Transporting School Choice Students
By Michael Q. McShane, Michael Shaw
In this report, the authors combed the statutes and regulations in all 50 states to determine exactly how each handles the transportation of K-12 students to schools of choice, often via inter-district public school choice, charter school choice and private school choice. McShane and Shaw summarize statutes and identify some limitations and challenges that states face as school choice options continue to grow and families continue to need and expect transportation solutions.
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In this report, you will learn:
No two states have the same transportation policies for school choice students.This report provides maps and descriptive tables that show just what each state allows (and doesn’t allow) when it comes to publicly funding the transportation of students outside of their assigned district schools (inter-district), to charter schools and to private schools. As one might guess, the devil is in the details.
States can learn from each other to find solutions that will better serve families.Some districts and pupil transportation companies (or in-house transportation departments) work together to create bus routes. In some areas, districts use existing public transportation options by either reimbursing families for fares or partnering with regional transportation agencies to provide eligible students with fare cards.
The lack of transportation solutions for school choice students in many states is a red flag.If parents have options to choose different schools, but don’t have the means to actually get their children to them, is that really choice? That’s a legitimate criticism. We know from surveys that most school choice families take a number of inconvenient steps to ensure their children can get to their schools of choice, but many also report a struggle. This part of school choice policies is often an afterthought. We (and thousands of families) hope to see that change as states are equipped to compare policies.
States that embrace choice and technology will have more student transportation options.Private school choice programs should allow pupil transportation as an allowable use of education savings accounts (ESAs). If schools or families want to partner with a local district to share these funds to help defray the costs of transporting students on existing buses, great. If they want to buy and operate their own buses or use some other form of transportation (like ride-sharing), that's great, too. They will know better what the best way to transport their students is. This might mean increasing the amount of money available in the voucher, tax-credit scholarship or ESA to take into account that part of it will be used for transportation.