Rural education in America may not be what you think


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Here on Class Dismissed, we’ve published over 180 episodes. However, as we reflect on all the great topics we’ve covered, we must admit that we haven’t focused enough on the subject of rural education. What are schools like in rural America? What are the myths and stereotypes about rural education?

If you keep up with education news, you may also notice the coverage of students educated in rural communities often feels like an afterthought. Why is this the case? After all, the number of students educated in rural America is greater than the number of students educated in the top one hundred urban school districts combined.

Geoff and Sky Marietta join us in Episode 187 to shine some light on the topic. The husband and wife duo are co-authors of Rural Education in America: What works for our students, teachers, and communities.”

The Marietta’s have a unique perspective. They both grew up in rural towns, and they have both taught in rural communities. But they’ve also spent several years living in urban communities in the northeast while obtaining degrees from Yale and Harvard.

Now the couple lives in Harlan, Kentucky. The city of Harlan has a population of about 2000 and sits along the Appalachian mountains. Part of Marietta’s reasoning for writing “Rural Education in America” was to correct the caricature of what it means to be rural.

Sky says that they see rural America get misrepresented all the time. “We have a lot of very talented teachers in rural America,” she says. “We don’t want to pretend like rural America is utopia. We’re not saying it’s perfect. But we lived in Boston for 11 years and moved from Cambridge to Harlan County, Kentucky. People are not that different.”

In Episode 187 of Class Dismissed, the Mariettas explains how programs like Title 1 often use a formula that can lead to funding discrepancies for rural students. They also list the topics they’d like to see lawmakers address. For instance, they say the need for universal broadband internet is a national emergency and should be a top priority.

You can listen to Episode 187 or any of our episodes of Class Dismissed on your favorite podcasting app or iTunes.

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