ERIC Number: EJ888162
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Reference Count: N/A
Reimagining Education in Small Towns
Carr, Patrick J.; Kefalas, Maria J.
School Administrator, v67 n5 p30-33 May 2010
Things are not going so well in small-town America. While the so-called "Great Recession" of the moment has focused considerable attention on the travails of Main Street and Middle America, the truth is that the troubles that plague such places have been a long time in the making. For the past 30 years, nonmetropolitan counties and the towns that dot the nation's landscape have been steadily losing population. Between 1980 and 2000 more than 700 nonmetro counties lost at least 10 percent of their population, and between 2000 and 2005 more than half of all such counties have had more deaths than births. Though this is a trend that affects almost all regions, from Maine to Louisiana and from Montana to Alabama, it is most pronounced in the middle section of the country. What makes these trends ominous for small-town America is that this is a story not just of population loss, but of the systematic siphoning off of the young and educated, what is usually referred to as "brain drain." Though young people always have left small towns to seek their fortunes elsewhere, these losses are more debilitating now because of the economic transformations that have profoundly restructured opportunities for those who stay in these communities that have so long depended on vulnerable manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Put simply, a generation ago, the loss of educated young people was not as devastating because of the opportunities in the mid-20th-century economy that sustained those who stayed in or returned to small towns through work in factories or on family farms. In examining what causes hollowing out, and what can be done to arrest the decline of small-town America, the authors believe education is a key reason hollowing out is such a devastating problem for so many towns in America. Moreover, they think a reimagined school system can be a key to renewal and growth for these areas. The authors want rural schools to target students for the modern, postindustrial workplace with employer collaboration. Their work describes the Achievers, Seekers, Stayers and other distinctive groups that constitute these small towns in decline.
Descriptors: Community Characteristics, Municipalities, Brain Drain, Young Adults, Relocation, Population Trends, Rural Schools, Rural Areas, Counties, Cohort Analysis, Longitudinal Studies, Place of Residence, Selection, Cognitive Processes, Economic Climate, Role of Education, Outcomes of Education, Equal Education, Needs Assessment, Educational Change
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States