The Next Environmental Threat: School Choice

From the abstract of “Vehicle Emissions during Children’s School Commuting: Impacts of Education Policy“:

We explore how school policies influence the environmental impacts of school commutes. Our research is motivated by increased interest in school choice policies (in part because of the U.S. “No Child Left Behind” Act) and in reducing bus service to address recent budget shortfalls.

We find that eliminating district-wide school choice (i.e., returning to a system with neighborhood schools only) would have significant impacts on transport modes and emissions, whereas in many cases proposed shifts in school choice and bus-provision policies would have only modest impacts.

Policies that curtail bus usage may reduce bus emissions but yield even larger increases in private-vehicle emissions. Our findings underscore the need to critically evaluate transportation-related environmental and health impacts of currently proposed changes in school policy.

Hey guys, you know what else can yield “larger increases in private-vehicle emissions”? Choice of grocery store, choice of dry cleaner, choice of shopping mall, choice of residential neighborhood, choice of restaurant, choice of romantic encounters, choice of entertainment, choice of visiting relatives, choice of basically any kind in which use of an automobile is implicated.

Update: Don Boudreaux fires off a letter.