Rural Pennsylvania schools are facing many of the same problems found in urban schools, but often with fewer resources and a public that mistakenly believes poverty, school closings and high dropout rates aren’t rural school problems, according to the Fall 2010 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine,
Lawmakers and citizens often think that urban children need the most attention when it comes to issues of health and education. But in Pennsylvania, officials of the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) hope to change that perception. They recently released a report, Miles to Go: The Well-Being of Pennsylvania’s Rural Children, which found that life for rural children can be every bit as challenging as for urban children.
“We began this effort with a goal of myth-busting — showing Pennsylvania lawmakers and citizens that there are children in need where people would least expect,” said Joan Benso of PPC.
Although the report was designed to surprise lawmakers and the public, it also startled its creators. “Frankly, we encountered a few surprises ourselves,” Benso told Education World. “The biggest surprise was the finding that the rate of rural childhood poverty actually exceeds [that of] urban childhood poverty — that was a shocker.”
The following are among the findings published in Miles to Go:
More rural children (18 percent) than urban children (15.5 percent) live in poverty.
A single parent heads 24 percent of all rural families.
One in 12 rural children is born to a mother under 20.
One rural child in six is born to a mother who has less than a high school education.
Though fewer rural high school students drop out of school than the state average, only 18 percent of these dropouts plan to get a GED.
One rural infant in five is born to a mother who used tobacco during pregnancy.
There is one primary care doctor for every 358 rural children.
There is one pediatrician for every 3,636 rural children.
There is one dentist for every 584 rural children.
To learn more about rural education issues and what to do about them go to:
A View from the Rural Trust Read this Education World e-interview with Rachel Tompkins, president of the Rural School and Community Trust. Tompkins talks about the challenges facing rural school systems.
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools This organization, made up of superintendents from rural and small schools in Pennsylvania, seeks to influence public school policy and funding.