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[Edmentum’s Commitment] Introducing our Rural Advisory Council

[Edmentum’s Commitment] Introducing our Rural Advisory Council

Did you know that nine million students, almost 19 percent of the U.S. student population, attend rural schools? Even still, most education policy and funding decisions focus on the needs of urban and suburban districts. Students and teachers in rural districts face challenges that their counterparts in more densely populated regions do not, but with those challenges, come opportunities.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what rural districts are, what challenges those districts face, and what Edmentum’s commitment is to addressing the needs of rural districts through the Edmentum Rural Advisory Council.

What are rural districts?

Rural school districts are located in rural towns or communities, often characterized by geographic isolation and small population size. These districts are often the largest single employer in a community and often supply many functions beyond their primary mission of education—serving as the social, recreational, and cultural foundation of a town and its surrounding area.

Here are a few more fast facts about rural districts, from The Rural School and Community Trust’s Why Rural Matters Report 2015–16:

What unique challenges do rural districts face?

Rural districts face a unique set of challenges that are specific to their communities. To name a few, here’s a list of specific location-based challenges that rural districts face, as reported by CoSN and K12 Insight:

  1. High poverty rates: Rural counties have high rates of child poverty, 64 percent, compared to 47 percent in urban counties. A higher percentage of rural students also can face extreme poverty, which is when family income is less than half of the poverty line.
  2. Less funding than urban school districts: Rural districts often have less funding than their urban counterparts, making it difficult to provide the necessary resources for their staff and students.
  3. Long commutes: Rural students and educators often have to travel far to attend school, and commutes can exceed an hour each way. Travel times to sporting events and other extracurricular activities often add to this commute time.
  4. Difficulty attracting and retaining educators: Due to their location (and often lower salaries), rural districts have a harder time recruiting and retaining teachers, especially in advanced or specialized subjects.
  5. Limited course offerings: Because these districts have a hard time finding teachers to teach specialized subjects, students often lack access to diverse course offerings, such as Advanced Placement© (AP©) courses, computer science, or foreign languages.
  6. Limited access to educator professional development: Professional development opportunities are harder to come by in a rural district, as they are often hosted by universities or centers of learning.
  7. Limited home Internet access: Many rural students and educators may lack Internet access outside of school and, as a result, might be unable to complete assignments or lesson plans when at home.

In addition to these challenges, students at rural schools face other hurdles with lower literacy rates and lower college attendance being some of the most common ones.

Introducing Edmentum’s Rural Advisory Council

At Edmentum, we pride ourselves on the fact that we have a team dedicated to partnering with rural districts across the country, but we know that we can always make improvements to ensure that our products, services, and support are more closely aligned to the needs of rural America. To show our commitment, Edmentum has created a Rural Advisory Council (RAC) that consists of both rural administrators and key leaders across the organization. 

This team is committed to ensuring that Edmentum continues finding ways to better partner with rural districts while also providing more resources, tools, and best practices that will make certain that teachers and learners in rural communities have access to the best programs available. 

Dan Kelly, VP of rural education sales and council founder, commented, “I am extremely excited to be part of this new council, and partnering with the 13 administrators we have across the country will help ensure that Edmentum is closely aligned to the needs and challenges their rural colleagues face on a daily basis. Every student, regardless of location, deserves to have the best education possible.”

Interested in learning more about our commitment to rural districts? Check out this blog post on how one group of rural Colorado schools partner with Edmentum for effective professional development and be sure to follow #EdmentumRuralEd on Twitter for more updates on the Rural Advisory Council!

brita.hammer@edmentum.com's picture

Brita started with Edmentum in March 2018 and currently serves as a Marketing Associate. She is passionate about providing teachers resources to help their students achieve in and out of the classroom. Brita earned a B.S. in Marketing from North Dakota State University. 

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