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How Do Families' Transportation Options Shape School Choice in New Orleans?

This study looks at the transportation options available to families in New Orleans and how these family resources shape the school choices families make. The study also examines whether families in neighborhoods with greater access to vehicles are more likely to request and enroll in schools farther from home.

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How Do Families' Transportation Options Shape School Choice in New Orleans?

by Jon Valant, Jane Arnold Lincove

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Focus­ing on stu­dents enter­ing Kinder­garten and 9th grade from 2015 to 2017, we find the fol­low­ing: Hav­ing access to a car fun­da­men­tal­ly shapes fam­i­lies’ school options. Fam­i­lies with a car can access essen­tial­ly any school in a 40-minute com­mute regard­less of where they live. The same is not true for fam­i­lies who rely on pub­lic tran­sit or walk­ing. Com­mute times to New Orleans’ high­ly rat­ed schools are sim­i­lar from high-pover­ty and low-pover­ty neigh­bor­hoods if fam­i­lies have access to the same modes of trans­porta­tion. Pro­vid­ing school bus ser­vice makes schools con­sid­er­ably more acces­si­ble to fam­i­lies with­out cars who might oth­er­wise rely on pub­lic tran­sit. Many school bus routes are long and inef­fi­cient. Bet­ter school bus rout­ing could fur­ther increase acces­si­bil­i­ty. * Neigh­bor­hood-lev­el car access is strong­ly asso­ci­at­ed with fam­i­lies’ school requests and place­ments. This is the case even after account­ing for oth­er neigh­bor­hood char­ac­ter­is­tics such as house­hold income.

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