School Choice and Transportation

March 3, 2020

By John McClaughry

Over the past thirty 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 here is a government program to move kids around, kids are fated to live forever in rural isolation.

Now Kirby is part of the ten town Northeast Kingdom Choice District. That district has three hundred kids in school. It provides no transportation. Yet those three hundred kids attend twenty six 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

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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