The Tennessee Association for Pupil Transportation has started a nationwide grassroots effort to request that the U.S. Postal Service create a postage stamp to honor the jobs of school bus drivers.
The association’s board of directors decided on March 8 to organize the drive after bus driver Joyce Gregory was shot to death on the morning of March 2 by a student who was riding her bus in Cumberland City, Tenn. The 14-year-old was charged with first-degree murder in juvenile court.
“They’re sort of a forgotten group. They do their job every day very quietly. It was more or less a way to get some positive publicity out there,” Larry Riggsbee, the executive director of the association, said in explaining the idea behind a commemorative stamp for school bus drivers.
His group is asking supporters to write letters to petition the Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which recommends to the postmaster general what stamps should be printed. Through e-mails and word of mouth, the Tennessee association said, it has garnered support from the Albany, N.Y.-based National Association for Pupil Transportation, school transportation employees, and state and national education organizations.
It’s not easy to prevail in seeking a new stamp. The advisory committee receives about 50,000 letters each year for various stamp proposals, convening four times annually to review the letters, said Mark Saunders, a spokesman for the Postal Service.
After the committee selects and researches the stamp’s subject, design coordinators decide on the artwork. It takes about three years to produce a stamp.
The Tennessee association had an idea for a stamp honoring school bus drivers in the mid-1990s, but it didn’t go far.
“There wasn’t anything that truly motivated anyone to pick up a pen” to petition, said Mike Martin, the group’s executive director.
About 550,000 school bus drivers transport 24 million students to school every day, Mr. Martin said.
Transporting several hundred children a day on different runs can be challenging, Mr. Martin noted. Discipline problems that start in schools and neighborhoods can end up playing out on the bus. “It takes a pretty strong individual, a dedicated individual,” Mr. Riggsbee said.
Members of Ms. Gregory’s community, meanwhile, have set up a memorial fund to help her three children.