Anna E. Baldwin writes:
Many Americans outside rural areas do not understand the dynamic of these regions, but one would expect the federal education agency to get it. Nevertheless, while serving as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, I learned that the policymakers there also need to be educated on the challenges of rural schools.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has made it clear that she has a single agenda item: to improve options for all students via school choice programs. But many rural educators are not convinced. They ask, how does choice work, exactly, in rural states? If my friend in Florida doesn’t like the traditional school in her neighborhood, she can send her kids to a local charter school. In states like Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, however, families can’t simply choose to attend a different school. Districts are separated by enormous distances. And impending funding cuts that disproportionately affect rural and poor students are not helping to solve the problem.
Who needs charter schools, anyway? Montana’s public schools are among the best in the world. Just ask these kids on their way to great colleges and careers.