would have to make these wireless buses available to students on days when school is not in session, to include weekends and summers. S.33 would turn, in effect, every school bus in the state into a 24/7 Internet cafe.

Some of the questions that arise from this bill would have to include:  Who would staff the Internet enabled buses on the weekends, or during the summer? Would the buses have to be running during these times?  Will there need to be people hired solely for the purposes of sitting in wireless enabled school buses on nights and weekends? Do the buses need to be in motion when operating as internet cafes? More importantly, though: In an age when school kids can’t take their eyes off their phones, why would the state virtually mandate that school kids keep their faces glued to their phones even while on the bus?

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