This study analyzes differences in the time elementary school students living in metropolitan areas in the United States spend traveling to schools. Building on existing literature on adults’ commuting patterns and educational literature on school districts, school segergation, and school choice. I suggest a model of students’ commuting that considers the interaction of students’ family and school district characteristics in shaping the trip to school. I use a unique multilevel dataset nesting elementary school students’ daily trip to school and their family characteristics in their school district to show that nationally, Black students and students whose mothers are least educated travel the longest to school. These differences are accounted for by mode of transportation and Black students’ reliance of public transportation. But comparing students to their peers within their school districts, students whose mother has higher education travel the longest, and this trend increases in school districts with higher proportions of Black students. These findings link students’ mundane traveling to greater dynamics in the American educational system and expand our understanding of why different students travel different durations to school.
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