“When a young person makes the honor roll, I know he took a school bus to get to the school, but I don’t give the bus driver credit for the honor roll.” –Mitt Romney

School bus drivers nationwide reacted strongly to this remark by Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, which was recently highlighted in the Washington Post.

“School bus drivers are important. Gov. Romney’s attitude is that bus drivers don’t count, but I take pride in encouraging my kids when they get a good report card, and I tell them they’re doing excellent and building their future. We have a position where we can impact these kids and it’s an important responsibility,” said Terry Riley, a driver with Durham School Services in Albuquerque, N.M.

“Mr. Romney is entitled to his opinion, but since he wanted to bring up school bus drivers, school bus drivers drive the future of the country; what does Mr. Romney do?” said Bob Hollenbach, a driver for Cook County School Bus in Arlington Heights, Ill. and member of Local 777 in Lyons, Ill.

“Bus drivers are the ones that get the honor roll kids to school. If there were no bus drivers driving these kids to school, they wouldn’t be able to even get there to make the honor roll,” said Sebrina Isom, a 27-year driver for Durham in Beaufort, S.C and member of Cayce-based Teamsters Local 509. “Why in the world would he [Romney] make that statement? I guess he never rode a school bus or had his children ride the bus to school, otherwise he’d know to appreciate the efforts of school bus drivers,” Isom said.

Isom points out school bus drivers are often on the road before daybreak, picking up students and safely transporting them to school. A school bus driver is the first person a child sees on the way to school and the last person a child sees in the evening on his or her way home. School bus drivers are credentialed professionals entrusted with the safety of human beings, yet many, in particular nonunion drivers, are paid low wages with little to no benefits and difficult working conditions. What they share is a commitment to the children.

“School bus drivers deserve our appreciation and thanks for their hard work and for transporting our most precious cargo—children. I am proud that our union is at the forefront of driving up standards in the school bus industry and giving a voice to school bus workers nationwide,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

More than 35,000 school bus drivers, monitors, attendants, aides and mechanics have joined the Teamsters since 2006, as part of the Drive Up Standards national campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry.