National Transit Equity Day: Transportation Impacts School Attendance and Enrollment

“Transit Equity” is a hot topic in Metro Atlanta and across the Nation. Critical discussions about transportation are being held but how many parents of school aged children in public school districts are in the rooms for the discussions? Transportation is a barrier to family engagement in schools . Especially in lower-income and working class communities. That’s why Georgia Stand Up is helping Atlanta parents and stakeholders advocate for equitable public transportation changes. In celebration of Rosa Parks Day also known as National Transit Equity Day, the organization is encouraging parents and stakeholders to advocate for resources to help improve areas where transit improvements and expansion are needed. Billions of dollars are being allocated for the MARTA expansion here in Atlanta. All Atlanta citizens must get their fair share of funds south of I-20 and across the metro area in order for our communities and schools to improve. There are equitable transit rights that Rosa Parks advocated for in the 60’s still relevant today . Public transportation impacts the stability of schools. Public transportation changes impacts the work force that runs schools and the means for parents and children to get to the schools.

Parent Advocacy Matters! 

Two years ago when MARTA had to cut bus routes in SW Atlanta it greatly impacted schools. One school in my community had over 70 children unable to attend the first day because of the lack of public transportation. Now, the state, local counties and the City of Atlanta are having meetings discussing ways to improve public transportation. Parents must have input and be present. No longer can parents  assume or take for granted that people are going to advocate for their children. Parents must be engaged with local school and public policy development. Parents voices and votes matter! That is why parents must advocate for equitable improvements to public transportations and must also continue to advocate for improvements to public education. On several occasions I’ve heard policy makers say, “we commend your dedication to this cause, but where are the parents?” Parents must advocate for improvements to the public transportation system and we must stand with them.

Why Is Affordable Public Transit Important? 

Public transportation helps working families get to their jobs, schools and establishments within their communities. Not only working adults but high school students in career readiness programs, college readiness internships and college students who volunteer in schools. Supporting advocacy efforts for improved public transportation definitely helps students! Parents who use public transportation to get to work to support their children need affordable fares. However, since this isn’t always the case and many who need public transportation aren’t able to ride it, we must change the system. Everyone should have the right and access to free (or at least affordable) public transportation regardless of age, race, or class. It also includes supporting the rights of workers to organize in the sectors that will build, operate and maintain public transportation infrastructure, as well as provide the services.

Here are some things stakeholders can do to advocate for transit equity: 

– Contacting your pastor/church about Transit Equity & the beginning of Black History Month volunteering to help working parents with transpiration with before and after school care for children

– Encouraging communities and schools to host Transit Equity Week activities

– Families can look up African-Americans who work with improving energy efficiency

-Families can research African-Americans who work to improve climate control

– Joining Georgia StandUp, the Sierra Club and other local partners on Mon. Feb 5th; National Day of Action for any of the three press conferences, marches & rallies for Transit Equity.

About Georgia Stand Up
We promote the principle of public vs. private investment in public transportation – the need for public resources and infrastructure (public transportation, public regulation of our energy systems, a stronger public sector overall, etc.), to lead and administer the transition to fossil fuel free public transportation. Rosa Parks’ Birthday is Sunday, Feb. 4th. Monday, Feb. 5th is the National day of action. Here in Atlanta, there will be a press conference at the Five Points MARTA followed by a march to City Hall and the Georgia State Capitol. Thursday, Feb. 8th, is Senior Day at the Capitol.

Georgia Stand Up, 404-581-0061 or visit www.georgiastandup.org

National Partners include: Partnership for Working Families, Jobs With Justice, Institute for Policy Studies and ATU

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.

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