Thursday, April 24, 2008

McCain and Rural Schools

At a town hall meeting in the small town of Inez, Ky. yesterday, Sen. John McCain discussed how he would help rural America—including schools.

He said he wants to bring more high-speed Internet access to rural communities by starting a "People Connect Program" that encourages companies to build the infrastructure in exchange for tax breaks. He touted the importance of community colleges and alternative paths to teaching (such as Teach for America) for school districts that struggle to recruit educators. (This item is cross-posted from my Campaign K-12 blog.)

Even as a significant amount of talk about education reform centers on the nation's struggling urban districts, it's important that the candidates recognize the issues facing rural schools.

And here's why:

In 2005-06, 20 percent of the country's public school students lived in large or mid-size cities, according to some number crunching I just did from data I pulled from the National Center for Education Statistics. That's 9.6 million students.

Rural areas, in fact, enroll more students— 10.6 million students, or 22 percent of the total.

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