Urban schools command the vast majority of attention from policymakers and school reformers. With consistently poor performance and cross-cutting problems such as poverty, lack of health care access and hunger, inner-city schools have been the blinking light on the dashboard of American education for more than a generation.
But it’s not only city schools that need our attention and help. One-third of American schools are rural, and they serve 11 million students. These schools face many of the same challenges that urban school districts do, including a high proportion of low-income students, low educational attainment among parents and low college attendance among high-school graduates. In fact, students in rural communities are likelier than their peers to live in poverty and only 27 percent go on to college. But the challenges of rural schools receive far less attention from policymakers, reformers and the media.