Many rural schools begin welcoming students back for the new academic year this month and the U.S. Department of Education today announced that it will hold events and engage in outreach efforts throughout August to help promote the strengths, opportunities, and challenges in rural education.
Ongoing efforts will include highlighting the work of teachers and students in rural areas on the Department's new Web page at http://www.ed.gov/rural-education. In addition, Department officials will participate in White House Rural Council roundtable discussions in several states and hold meetings at the Department's headquarters in D.C. to continue learning from rural students, teachers, and researchers.
“Rural schools are critically important to our nation's future prosperity,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As we prepare for the new school year, it is important to recognize the unique opportunities and challenges in rural schools and communities. Our nation needs the skills and talents of rural children and adults. More rural students need to access college and career training beyond high school to meet the needs of their local economies.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than half of public school districts (56 percent), nearly one third (31%) of public schools and almost a quarter of students (23% or 11.3 million) reside in rural communities. Class sizes are generally small, rural schools are often the centers of community life, and overall high school graduation rates are high in many rural areas. However, rural students are less likely than their peers nationally to access postsecondary education.
Even in some rural areas that have lost population and industry, there are businesses with unfilled jobs and economic opportunities that require additional skilled workers. The Administration believes that as a nation, we must educate our way to a better economy and rural schools and communities can capitalize on these opportunities.
More information, including event details, will be announced in advance each week.