Schools: Planning's Enduring Blindspot

Schools are a prime driver of housing choices and transportation behavior. So why are schools and children often missing from the planning process? Ruth Miller diagnoses the problem and looks at how we can change it.

Miller discusses a couple of examples - one from the Bay Area's regional planning initiative and one from the siting of a new school outside of Covington, Georgia - for how schools are missing, and exempted, from the planning process. For a use that has such a high impact on housing and transportation choices, the disconnect is baffling.

"It’s one thing to exclude school boards from discussions of transportation and housing, but students themselves are routinely excluded, too," she continues. "Youth have a different, but incredibly useful perspective on a place. And children, especially young children, can be much more direct about their impressions of a place, if you’re willing to listen."

"Not only are youth scheduled out of opportunities for public participation, or made to feel unwelcome, but they aren’t given the tools to discuss these issues confidently with adults."

"A lonely few organizations are moving to fill this void, including the Center for Cities and Schools at the University of California, Berkeley (full disclosure, I am a graduate fellow). Their Y-PLAN (Youth Plan Learn Act Now!) curriculum presents a guide for teaching youth community participation. In addition El Carrito, a mobile public participation cart in the Fort Pienc neighborhood of Barcelona, and PLACE IT!, based in Los Angeles, both work from the point of view that people of all ages can work together on a vision for their city."

Full Story: The Self-Defeating Disconnect Between Cities and Schools

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