Drivers Ed in the End


Paul Medrud, Editor


The dream of every sixteen year old at OHS is a simple one; picture this. Rolling up in the car of your own, showing how cool you are every morning by driving to school,and showing off your amazing ride. But that dream may no longer be a reality, as after this winter session of Drivers Ed the class is going to the great beyond, and all the students can do is to wonder. What happened to cause such a class to fall through the cracks and into the abyss, and what can be done about it?

What has to be answered straight away is why? Why is Drivers Ed ending? To answer this question OHS Principal Mr. Grant answers “Our school was not the only school in the district affected by this closing, this was a region wide closing going from Vancouver, Washington up to Tacoma. While ours made money, this closing still affected us” To get an even more detailed view Drivers Ed Teacher Mr. Elway says “The organization that runs programs like Drivers Ed is called ESD 113, and this shutdown even includes areas in Eastern Washington. The only areas not affected by this closing is the Everett/Seattle area due to Drivers Ed being a part of the curriculum.” He expands on how this happened, saying “There was a lack of leadership in most areas, while Olympia had at most 50 students per class with tons of drivers and people willing to teach the classes, places in smaller districts out in Eastern Washington had drawn the same number of students with only a fraction of the teachers. This is why while Olympia made money and had a thriving Drivers Ed program, still had to close down.”

The question now is what to do about this closing, Grant refers to the current opportunities for OHS students right now, saying “The only opportunities for students are the 9/11 driving school and Cascade. The issue with them is that they could cost more money for the same education that you may be getting from the OHS driving school…when my kids were going through Drivers Ed they understood all the concepts. With 9/11 and Cascade you might be getting a varied degree of quality.” This also taps into a larger issue. With these new classes that might be more expensive, this could mean that lower income students won’t be getting Drivers Ed. Elway dispels this rumor, noting “A lot of districts still have Drivers Ed and even with the more expensive classes it’s always possible for people to have financial aid when it comes to paying for the class.”

But what can we do to bring Drivers Ed back? Grant says “It’s possible for us to bring back Drivers Ed but the situation we’re in with the budget cut that leaves us with less money in general, it’s going to be tough for us to come up with the funds to sustain this kind of class.” Elway also talks about the end of Drivers Ed, stating, “By the end of this session in February we’re going to have no cars, no drivers, and nothing. For the people that work as teachers and drivers it’s tough luck when it comes to their work, they could go work for a commercial place or they go to some other industry. So the idea of bringing back this class would be a lot tougher, we’ll have to get our cars back, new teachers, new everything. And it’s a tougher undertaking than it seems.”

So while Olympia High School Students are all mourning the death of Drivers Ed, people can always turn towards the future of a new class, and as Elway says “A lot of people want Drivers Ed back, but what can you do about it? Sometimes people don’t get what they want and stuff happens, it just is that way sometimes.” And as tough as it is to let go, we can always look towards the future for a new time to be able to drive up to OHS in style, in our minivans and our hatchbacks.““