School Transportation in Bluff City

Posted on April 1, 2014


By Jenny Bitzer

imagesIn Memphis, public elementary students who live within one and a half miles, and middle and high school students who live within two miles of their school, are not provided with transportation to and from school. Families that live within this bussing radius generally have two options: parents transporting their students in their own vehicles or students walking to and from school. While driving to school is preferable, this creates problems for many urban families whose jobs conflict with school start times and even those who do not have a car to transport their children to school safely.

The transportation issue leaves many of Memphis’ students walking to and from school on a daily basis. There are a variety of different issues that come into play with school transportation. First, weather is a key issue in Memphis. As Memphians we know that when it rains, it pours. Attendance in many schools across the city drop significantly on days with poor weather conditions, leading to students missing out on valuable learning time. Along with weather, darkness and safety also pose great problems for students walking to and from schools. Many students in Memphis live or walk through neighborhoods with busy streets, no sidewalks, train tracks, or gang territories that could be extremely dangerous for walking conditions. Not to mention, with early start times for schools in Memphis many children that have to walk over a mile to school, especially in the winter months, are faced with walking to school early in the morning when it is still dark outside.

This issue has serious implications for the city of Memphis. There is no question, in order to learn children need to be able to get to school on a regular basis. There are many ways in which we can help alleviate many of the problems that stem from the current issue of transportation. First, it is vital for us to create safe walkways for children to get to and from school. Small changes like creating safe sidewalks, more crosswalks across busy streets, and other changes can lead to children being able to attend school regularly. There must also be a discussion amongst city members about the impact that a poor transportation system can have on our schools and the children of Memphis. With a failing public transportation system, the children of Memphis living within the bussing radius deserve, if not a school provided transportation, then a safe walkway to their zoned schools. As positive changes continue to happen in this city with the education system, we are truly moving towards a better tomorrow. With the large connections between transportation and attendance, policy makers and community members need to work to ensure that students across our city are able to get to school on a daily basis.

Jenny Bitzer is a senior Psychology major and Education minor at Rhodes College and is starting her work with Teach for America in Memphis next year.

Posted in: Education