McClaughry: School choice and transportation

By John McClaughry

Over the past 30 years of arguing for parental choice in education, I could always count on a left wing opponent, usually an ally of the teachers union, saying “Rich people can get their children to school, but poor people can’t afford transportation and will be left out.”

When faced with that, I would say that in my small town in the Northeast Kingdom, that has closed its last school years ago, we don’t provide bus transportation, but somehow, amazingly every school child is transported to the school of their parents’ choice.”

Left wing types can’t swallow this, because unless there is a government program to move kids around, kids are fated to live forever in rural isolation.

Now Kirby is part of the 10-town Northeast Kingdom Choice District. That district has 300 kids in school. It provides no transportation. Yet those 300 kids attend 26 schools in Vermont and New Hampshire, including 20 to Lyndon Institute and 28 to St. Johnsbury Academy, and somehow they all get to school.

The reason is that concerned parents in supportive communities get busy and solve problems, without setting up some overarching tax supported government bureaucracy to do it for them. My own children attended St. Johnsbury Academy for seven years, and rode with a neighbor who was a teacher there.

Moral to the story: don’t dismiss the capacity of people to solve their own problems.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR
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2 thoughts on “McClaughry: School choice and transportation

  1. Great piece John, the left has a narrative, in this case they are pretending to look out for the poor family who cannot get their kids to school. The reality is that the teachers union owned left will do anything they can to force children to attend union staffed schools. The left is willing to harm children in order to force them to attend the one size fits all big public schools.

  2. John, you make one of the most salient points supporting School Choice. in my district, School Choice parents have arranged with the public school system to transport tuitioned students living on the public school bus routes and drop them off at schools on the route.

    More importantly, school districts can set their own transportation policies. The State (AOE, SBOE and State Legislature) do not control those school district policies. And transportation costs are typically less than 1% of a school district budget.

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