Hundreds of thousands of Michigan students, mostly from low-income families, currently opt into a public charter or district school outside their zone of residence. Families have voted with their feet to find better learning options for their children. A significant share of them, likely thousands, say they would choose something else if transportation were not an obstacle.
And that does not include those who may have stayed in their resident districts because they couldn't afford or imagine how to leave. There are a variety of challenges that these families face in enrolling their children in the best school of their choosing, but transportation consistently ranks as one of the most significant ones. Whatever the cause may be, a focus on the needs of students and the dignity of families to choose what works best for them can create an empowering partnership that helps to put these obstacles in the rear-view mirror.
Starting in a targeted area of need, and ultimately expanding across the state, a system of Student Mobility Scholarships represents one small way to help close the education opportunity gap. It's a fitting approach for the state with a rich history as an automotive industry pioneer. Michigan should drive this promising and innovative initiative forward.