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.
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.