The Practice of Commuting Children Around Providence Every Day


Dave Talan has an interesting (by which I mean “ought to be obvious”) take on Providence’s school busing woes:

The Providence school bus drivers strike, the extreme hardships it is causing for families, and the city’s total inability to react to it, raises this question: Why on earth are 9,000 students riding the bus when every one of them lives within walking distance to a neighborhood elementary or middle school?

We need a policy to allow most students to go to the closest school, one that is within walking distance from their home. The parents of most of these 9,000 students would choose this option if it were available to them.

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I’m all for a school choice policy that allows families to choose other schools, but that presupposes a default option.  If the assumption is that children go to the school that’s within walking distance, with extra capacity available to students elsewhere, the families that choose different schools can be expected to account for the distance.

Sending students around the city as a general practice seems like it unnecessarily uproots them from their neighborhoods, while (naturally) adding expense for union jobs.

  • BasicCaruso

    lol, Justin is all for school choice so long as most other people don’t actual do it. Ah, the policies of the fringe right. So obviously beneficial until you actually try them.

    • Justin Katz

      “The parents of most of these 9,000 students would choose this option if it were available to them.”

  • Rhett Hardwick

    A recollection from when I lived in Boston. As most students of social history will recall, Boston was torn apart in the 70’s over school busing. The purpose was racial integration. “Neighborhood schools” were declared the enemy. Well, by the 90’s neighborhood schools had been seen to have advantages (cost of busing). Since the term “neighborhood schools” had been thoroughly villainized, it was necessary to invent a new term. “Walk to schools”.

    As to “choice” I still know some black people in Boston who take advantage of “busing” required to integrate the suburban schools. Their kids are bused as much as 25 miles. Still they make the “choice” believing suburban schools are much better than what they would find in the city. I cannot help but wonder about the cost.

  • Joe Smith

    “nobody would have to ride a school bus unless they chose to attend a school that is farther away.” While this statement sounds generally common sense, there is no factual data to back this other than the candidate’s informal and unscientific sample.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      This causes me to recollect my grammar school days, just after the Civil War. Bus tickets were “free” if you lived more than a mile from school, the principal of the grammar school drove to my house and checked the odometer. We had “bus stops” not the door to door service I see today. My “bus stop” was about a 1/4 mile away. We didn’t have a “monitor”, we had a “driver”. I admit that we would some times take it into our heads to “rock the bus” by group leaps from side to side. I don’t recall any deaths being reported. Billy Greenway did die when the raft he built flipped and hit him on the head, I suppose he might have benefited from a “monitor”.