School transportation is one of California’s biggest failures. That could change.

California has the fifth largest economy in the world and it currently has the largest budget surplus of any state in history. When it comes to something as basic as public school transportation, howeveer, the Golden State ranks dead last.

California does not require school districts to provide transportation for students. Fewer than 9% of public school students in California take a school bus compared to 33% nationwide. At the state level, school transportation funding has been stagnant for decades, forcing most California students to get car rides, walk, or take public transportation. Around 9,000 students go to schools where the district spends no money on transportation at all.

Some State and education leaders want that to change. Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) has introduced legislation that would require school districts to provide public transportation for students. The state would help out with funding. Her bill is aimed at correcting what the Legislative Analyst's Office described as an “irrational” and “outdated” system in 2014. 

Free transportation at public schools could help close the achievement gap between low-income students and wealthier peers, improve graduation rates, and address some of the chronic absenteeism plaguing public schools. Skinner says it would also help combat climate change.

Read Skinner’s bill, SB 878, in full here


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