Finding options for your child’s education can be challenging to begin with, but living in a rural area can make it even harder. I’ve written before about how charter schools can provide more opportunities for students in rural areas, and a new EducationNext study shows how charter schools can serve rural communities by filling specific educational needs.
The study examined four different rural charter schools in New Mexico, Minnesota, Florida and Arizona and described the factors that contributed to their success.
According to the researchers, a close connection to the community and the ability to fill an academic need was critical to the success of the charter schools they studied. For example, the Glacial Hills Elementary charter school in Minnesota started up after the local district school closed in 2005 due to issues with finances and declining enrollment. Opening a charter school meant that students had a local educational option instead of having to travel an hour each day to the nearest school.
In a rural community in Florida, families were quickly moving out of the local school system or enrolling in private schools for a quality education, so Crossroads Academy opened to provide a local, rigorous public education for students.
I bet there are Missouri families who would like to shorten their child’s daily commute to school or have a quality academic option nearby. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 61 percent of Missouri’s rural school districts have experienced a decline in enrollment from 2010 to 2016. This is part of a larger migration trend in Missouri, but those who remain in rural areas still deserve a quality education. The Minnesota and Florida schools mentioned above show how charter schools can thrive in rural areas with declining enrollment.
The researchers also produced a website that has more in-depth analysis on their findings, and it’s worth a look for more information on each charter school.
Other states are leading the way in providing quality options for rural students. Why doesn’t Missouri do the same?