BURBANK -- Driver’s education at Burbank public schools may be at a
Although board members would like to keep drivers education
instruction as part of the high school curriculum, the future of the
program is in doubt, in part because of a shortage of credentialed
teachers, said Trish Burnett, vice president of the Burbank Board of
“If we can find a way to offer drivers education we will, but right
now there is no definite answer,” Burnett said.
In-class driver instruction is taught to Burbank students in a
“Health/Safety/Careers” class at the end of the ninth grade, said Tina
Cantrell, the district’s director of secondary education. Burbank schools
have not offered behind-the-wheel instruction since the mid-1980s when
the board eliminated it due to insurance reasons, she said. “There are
two issues, one of them being that many board members are fearful that
teaching drivers education in the ninth grade is too early and want to
move it to their sophomore year,” Cantrell said. “And then there is also
the issue of there not being enough teachers certified to teach drivers
Cantrell said there are two driver’s education teachers each at
Burbank and John Burroughs high schools. Ninth-graders, most of whom are
14 or 15, take the course during the spring semester. Because they don’t
get their licenses until they are 16, many have forgotten much of what
they learned by the time they take the actual test, she said.
The two Burbank High School teachers are scheduled to retire in the
next few years, leaving two driver’s education teachers for the entire
district. With hundreds of ninth-graders entering both schools each year,
it is already difficult to serve them all, she said.
By teaching driver’s education, the district saves students up to
$300. That’s what the Sears Driving School in Burbank charges for its
class and behind-the-wheel instruction, about 30 hours in all. Budget
Driving School in Burbank offers six hours of driving instruction for
Donald Empey, deputy superintendent for educational services at
Glendale Unified School District, said Glendale high schools offer
in-class and behind-the-wheel driver’s education.
While the district did eliminate an exclusive driver’s education
class, it continues to offer the training as part of the health and
safety curriculum. Empey said ninth-graders can take the driving portion
of the class before or after school and during summer school. The program
is free and every Glendale high school has its own driving instructor.
One alternative to getting rid of driver’s education would be teaching
it at the adult school and charging a modest fee, Cantrell said. Another
is signing up with a private company that would offer students in the
district a discounted rate.
Burnett acknowledged she has been receiving phone calls from parents
opposed to eliminating the program. However, she cautioned that no
decisions have been made and the board is continuing to weigh its
“We understand that it’s important to keep driver’s education. We plan
to meet with parents and students in the near future to talk about the
alternatives,” said Burnett.