Commentary by Emily Anne Gullickson, A for Arizona CEO, originally published on reimaginED.

Across the country, there have been countless stories this school year about school bus driver shortages and the impact that shortage is having on kids getting to school. While a new onslaught of abrupt cancellations and modified routes no doubt is an obstacle for parents, the reality is that transportation barriers for families have persisted for years.

The issue is exacerbated in Arizona due to robust district open enrollment and public charter school systems, making it even more difficult for families to find accessible and reliable K-12 transportation to deliver their children to the school that best meets their needs.

Public school transportation is expensive, bureaucratic, and cumbersome. We have a system that is completely antiquated, largely in the same form when it was established nearly 80 years ago. Nationwide funding formulas operate as if kids and families are all still attending their assigned school within neatly designed and restrictive attendance zones.

But in Arizona, where nearly one out of every two students attend a public school other than the neighborhood district school to which they were assigned, the system is broken.

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