« taking responsibility | Main | happy birthday to this »

January 9, 2004

rural schools and civics

I met this morning with Rachel Tompkins, president of The Rural School and Community Trust. I was persuaded that civic education is exceptionally important in rural schools.

First of all, rural areas face serious economic and social problems because they are devalued--young people feel that they have to move to big cities to succeed. Developing a positive understanding of community (through research and activism) is part of civic education, and it could reduce the "brain drain." Second, many rural educators believe that rural schools are deprived of their fair share of state education funding. If we assume (for the sake of argument) that this is correct, then rural students can do themselves good and learn about civics by advocating for more funding. Third, it is a general truth that schools work best when they are supported by adult citizens who participate in a rich civic life, with lots of meetings, networks, and organizations. In rural areas, schools provide an essential mechanism for building such networks, and students can play important roles. Many of these factors also apply in urban schools, but we tend to forget about the rural sector. As Rachel points out in this interview, 14 percent of students live in areas with populations of 2,500 of smaller, and 98 percent of the nation's poorest counties are rural.

January 9, 2004 1:01 PM | category: advocating civic education | Comments


Site Meter