Tran­sit to school still a strug­gle

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Ye­se­nia Robles

Six years af­ter Den­ver Public Schools cre­ated an in­no­va­tive bus shut­tle sys­tem to help get stu­dents to school, the ef­fort has ex­panded and evolved, but the larger prob­lem it tried to fix re­mains.

The sys­tem, called the Suc­cess Express, was in­tro­duced in 2011 in north­east Den­ver with the goal of help­ing fam­i­lies choose high-qual­ity schools as the district was chang­ing the choice process and over­haul­ing low-per­form­ing schools.

The Den­ver school district for years has re­ceived national praise for sim­pli­fy­ing the school choice process, but pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate trans­porta­tion con­tin­ues to be a bar­rier to real choice. Dis­tricts na­tion­ally still have looked at the Suc­cess Express as a model — one of rel­a­tively few ex­am­ples of an ur­ban district try­ing to tackle broader trans­porta­tion chal­lenges.

The 92,000-stu­dent district was spot­lighted last week when U.S. Sec­re­tary of Ed­u­ca­tion Betsy DeVos praised the Suc­cess Express in a speech cel­e­brat­ing “outof-the-box ap­proaches.”

“This trans­porta­tion is key in order to pro­vide stu­dents with ac­cess to qual­ity op­tions,” said DeVos, who has cham­pi­oned ex­pand­ing school choice, in­clud­ing vouch­ers for pri­vate schools.

Solv­ing the trans­porta­tion puz­zle re­mains elu­sive in Den­ver and other cities. A re­search re­port last month from the non­profit Ur­ban In­sti­tute iden­ti­fied trans­porta­tion bar­ri­ers in five cities, in­clud­ing Den­ver, and called choice an “empty” prom­ise for many fam­i­lies.

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