Thursday, May 25, 2017

Brookings analysis finds less school choice in rural areas, especially among charter schools

President Trump's proposed education budget pushes school choice, designating "about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies," Emma Brown, Valerie Strauss and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel report for The Washington Post. School choice favors urban areas, because in many rural areas there is only one school to choose from and charter schools are unlikely. Trump was particularly popular in rural areas during the presidential election. (Brookings graphics)
A study released in March by the Brookings Institution found that 40 percent of rural students live at least 10 miles from another school, compared to only 5 percent of urban students. But in states that are large in size and small in population the gap grows, Matthew M. Chingos and Kristin Blagg report for Brookings.
Brookings examined four types of school choices among elementary school students: Intradistrict (the ability to attend any public school in the district), interdistrict (the ability to attend any public school out of the district); charter schools (access to any charter elementary school in the state); and private school (access to any private school in the state).
While 83 percent of families would have access to intradistrict schools, the number drops to 60 percent in rural areas, Brookings reports. Overall, 54 percent of students have access to at least one out-of-district choice school within five miles. Rural students are more likely to have access to interdistrict choices within 10 miles—74 percent to 72 percent—but for the remaining 26 percent, distances would be much longer in rural areas.
The biggest differences are charter and private schools, notes Brookings. While 68 percent of urban students have one charter school within 10 miles, only 17 percent of rural students do. For private schools, 96 percent of urban students have one within 10 miles, compared to 69 percent of rural students.

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