ERIC Number: ED453991
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001
Reference Count: N/A
The Rural Education Dichotomy: Disadvantaged Systems and School Strengths.
Dunn, Randy J.
The educational advantages conferred by rurality and smallness have their greatest impact at the school and classroom level, but this same rurality creates district or system-level problems that have often been solved by consolidation. Consolidation efforts have been waning because they are politically unpopular, good economic times allow states to prop up unnecessarily small districts, and courts have adopted a noneconomic meaning of "efficiency." The next wave of consolidation will be driven by the suburbanization of rurality, the homogenization of education resulting from the adoption of common academic standards and accountability structures, and the pervasive influence of corporate mergers. The dichotomy facing rural education today is how to reap the systemwide benefits of consolidation, such as efficient use of funds and more specialization of human resources, while not disrupting the many effective rural educational practices, such as personalization of learning and the sense of community. Ideas for addressing this dichotomy include: regionalizing the property tax base; considering additional funding or weightings; providing greater flexibility in accounting; tying school districts into overarching rural development initiatives; and providing incentives for consolidation where it truly needs to happen. The test for deciding to consolidate should be whether more and varied learning opportunities can be made available to children in a consolidated setting for approximately the same amount of money spent in two or more weaker school systems. (TD)
Descriptors: Accountability, Consolidated Schools, Educational Trends, Elementary Secondary Education, Futures (of Society), Politics of Education, Rural Education, Rural Schools, School Districts, Small Schools
For full text: http://www.ncrel.org/policy/pubs/html/dichot.htm.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: North Central Regional Educational Lab., Elmhurst, IL.