Published Online: December 16, 1998
Published in Print: December 16, 1998, as Rural Education


Rural Education

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Funding Targeted: Rural education officials hope a report on the funding inequities between rural and urban schools will prompt Congress to look more closely at targeting federal school aid to America's small towns.

After reviewing a variety of national data, the National Education Association found that 38 percent of the nation's 41.6 million public K-12 students go to schools in towns with fewer than 25,000 people. Half of America's K-12 public school buildings are also in rural areas.

But the teachers' union also found that, in 1995, rural students received about 22 percent of the $233 billion spent in total on public schools. Of those funds, 46 percent went to central cities and 31 percent reached "urban fringe" schools.

"These schools are getting less than we expected," said Dale Lestina, who is the chief lobbyist for the 2.4 million-member NEA. "They have been hunkering down and waiting for things to improve."

The NEA conducted the research for Organizations Concerned About Rural Education, a Washington-based coalition. Mr. Lestina is OCRE's president.

Rural teachers' average annual salary of $33,298 is also less than the central-city average of $37,173, and the urban-fringe average of $40,842, the NEA said. Rural teachers are also slightly less experienced and less likely to have earned a master's degree than their counterparts in larger communities. The report did not factor in cost-of-living differences.

Mr. Lestina said the research, which was posted on the World Wide Web last week, justifies more federal aid when the 106th Congress convenes next year.

The report can be found on the Web at

A Sense of Place: Do schools teach rural children how to live well in their own communities? Or do they give students the impression that the good life can be lived only somewhere else, preferably someplace more urban?

Those questions are posed by former rural teachers and administrators Toni Haas and Paul Nachtigal in their new book, Place Value: An Educator's Guide to Good Literature on Rural Life Ways, Environments, and Purposes of Education.

In five essays, the authors review literature that emphasizes how rural communities develop around their unique blends of ecology, politics, economy, values, and spirituality.

Copies of the book can be purchased for $12 from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, PO Box 1384, Charleston, WV 25325-13489; (800) 624-9120; or by e-mail at

--Robert C. Johnston

Vol. 18, Issue 16, Page 8

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