A school consolidation in works in Arkansas is threatening to leave some students with round trip bus rides totaling three hours each day. A parent group has filed a lawsuit claiming that excessive time on a bus violates students’ right to equal educational opportunities under the state constitution.
And now for the urban hegemony quote of the week:
Doug Eaton, director of public school facilities and transportation for Arkansas, said relocation is one option for rural residents concerned about lengthy bus rides.
“If they don’t like to ride the bus, move closer to the school,” Eaton said in a telephone interview.
Chris Heller, attorney for the Paron patrons, responded that the state Supreme Court has ruled that residence should not play a role in whether a student receives an adequate education.
“A statement like (Eaton’s) is similar to saying if kids in poor Delta school districts don’t like the education they’re getting, they ought to move to Little Rock,” Heller said….
The lawsuit against the state Board of Education… claims long bus rides hurt academic performance.
Eaton said that claim could be extended to the point of arguing whether a Ford or Chevrolet bus is better for children.
“I think anybody would be extremely, extremely hard pressed to be able to draw a parallel between a child’s inability to read and write and how long they’ve sat on a bus,” Eaton said.
However, Rod McKnight of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services cited numerous studies that suggest a correlation between long bus rides and student achievement, though he said even those conclusions have conditions.
In Nebraska rural school proponents are also fighting legislation that would force more rural school consolidations, and thus increase bus ride lengths for students there.