Monday, February 13, 2017

'School choice' may favor urban, suburban students, leaves rural schools with few options

New Education Secretary Betsy ­DeVos’s emphasis on school choice doesn't mean much in rural areas, where there is only one school to choose from and charter schools are unlikely, Jose A. DelReal and Emma Brown report for The Washington Post. The Trump administration's “school-choice” preference—favoring charters and private-school vouchers so parents can opt out of public schools and even bring taxpayer dollars with them—reminds the reporters that "Washington has long designed education policy to deal with urban and suburban challenges, often overlooking the unique problems that face rural schools." (Post graphic: Percentage of rural public schools in each state)
About nine million students attend rural schools, says a report by the Rural School and Community Trust. The Post went to Maine, where most schools are rural, to report its story. "Many of those schools look like this one in East Millinocket, where post­-industrial decline and poverty has amplified the role it plays in the community even as funding has become more scarce," the Post reports.

Washington Post map
East Millinocket Supt. Eric Steeves told the Post that if the school-choice model reduces student populations and funding for schools like his, “That could be disastrous. We’d lose tuition money. If we’re forced to bus students wherever they want, it would be catastrophic,” since ­Bangor schools are at least an hour away. “It depends on how it’s organized,” he said. “It may be up to their town to pay for that. And in this weather, it would be horrific.”

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