Arguing Cause Final Katie

Rural Schools Lacking Funds

Many rural schools across the country are being faced with the challenge of lacking school funds. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about twelve million students attended rural schools in the United States in 2010 compared to about five million in urban schools. That means that 70% of students attend rural school. That is a huge majority out of all students. With this being said, people are wondering why rural schools aren't being funding enough.

For each state, there is a specific funding formula to determine how much each school will be funded. What happens though when the formula isn't accurate anymore because the poverty rate increases? Many schools throughout the states are being faced with this challenge. Kelli Jacobi, a superintendent in Rhinelander, states, "This is startling to me, that a district with free and reduced lunch numbers as high as 47%, …gets 17% state aid.That has been declining over the years and that's where we are now" (Nesemann, 2013). In other words, Jacobi is saying that she is surprised that the state is funding so little to schools that have such high poverty. A while back, the state of Georgia issued a lawsuit arguing that the state was violating the Georgia Constitution by not spending enough money to provide an adequate education. Joe Martin, a former Atlanta school board president, states the "The purpose of the lawsuit is not to criticize anyone but to ask the courts of Georgia to resolve a constitutional issue" (Salzer, 2004). In other words, Joe asserts that the courts of Georgia need to change something in their constitution in order to provide an adequate education for their students. The state not providing enough funds for rural schools is just one cause to their problem of a lack of funds. Brenda Foster, a Barnesville parent with two children, spoke out with concern for the students in rural schools. She states, " I think our kids lack the opportunities to prepare for a good job," (Salzer, 2004). Brenda is insisting that school should be funded more in order to prepare students for jobs. In Parker's article How Rural Schools are Being Shortchanged, Mark Pryor suggest that:

"Every student deserves a quality education. Unfortunately, current educational policies are set up to favor urban and suburban school districts. Our students deserve better. That's why I'm committed to correcting this inequity and reforming our education policies to ensure that every Arkansas student has the resources and tools they need to succeed" (Parker, 2004).

Pryor is insisting that he will work to reform the policies for students in rural schools.

Small community size is another cause of poor funding for rural schools. Rural communities often have small town populations, which means lower student enrollment in their schools than their urban counterparts. Although low student enrollment can mean small class sizes and lower teacher-student ratios, it also usually means fewer staff members overall. A national survey of superintendents found that teachers in rural secondary schools that are understaffed are often forced to teach several subjects in one content area or more than one content area. Teaching multiple content areas and thus having to prepare several lesson plans results in teachers having to spread themselves too thin and can, in turn, limit networking opportunities for teachers instructing similar courses to get ideas from each other (NCEE, 2014) . If there were more funding available to increase the resources for staff and faculty in these schools, they would be able to increase the quality of education in the classroom rather than increase production of with scarce resources. __During the 2010-11 school year, the average student enrollment in the nine rural schools was 489, compared with an average student enrollment of 641 in all SIG-awarded schools for the 2009-10 school year. Twenty-four Teachers from five of the nine schools said that they felt restricted by their schools’ small faculty. One teacher said, “We have to do all the things the bigger districts do, but we have to do it with infinitely less people, playing multiple roles.” One case study in the NCEE report looked at a small school with less than 400 students enrolled. In this case study, they identified several key issues. First, the principal, teachers, and parents said that the school has had difficulty filling leadership and teaching positions. Respondents noted that a number of principals and district administrators had left the district after short tenures, in part due to the isolated nature of the school and the community. The principal noted that it is “hard to attract people to the middle of nowhere,” especially when the school’s immediate community offers few job opportunities for teachers’ spouses (NCEE, 2014).

The second issue focuses on the financial burdens faced by the students and their families and how this impacts student attendance. Many families are living in homes without running water or electricity so children were encouraged to use the school’s locker room facilities to bathe and change clothes. A district administrator explained that in a “larger town or city", the resources are more available and you have people around you. Even when rural areas have resources to support families in need, families might not be able to access those resources because of where they are located and the transportation issues. That’s the biggest thing…the isolation” (NCEE,2014). Given the already scarce funding, the increased water and electricity usage with students having to meet their hygiene needs at school, this increases the financial burden. An even bigger financial burden that many families have is, if students miss the bus, they will most likely miss the whole day because they have no other way of getting to school. If the school district cannot afford to bus students in from their location, and the students families cannot afford the gas to get them to school or they do not have other transportation, they have no way of getting to school. Low attendance and participation leads to decreased funding as well.

Not everyone feels the same way about this rural schools lacking funds. Two site visit respondents in four rural schools (with student enrollments from 300 to 675) believe that being in a small school created an opportunity for building stronger relationships between staff and students. One respondent said, “I like that it is a small environment. You can build meaningful relationships with coworkers and with students…. Everyone goes into teaching to make a difference…. We get more opportunities to do that [at a small school]” (NCEE, 2014).

It is clear that our rural schools are in desperate need of adequate funding if we want all students to get their academic needs met. We have already identified a significant education education gap in race, class, and gender but if we want our rural students to keep up with their urban counterparts academically, and if we want them to have the same opportunities for education, we need to bring this issue to the table and truly make sure that no one gets left behind.

Work Cited

  • Bauman, P. (1983, Jan 23.) The Four-Day School Week. Issuegram 14. Distribution Center, Education Commission of the States. ProQuest. 19 Feb. 2015.
  • Donis-Keller, C., & Silvernail, D. L. (2009, Feb). Research Brief: A Review of the Evidence on the Four-Day School Week. Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation. University of Southern Maine. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.
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  • Griffith, M. (2011, May). What Savings are Produced by Moving to a Four-Day School Week? Education Commission of the States. NJ3. ProQuest. 19 Feb. 2015.
  • Hewitt, P. M., & Denny, G. S. (2011). The Four-Day School Week: Impact on Student Academic Performance. Rural Educator, 32(2), 23-31. ProQuest. 19 Feb. 2015.
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  • Muir, M. (2013). The Four Day School Week. Research Brief. Education Partnerships, Inc. ProQuest. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
  • NCEE Evaluation Brief. (2014, Apr). A Focused Look at Rural Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants. Institute of Education Sciences. 19 Mar. 2015
  • Nesemann, M. (2013, Oct 26). Rural schools task force hears testimony on school funding, aid. The Northwoods River News.Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
  • Parker, Suzi. (2013, May 2.). How Rural Schools Are Being Shortchanged. Takepart. Web. 18 Mar 2015.
  • Salzer, J. (2004, Sep 15). Rural schools take Ga. to court low funding cheats students,
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