Man, those CRPE people are guest-blogging up a storm at Eduwonk this week. In a smart post, Parker Baxter flags Paul Teske's research showing that transportation can be a significant obstacle to school choice for low- to moderate-income families.
Of course it is; transportation is a significant barrier to lots of things for low-income families--things like getting and holding a job, or accessing health care, or buying groceries--as well as accessing a school of their choice. It doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about transportation barriers to school choice without engaging the reality that lots of things about how we "do transportation" in this country work very badly for low-income people. But if we improved transit in ways that help low-income people get around in general, that would also expand low-income families' access to school choices (and would also be very helpful as the population of elderly Americans rises). The good news is that, because transit infrastructure and how we spend public transportation resources are a public function, we could choose to do something about that. But by and large we don't, due in part to many of the same kinds of entrenched political obstacles that also stand in the way of improving our schools.