There’s an increasing inequality in America’s public education system. Many rural school districts are faced with issues that stem from the current demographic and economic state of rural areas – both the lack of technological infrastructure and the difficulty of hiring and retaining teachers.
Some residents in rural areas are in extreme levels of poverty. This poverty is reflected in the educational system in rural schools. According to studies, only 10% of students from low-income families attain a bachelor’s degree by the age of 25. It is difficult to improve these statistics without significant support from the government and the community. In fact, states like Connecticut, Michigan, and Massachusetts, rural districts received 50 percent less funding from the federal government than urban counties. Other states, urban districts received between 20 to 50 percent more funding than their rural counterparts.
Rural schools face a unique problem with transportation. Rural residents are spread out across their districts of residency and because of such large areas to cover for the states, many rural school districts spend more of their budget to transporting their students. According to a 2001 report the Minnesota State Legislature disclosed that transportation spending per student varied between $198.66 in metro suburbs and $378.44 in rural districts with enrollments less than 500. There’s a whopping $179 difference per student in transportation costs. This limits the actual educational fund that the rural students need.
Transportation is the the only problem in rural school districts. It is difficult for schools to hire teachers that are willing to work at rural schools. Due to the geography of rural areas, rural schools tend to be far away from many services that appeal to young people or newly formed families. And not only that rural teachers also face the possibility of having an increased workload. Dr. John Hill, the Executive Director of the National Rural Education Association said that “There’s just not enough people teaching these subjects and sometimes the person teaching is on an emergency license.”
The current state of rural education is bleak. It is important to address these issues discusses that many rural school face. Although these problems are tightly connected with the economic development in these regions, there are many ways that can be done to help them. I hope that we can work together to ensure that every child in rural area receives an equal opportunity to succeed.