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Rural Education

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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One in four students in the United States attends a rural school. These schools face unique challenges, including small talent pools, fewer economies of scale, and limited access to broadband. Additionally, federal and/or state policies are often misaligned to rural contexts, where tightly knit communities value personal relationships, local problem solving, and self-governance.
 
Bellwether’s work seeks to draw attention to the unique needs of rural schools, teachers, and students in order to help all rural students expand their horizons and reach their potential. As former conveners of the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho, we brought together the nation’s leading education thinkers to build the knowledge base about rural schools. This group studied and developed innovative policy recommendations on myriad issues in rural education, including the ties between education and economic development, the rigor of rural high schools, dual enrollment programs, and strategies for serving migrant Hispanic students. We also provide advising and strategic planning support to nonprofits and school operators seeking to expand their impact in rural communities.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

Publications

May 14, 2020
Tresha Francis Ward, Stephanie Spangler
In April, we released a four-phase strategic planning tool to support the COVID-19 education response, providing a framework for leaders responding...
April 7, 2020
Tresha Ward, Stephanie Spangler, Katie Rouse, Eleisha Nelson-Reed
The past few weeks have been uniquely challenging for education and nonprofit leaders across the country as they navigate the unfolding coronavirus...
December 4, 2019
Kelly Robson, Phillip Burgoyne-Allen, Juliet Squire, Jeff Schulz
Fourteen percent of the nation’s population lives in rural communities, and one in five K-12 students attends a rural school — a substantial...
September 10, 2019
Kelly Robson, Brandon Lewis, Juliet Squire
When rural charter schools succeed, what conditions enable their results? Local Roots Take the Lead is a new website from Bellwether Education...
July 23, 2019
Phillip Burgoyne-Allen, Katrina Boone, Juliet Squire , Jennifer O’Neal Schiess
Every day, America’s fleet of roughly 480,000 school buses transports about a third of students to and from school. This fleet is more than twice the...

Op-Eds

September 11, 2019
Education Next--Despite substantial diversity in the schools’ models and contexts in which they operate, there are three common factors that seem to...
August 27, 2019
Next City -- For the past 20 years, only about 10% of students walked or biked to school. Back in 1969, that number was over 40%. We make a case for...
April 14, 2017
U.S. News & World Report -- The mistakes that sank Republicans on health care plague education reform, too.

Blog Posts

December 5, 2019
Kelly Robson
From lobsters to bikes to HBCUs, Bellwether has covered a breadth of topics tied to rural education over the last six years. While we are...
November 25, 2019
Allison Crean Davis
Collaborating across teams sounds simple, but it’s not easy, and it has even been described as “dangerous.”  When organizations and...
October 22, 2019
Alex Spurrier
When I was a teacher in Connecticut, most of my students walked to school. I taught just a few blocks from downtown, so that made walking a...