The challenge of providing the best possible education to children in rural America must include multiple options, including broader school choice policies, including expanding charter schools and K.12 college savings accounts, according to a study released Monday. Inheritance.
“No school can meet the needs of all the children living nearby. "Rural families deserve more educational opportunities," say the authors of the report by the conservative Washington think tank.
Authors Jason Bedrick and Matthew Ladner also provide data in their 39-page study that refutes the argument that implementing such policy changes will only hurt the nation's rural public school systems.
Opponents of educational choice often make two conflicting arguments about its impact on rural communities. educational choice will not help rural areas because there are few or no alternatives to the district school system, and educational choice will destroy the district school system because many students. They leave you with alternatives,” wrote Bedrick, a fellow at the foundation's Center for Education Policy, and Ladner, a PhD candidate and director of the Arizona Student Opportunity Center at the Arizona Charter School Association.
"These two statements are contradictory," they also claim. "You can't be both right, but you can be both, and indeed, wrong."
About 70% of rural families live within 10 miles of a private elementary school and commute to Arizona, where about eight in 10 students live in the same zip code as a charter school, the study found.
The study also cites recent data from the National Assessment of Education Progress for Arizona, the state with the greatest access to education, which does not support the argument that education has hurt rural schools.
In the most recent national assessment of educational achievement tests conducted in 2022 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the study found that Arizona schools ranked first on eighth-grade math and reading tests, with two to land. good National average. nationwide.
"Indeed, the best available evidence suggests that education decisions are a wave that lifts all boats," write the authors, who also urge lawmakers to adopt policy changes that expand educational opportunities for children of all ages in rural America. .
Regarding the issue of education during the epidemic, the authors write: "Parents across the country have realized the need to make educational decisions. Are they frustrated by unnecessarily long, union-sponsored school closings, poor Zoom video instruction, or no schools at all? "In response to their children's needs, parents realized that their children would be better off if they had more educational opportunities."
Nationally, the latest data shows that about 14 percent of the US population lives in rural areas, up from 16 percent in the 2000 census. And about 85 percent of rural K-12 students in the United States attend public, charter, or choice schools. . (eg, charter schools, special schools, or out-of-district public schools).
As in urban America, about 10% of rural students attend private schools and nearly 5% of rural students are homeschooled, also about twice the percentage of students in cities, suburbs and small towns, according to the survey.