- In an effort to solve the problem of unequal access to higher quality schools, a ride service called Hop, Skip, Drive now offers students in the Denver area a way to access schools in other parts of the city, District Administration reports.
- The service, vets and employs experienced parents, teachers, nurses and others as “care-drivers,” according to Joanna McFarlan. CEO of the company.
- The service, which has already been operating in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, partners with school districts to provide trips for students in situations where the use of a school bus would be cost-prohibitive.
Offering school choice options to students is a way to ensure that students have increased access to high quality schools that best fit their needs. However, offering students equal access to schools means little if students cannot get to their school of choice. While transportation to alternate school locations may not be a problem for some families, the issue impacts those from lower-income households to a greater degree, creating a practical barrier to true access to many schools.
The issue also impacts access to magnet and charter schools, accounting, in part, for equity concerns at some of these schools. The rules regarding the need to provide transportation to charter schools varies greatly from state to state, and many school districts only provide access to magnet schools within certain boundaries. In Denver, school officials have explored multiple options to address the transportation issue including an innovative shuttle bus service called Success Express.
However, a recent report, “Can Public Transportation Improve Students’ Access to Denver’s Best Schools of Choice?” shows that such transportation strategies are, at best, a temporary fix and suggest that a better solution lies in the more equitable distribution of quality schools so that students have better options in their own communities. In the report, researchers suggested: “To provide all students with the best opportunities for learning, Denver, and other cities as well, must make strategic investments in improving the distribution of quality schools and will likely have to consider creative solutions like building enrollment partnerships with neighboring school districts, developing micro schools, or providing more students with virtual access to classrooms in the city’s best schools.”