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Toward Mobility Justice: Linking Transportation and Education Equity in the Context of School Choice

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journal contribution
posted on 16.09.2020 by Ariel H. Bierbaum, Alex Karner, Jesus M. Barajas

Transportation equity research addresses questions of participation and planning process or the distribution of transportation’s benefits and burdens. This work largely elides issues related to youth and student travel. Existing work on school trip mode choice does not engage deeply with the equity implications of its findings. Education equity researchers identify the abstract notion of choice as equity enhancing but do not engage with the realities of disparate transportation resources and infrastructure. In this review essay, we articulate the contours of transportation equity, youth travel, and school choice research. We use emerging perspectives on “mobility justice” to frame the issues and provide vocabulary that can help bring education and transportation together in planners’ everyday work.

A mobility justice framework encourages critical thought and action to address the root causes of inequities. Our conclusions make three contributions to research and practice: 1) challenging school district leaders to think about choice systems designed for access to schools, not just access to information about available options; 2) clarifying the broader implications of school choice by refusing to look away from the racial implications of forecasts; and 3) elucidating the need for a regional perspective.

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