Families & the Community

Detroit Parents Face Long Commutes to Take Children to School

By Sarah Tully — May 09, 2016 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

More than 100 new public and charter schools have opened in Detroit to give parents more choice for their children’s education over 15 years. But that’s created another problem—extraordinarily long commutes.

Chalkbeat Detroit, an online education news website, recently highlighted how school choice is creating a burden for some parents in its inaugural must-read story. Two families in the story spent three to six hours a day in cars and buses to take their children to and from school.

The reason: Some schools had closed in their neighborhoods or the ones that remained ranked too low for them to consider.

“It would be a blessing if you could get a quality education in your own community where you don’t have to get up extra early and travel,” said Myesha Williams, a mother of eight, in the Chalkbeat story.

Part of the problem is that new schools are popping up where children don’t live and school transportation is unavailable.

From 2000 to 2015, 195 Detroit public schools closed down. But many of the new ones that opened were in affluent areas, creating 17,039 more school seats than children who need them in those neighborhoods. However, the struggling neighborhoods’ schools have 2,130 more children than seats, according to data included in the story from Excellent Schools Detroit.

The story illustrates how well-meaning school choice can create unintended consequences. It’s one that other areas may look at for lessons as they expand their options.

Detroit itself has had its own other issues, which Education Week has been following. Here are a few recent stories:

Read more about the expansion of online education news websites, like Chalkbeat, which has expanded to Detroit.

A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.