Proposed Drivers Ed Cut Could Steer Students Elsewhere

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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April 24, 2010

With Wichita Public Schools proposing to cut their drivers education program, hundreds of students each year may either go without drivers ed, or will have to enroll in private drivers education programs. But some fear there will be students who can't afford enrolling in a private course.

Wichita East student Hallie Wilson chose to take a private drivers education course. She finished the course Saturday, and says she's much more confident behind the wheel.

"Yes, so much better. They taught me a lot of things I didn't know before," said Wilson.

Wilson says she chose to take a private course to get more one-on-one attention.

"It's been really helpful, and whenever you have a question they're there to answer it," said Wilson.

Now, private drivers ed schools may be the only choice for Wichita Public School students, if the district ends up cutting the program.

"On the one aspect it will probably help private driving schools like us, but for the whole city it's probably not the best thing for the students," said Wichita Driving School Owner Mike Johnson.

Because Johnson says lessons teens learn during drivers education are just as important as the lessons they learn during any other class.

"Drivers ed is one of the most important classes a teen can get because it might save their life someday," said Johnson.

So Johnson and other safety experts are hoping Wichita students won't opt out of training altogether, but will seek other options, like private programs. If private courses are too expensive, Wichita Police say students should get training under an experienced driver who practices good habits.

"We would hope they would get that experience, to kind of understand a little bit better what they're going to experience on the street," said Wichita Police Sgt. Colin Gallagher.

"We'll take them on, if they're out there we'll be glad to help them out," said Johnson.

Johnson also says the extra business could mean the need for extra instructors, which could help Wichita teachers who may lose their jobs as a result of the cuts.

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