Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teaching Tolerance magazine devotes full issue to rural education

Stories from a Southern Poverty Law Center issue devoted to rural education reveal that rural schools face many of the same problems as their urban counterparts. Those problems include violence, homelessness, substance abuse, and academic failure, but often remain invisible. The series of articles, published in Teaching Tolerance magazine, "also points out the diversity in race, ethnicity and degree of ruralness in what it calls 'country' schools, documenting varied experiences from Appalachia to South Dakota," Mary Schulken of Education Week reports on the Rural Education blog.

"As it turns out, ignorance about rural schools is pretty widespread," Maureen Costello, the director of Teaching Tolerance and a former teacher, writes in the issue's introduction. In preparing the issue, Costello writes the staff "soon discovered that no one — not even the federal government — has a single definition for what constitutes 'rural.' We also learned about the degrees of rurality and the world of difference between a rural school that's a mere bus ride away from a big city and one that's hundreds of miles from a population center."

"Little of the reporting in Teaching Tolerance uncovers new information," Schulken writes. "What it does do is shine a spotlight on the challenges faced by rural schools. The series uses statistical research from the Rural School and Community Trust about poverty, demographics and rural school districts to compile graphics showing the face of rural schools in plain numbers." Teaching Tolerance makes no suggestions for rural education policy changes, but does note "reforms often emanate from inside those schools and their communities...and don't necessarily follow prescribed political policies from state or federal governments." (Read more) (Read the full issue here)

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