Transportation and Equity

August 17, 2018 by Tony Lewis

There is no school choice when there is no transportation.  Think about it – as a middle-class family if you’ve chosen the right school for your child to attend and it happens to be in a neighboring district, you can enroll her there and drive her to school.  No “permission” is required; your home district doesn’t have to “sign off” on this – you just do it.  That works if you can provide your own transportation – and – no questions are asked.  But if you can’t provide your child’s transportation to her school of choice – and the receiving district provides that transportation for your child, they must in fact, seek permission from your home district to allow them to do so.  Why?

Why would districts get so bent out of shape that they would sue the State of Colorado to prevent foster kids, low-income kids, any kids from being transported to the school that works best for them?  Money and control.  That’s why.  It always comes down to those two reasons.  See (https://www.krdo.com/news/local-news/d70-not-allowed-to-have-bus-stops-in-d60-boundaries_2016071511550533/35634131).

Known as Poudre School District R1 et al vs. State of Colorado, the lawsuit will be ruled on the very limited legal question of single subject and whether the current statute (HB 18-1306) violates the single subject clause in the state constitution.  (https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2018/08/08/worried-about-enrollment-some-colorado-school-districts-are-suing-to-prevent-cross-district-busing/)

The law as written is necessary to ensure that foster care kids can get a ride to school – no matter where they live.  Any additional steps you place in between foster children and their school can represent a major burden – if a school district is willing to pay for their transportation, why not let them provide a stable home school for these children?  What is best for the child?  Making transportation more difficult for any student is inconsistent with DK’s mission.

Amazingly enough, sometimes the control issues top the money issues.  Many of the six districts that brought the lawsuit to stop the transportation of kids across district boundaries are NET IMPORTERS of students from other districts.  For Jeffco School District alone, the increased amount of state funding they receive from out-of-district students amounts to over $20 million a year.  The others aren’t far behind.

So, today we’ve intervened in the lawsuit on the side of the State, along with Creede School District and several foster families.  Coloradoans actively participate in school choice within and across district lines. Districts stepping up to transport students who couldn’t otherwise attend their schools of choice should be commended for closing equity gaps in our system.  All students – from foster kids to the kid down the street – should be able to access the school that is best for them and their family, regardless of the control issues of adults.

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