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CAP Brief Highlights Community Schools Addressing Rural School Challenges

08/11/11

The Center for American Progress has released a brief on America’s rural schools, both the challenges they face and federal policy recommendations of how to address these challenges. The brief highlights community schools’ wraparound services as one effective method.

Though more than half of school districts, and one-third of public schools, are in rural areas, they are rarely given their fair share of recognition in the education reform movement, and even more rarely their fair share of the funding that comes with it. The CAP brief points out several flaws in federal grant policies, which make it difficult for less populated areas to acquisition the funds they need: "Due to cumbersome allocation formulas, some states and districts receive a disproportionate amount of money while others do not receive their fair share. The result is that small districts and those serving medium-sized cities, including many serving high concentrations of poverty, receive less proportional funding than districts with larger numbers of students." To ameliorate this issue, the Center recommends consolidating into one the four separate streams of Title I funding to make allocation more equitable; they also endorse the proposed All Children Are Equal Act, new legislation which would ensure broader measures for Title I funding, with less of a focus on sheer district size.

They strongly recommend the implementation of community wraparound services in rural schools. These services "are especially helpful in rural communities, where students are often unable to take advantage of public health services, food distribution, and after-school enrichment activities because of their location". By streamlining these programs within the school, stresses can be lifted from the family, leaving students much better equipped to focus on in-school achievement. The brief highlights the Full Service Community Schools Act as a source of funding rural schools can tap to provide these wraparound services in their schools.

"Combining services with a strong academic focus," The CAP brief states, "May hold the greatest potential for addressing rural education’s challenges and ensuring that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed."


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