Michael Gottfried weighs in on impact of school bus crisis on attendance in Washington Post

February 7, 2024
A yellow School District of Philadelphia school bus parked in front of a school.

A recent Washington Post article on the national school bus crisis features Michael Gottfried, an applied economist at Penn GSE and a leading expert on chronic absenteeism.

In 2022, a significant shift occurred in how American students commute to school, with 53 percent now being driven or driving themselves, as per the National Household Travel Survey. This transition reflects a broader trend where parents increasingly prioritize ferrying their children over the traditional school bus system, marking a departure from the iconic yellow school bus.

Gottfried emphasizes the critical role buses play in ensuring attendance and academic success. He warns against overlooking the impact of cutting bus services on absenteeism rates, which have risen significantly since the onset of the pandemic.

With bus driver shortages and concerns over safety, many districts have resorted to cutting bus services, altering schedules, and even incentivizing parents (including in Philadelphia) to transport their children themselves.

The article states that the rise in private vehicle pickups is largely driven by more educated parents, while those without a four-year degree continue to rely on traditional bus services. This disparity highlights broader socioeconomic factors influencing transportation choices and accessibility.

Read more at the Washington Post.