Paying Attention To Rural Education Essay

1232 words - 5 pages

For many communities, particularly rural communities, schools serve as a source of identity. Because of this, the problems that plague rural schools become enough of a problem that they threaten the identity of the community; unfortunately, many lawmakers and policymakers in seats of power do not have an intuitive understanding of how rural schools work. Policies that work for urban schools, or even suburban schools, can not be assumed to fit the role of a rural school. It is suggested in this article that more attention needs to be paid to rural schools that fly under the radar or have misdiagnosed problems. Even though a greater number of people are moving to rural areas from urban environments, nationwide awareness of problems in the rural system is nonexistent. As teachers, it is our job to be aware of the problems in rural schools, and to possibly find creative solutions to these problems. Most importantly, teachers must be aware of how these problems affect our students lives both at home and at school.
Because of it’s relatively small place in the entire American education system, the problems of rural education often go overlooked or generalized to fit the problems of urban and suburban environments. The author makes a point of noting that rural schools are not “urban or suburban schools, only set in remote locations,” ( 19 McArdle). The author further argues that “while rural and urban schools share certain challenges, including the devastating effects of poverty on school children, there are a myriad other problems specific to rural schools, which is why applying an urban model and urban solutions to rural schools simply doesn’t work,” (19 McArdle). These differing problems include long commutes, transportation problems, low pay for teachers, consolidation of schools, and a growing diversity of population in areas that previously were homogeneous. A note on the last point: this is not a negative thing in and of itself, it is only a problem if the school does not have the resources or know-how to handle a growing diverse population. It helps nobody if a diverse school is teaching to only the majority population.
On a broad basis, the discussion in this article of problems being handled in a ‘general’ way speaks volumes about our own pluralistic educational needs. We learn in class that it is important to not judge students based on their backgrounds, and that it is important to approach all cultures as unique. Using a broad stroke to try and cover diversity does not work. In a similar way, trying to solve the problems of rural schools using a broad stroke (using methods that normally apply to similar problems in an urban setting, for instance) will not work. As educators, it is important for us to consider the unique problems of the rural setting and to consider how these issues affect our students. “The interactions between teachers and students determine the quality of education. Teachers send messages that tell...

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