Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Poverty, diversity, enrollment up in rural schools

Almost one in four children attend rural public schools and enrollment in these schools is increasing at a faster rate than in suburbs and cities combined, according to a biennial report released by the Rural School and Community Trust, a national nonprofit organization addressing relationships between schools and communities. The report, "Why Rural Matters 2011-12," also reveals increasing rates of poverty, diversity and students with special needs in rural schools. These trends are most prevalent in the South, Southwest and Appalachia.

In a press release, co-author Jerry Johnson said the data show "It is becoming impossible to ignore in the quest to improve achievement and narrow achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged groups. The day of closing our eyes and hoping rural education will just go away are ending." In total, 11.4 million children attend rural public schools, making up more than 23 percent of all public-school students. From 1999 to 2009, rural enrollment increased by 22 percent, or 1.7 million students. The top five states with the largest numerical increases are Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arizona. Comparatively, non-rural enrollment only increased by 1.7 percent, or 673,000, over the same period. (Read more)

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