rural schools

At the Bruneau-Grandview School District in rural southern Idaho, a couple of dozen teachers are crowded into the small library.

They're doing a refresher training for online teaching. In person-classes are scheduled to begin Monday, but with coronavirus cases continuing to rise in Idaho and other states, it's an open question for how long.

EFFINGHAM, Kansas — In 2014, a cash-strapped school district in rural northeast Kansas turned to its residents with a plea: Pay a little more in taxes annually so we can renovate classrooms, update the wiring and give students better spaces to learn.

From Marfa Public Radio:

In the tiny West Texas town of Valentine, population 130, there’s no gas station, and it’s a 30-mile drive to the nearest grocery store. But there is a school, and somehow, year after year, it outperforms the state average in academics.

From Texas Standard:

Rural school districts are far away from the bustle of Texas cities and suburbs. But with those wide open spaces come fewer students – and limited access to services and supplies they need. And all that can add up.

Texas school districts make it work through extra planning, and by making tough choices.

From Texas Standard:

When the 2019 Texas legislative session gaveled in earlier this month, leadership named fixing the state’s troubled school finance system as a top priority – maybe even giving teachers an across-the-board raise.

School districts, especially in rural Texas, are paying attention. According to the Texas Education Agency, Texas has more schools in rural areas than any other state. But when it comes to public policy, big cities can dominate the conversation.

In Texas, Rural Teachers Face A Big Pay Gap

Jan 29, 2019

From Texas Standard:

Texas ranks 28th in teacher salaries, according to the most recent data. Teachers here make about $7,000 less than the national average. But that could change, with some legislators and state leaders talking about an across-the-board raise.

Sounds great, right? Well, maybe not for rural teachers, who can lag significantly behind their urban and suburban counterparts, compensation-wise.

Creative Commons 2.0

The Arickaree School District in northeast Colorado is find ways that technology can help solve the state’s teacher shortage, which involves a collaboration with a Denver school.

As The Denver Post reports, a couple of times a week, teachers and students from the high-performing 1,800-student STEM School Highlands Ranch use video and teleconferencing know-how to reach across about 100 miles of prairie to the 100-student Arickaree School District in Anton, Colorado.

CCO Creative Commons

Low pay is being blamed for a teacher shortage in parts of rural Colorado.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, teachers’ salaries in rural Colorado can be over $20,000 lower than those in urban areas.

Mdnicholson42 / Wikimedia Commons

Rural school enrollment is on the decline in Oklahoma—and funding to rural communities is going down with it.

As The Tulsa World reports, small towns like the ones in Western Oklahoma receive a set amount of state funding per pupil. That means, when fewer students enroll, the schools and communities suffer.

CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

In his 26 years at Meade Unified School District 226, a 400-student district southwest of Dodge City, Superintendent Kenneth Harshberger has watched the educational landscape change. 
Teachers are harder to recruit — even for elementary jobs, which were traditionally easier to fill. 
“The first time I tried to hire an elementary teacher 25, 26 years ago, we had over 100 applicants,” he recalled. “Now I can’t get five applicants.” 

Creative Commons CC0

Colorado lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday about the financial difficulties facing much of rural Colorado, which helped a bill aimed at preventing cuts to rural communities in the state pass its first test.

As The Denver Post reports, officials from rural schools, hospitals and business groups testified about the dire financial situation facing much of rural Colorado – a situation that they fear will only get worse in coming years.

Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post

The Colorado Legislature is proposing a major overhaul to the state’s budget, in a move that would redirect money toward rural schools and roads.

Study: Rural students have highest rates of absenteeism

Dec 27, 2016
Chris Neal / Topeka Capital-Journal

In recent years, American schools have experienced a rising problem of kids missing too much school.

And, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education, rates of chronic absenteeism are highest in rural areas.

CREDIT LARS P / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Two northwest Kansas superintendents are excited about the prospect of having their small school districts equipped with high-speed Internet.

Democrats Gain Control of Colorado's Board of Education

Nov 29, 2016
Colorado Independent

Starting in January, Democrats will control Colorado’s State Board of Education for the first time in 50 years, reports Chalkbeat.

This is just the latest sign that, as HPPR has reported in the past, the former red state is now trending blue.

Alan Richard / Chalkbeat

Rural Americans were in large part responsible for handing Donald Trump the presidency. But will he do anything to improve rural schools?

How Will a Trump Administration Govern Rural Schools?

Nov 14, 2016
RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post

Ever since the George W. Bush administration, the nation’s schools have been governed by strict federal laws. Now High Plains educators are wondering what exactly Donald Trump’s election will mean for rural schools.

No one’s sure exactly, though as Chalkbeat reports, leaders hoping for more control over public schools may get their wish.

Despite Setbacks, Rural Schools Are Improving

Aug 8, 2016
Gotog / Getty Images

Rural schools have had their share of struggles in recent years. Populations in the heartland are dwindling, and school funding often goes to more populous schools in large urban centers.

What Ever Happened to the One-Room Schoolhouse?

Apr 26, 2016
McClean County Museum of History / Bloomington Pantagraph

One-room schoolhouses used to be the thriving heart of American agricultural communities. When children weren’t learning their three Rs, the buildings served as community centers and a town meeting place. Sadly, as reported by the Bloomington Pantagraph, most of these schools have gone the way of steam locomotives and wooden silos.  The closures began 70 years ago during the first wave of American public school consolidations.

Media Too Often Forgets Rural Schools

Feb 17, 2016
Harvard Political Review

When it comes to public school coverage by the mainstream media, rural schools get the short end of the stick. David Gutierrez recently wrote about the problem for Harvard Political Review, explaining: “This disparity in media coverage is understandable. The crumbling infrastructure of cities, the poverty and segregation faced by inner-city students, and the presence of a school-to-prison pipeline are all serious problems that demand reforms. But . . .